When a talented young filmmaker breaks out with a big indie film, they often have two choices: go straight for the gold or cultivate a career through smaller, careful steps. The former route can often be seen as being seduced by the temptations of Hollywood, with its larger budgets, bigger opportunities and access to some amazing actors and talents. The latter route, is often seen as the road less traveled, but the one that has longevity and integrity to it. These are of course just simplistic constructs of more complex scenarios that are often driven chance or luck, but they are of course narratives that are sometimes hard to shake.
With this in mind, this writer was a little surprised to hear that following his 2012 Sundance hit “Fruitvale Station,” promising filmmaker Ryan Coogler was going to make a quasi kind of “Rocky” sequel for his major studio debut. If anyone seemed like he would be the type of filmmaker to tell his own stories before going the studio route, it was Coogler. But perhaps the opportunity to kick life into an old, seemingly dead franchise, was too good to pass up. In “Creed,” Coogler tells the story of Adonis Creed, the son of Apollo Creed (played by Carl Weathers) Rocky Balboa’s main adversary, turned lifelong friend in Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky” franchise. And in “Creed,” Rocky Balboa (still played by Sylvester) is retired, but as a way to pay tribute to his now deceased friend, is training his young son, played by “Fruitvale Station” breakthrough actor Michael B. Jordan.
And damn if that’s not an intriguing idea and fascinating spin on a familiar series. Possibly Coogler felt the same way. Here’s the official synopsis:
Adonis Johnson (Jordan) never knew his famous father, world heavyweight 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. Once in the City of Brotherly Love, Adonis tracks Rocky (Stallone) down and asks him to be his trainer. Despite his insistence that he is out of the fight game for good, Rocky sees in Adonis the strength and determination he had known in Apollo—the fierce rival who became his closest friend. Agreeing to take him on, Rocky trains the young fighter, even as the former champ is battling an opponent more deadly than any he faced in the ring.
“Creed” also co-stars Tessa Thompson (“Selma,” “Dear White People”) as a love interest; Phylicia Rashad as Apollo’s widow; and English pro boxer and former three-time ABA Heavyweight Champion Anthony Bellew as boxing champ “Pretty” Ricky Conlan. Due for an awards season bow on November 25th, the first trailer for “Creed” has arrived and you can watch it below. Let us know if you think it’s an awards-contender or just a film that will play well and widely during the Thanksgiving day long weekend.