Creed ★★★★½

Adonis Johnson never knew his famous father,world heavy weight champion Apollo Creed, who died before he was born. Still, there's no denying that boxing is in his blood, so Adonis heads to Philadelphia, the site of Apollo Creed's legendary match with a tough upstart named Rocky Balboa. Rocky sees in Adonis the strength and determination he had known in Apollo - the fierce rival who became his closest friend. [Rotten Tomatoes]

Let's get this out of the way: Creed is hype. It's got the raw grit and the perfectly calculated emotional beats of Fruitvale Station. It's got two of the best powerhouse performances of the year; that by Michael B. Jordan as Adonis and Sylvester Stallone as an older, melancholic version of Rocky. Stallone deserves an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor this year because he killed it. It was really astonishing to see Stallone give his best performance in years.

Ryan Coogler's debut film, Fruitvale Station, is one of my favorite biopics and a truly beautiful drama that I deeply cherish. As one would expect, Coogler's direction was top-notch and it elevated Creed above your typical boxing movie trappings. Hands down, this film is the best boxing movie since The Fighter in 2010. It more than makes up for the disappointment I found Southpaw to be. I appreciated how the script, written by Coogler and Aaron Convington, knew how to cater to all generations. It's hella nostalgic and I love how there's a great balance between the old and the new.

The best part of the film is the fight sequences, directed with flawless grace by Coogler. The action is heavy and intense, the sound design makes sure that you feel every hit and the first two major fights are enough to get your blood pumping and adrenaline rushing long after the credits roll. The one-take fight around the half-way point is the best sequence I've seen in a film this year. It was so perfectly done and when it was finished, I almost fell over. I felt like I was taking each punch and that is something to praise.

Another highlight of the film is the absolutely fantastic score. It's epic and loud and empowering. I loved how ambitious Ludwig Göransson's approach to it was. Also, all the various artists that accompany the soundtrack help turn Creed into a great technical beast. It was sweet to hear "The Fire" by The Roots & John Legend at a high point in this movie. Lastly, a really cool idea was to have Tessa Thompson performing original songs, as well as acting as Bianca, the love interest of Adonis.

Creed is a must-see knockout and one of the best films of 2015. It's emotionally complex, choreographed with technical finesse and acted beautifully. I was fighting back the tears a few times throughout the run-time and that's a good thing. If you love boxing movies, this is the one you've been waiting for. Creed knocked me off my feet and it was a wicked experience. Highly recommended.

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