By Irvin Corchado
I chose to take a look at the spin-off movie Creed. The film was directed by Ryan Coogler, written by Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington, and stars Michael B. Jordan as Creed and Sylvester Stallone reprising his legendary role as the boxing great Rocky Balboa. The film, in my opinion, was exceptional because it had a simple story, fantastic music, outside references, color and camera work. The creative team behind did a fine job in creating moods, setting themes, grasping one’s attention and leaving the audience wanting more (maybe even a sequel). I will explain my reasoning as for why I believe this film is exceptional as the analysis continues. But firstly, I will speak on the film and its story.
The film follow Adonis Johnson, a young man from California, who has experienced his fair share of ups and downs as he bounces around from foster home to foster home. A woman shows up at the juvenile looking to adopt Adonis, later to be revealed as the wife of boxing legend Apollo Creed. Mary-Anne, Apollo’s wife explains to Adonis that Apollo had an affair with another woman and that Adonis is the son of Apollo. The scene cuts to black and Adonis is older, roughly around the age of 24, and Adonis is miserable at his office job. The scene then cuts to a boxing match between Adonis and another male out in Mexico, the cuts back to Adonis handing his boss his letter of resignation. He goes out looking for a gym, gets denied, and gets into a sparring match and goes back home. Scene changes and Adonis is sitting on the steps of his home and his mother enters to which Adonis shares with his mother that he wants to become a boxer. His mother disapproves because Apollo was murdered in the ring and she doesn’t want the same for her son. Adonis apologized and heads off to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with the hopes to find Rocky Balboa and be trained by the legendary boxer.
In Philadelphia, Adonis finds an apartment and finds a love interest in his downstairs neighbor. He then finds Rocky but Rocky isn’t open to training him. After constant bothering, Rocky finally breaks and opens up to training Adonis. Rocky trains Adonis for his first fight, then new releases that Adonis was the son of Apollo, something Adonis never wanted because Adonis wanted to make a name on his own. Adonis wins the fight, makes love with his girlfriend, and the news is released that Adonis is the son of Apollo. This gives Adonis the attention he never wanted, it creates some tension, and is a distraction. In addition to this new found publicity Rocky has been diagnosed with Lymphoma and has decided not to take chemotherapy, and former boxing champ Ricky Conlan wants to fight Adonis in hopes to end his career destroying the newfound son of Apollo.
Finally, Rocky agrees to take the chemotherapy in hopes to end the cancer, Adonis accepts that he is the son of Apollo and that he must live up to the name, fixes the riff and fixes the issue with his girl, and will fight Ricky Conlan. The day of the fight comes and Adonis is given two gifts by his mentor Rocky, his girlfriend being in his corner to support him and his own pair of American flag boxing shorts with the name creed, similar to the ones his father wore when he fought. The fight begins, Adonis looks bad, but he manages to survive. The next round comes in and he gets knocked, in his fall he has flashbacks to all the good things he has in his life, and the pops up back into consciousness. His flashback gave him a new found strength because after that Adonis started taking control of the fight knocking down the champion a few times. The match comes to an end, and unfortunately Adonis lost the fight by decision, but he gains plenty of fans for the heart he showed in his fight.
The score for the film isn’t the greatest but it does work well with the scenes. A majority of the movie, most of the up–tempo scenes are followed by music. The song that was recycled throughout the movie, which I personally love but can get tiresome, is “Waiting for my Moment” performed by Jhene Aiko, Vince Staples, and the phenomenal Childish Gambino. This song would be the “eye of the tiger” for the Rocky films in which it is the song of motivation, the song for struggles, and the song for prospering. The song would be slowed down in time of struggle, to support the mood of the scene. Scenes that have the song playing its slow tempo are the scene in which he was knocked out in his final fight. The up-tempo comes in the scenes where he is training such as the scene in which Adonis is running along some kids with motorcycles and four-wheelers towards the gym to see Rocky. When the film finishes the full song with vocals is played as a slide show of pictures is shown of specific scenes of the movie.
Throughout the film you see a series of colors that capture emotions of the specific scene. Two scenes that use color to capture the moments and changes in the film are the ones that have Adonis boxing. In Adonis’s first boxing match Adonis in a small venue, full of people but none very enthusiastic. The scene seems to be bland but comes alive as the fight begins. The punch that ended up cutting Adonis, in the very short fight, has blood dripping from it and the blood is a bright red. Whether it is done to on purpose, I’m not sure but as an audience member, the cut caught my attention. Then in the second fight that goes the distance, the crowd is livelier, which is supported by the bright U.K flag and the scenes in the fight that show blood.
The big color swap fighters begin to fight Adonis is in his first fight, in which Adonis is wearing a very generic black and white boxing shorts. The black and white shorts, supported by a weak venue give the audience member an action pack scene that isn’t lively. But, when the second fight comes along the scene is alive. In this scene rather than wearing a black and white pair of shorts, Adonis is wearing shorts that have the American flag on it. The lights are flashing, his music is playing in the back and the
crowd is wild but what you notice is the lively colored shorts he wears. The colors so vibrant, compared to his first fight.
Camera work during the fight scenes were so brutal yet as good as the movie plays. In the final scene of the movie where Adonis is fighting Conlan the camera would be over the right shoulder of Conlan. The purpose for this is to show both fighter but mainly to see the damage that Conlan would perform on Adonis. When Conlan would go for body shots, the camera would cut to either directly under both fighters or to the opposite arm to which the punch was thrown but at a lower angle to capture the impact of the hit. Punches that Adonis would land that did significant damage would switch to an upfront facial shot of Conlan. The shot would remain at the spot as Conlan would recuperate from the punch which works perfectly in showing Conlan’s face either being disfigured/damaged or showing Conlan being groggy.
Another fancy work in camera angles is the scene when Adonis is running towards the gym, and the motorcycles are following him. The scene begins with an over the shoulder shot on Adonis as he speaks to the group of children on Vehicles. Then as Adonis begins to run towards the gym the camera switches from behind the bikes as if we were following them in a bike of our own, to in front of Adonis and the bike as if we were a car in front of him, to close ups on individuals. When Adonis reaches the gym, he looks at Rocky who is above him, the camera cuts back to an over the shoulder shot but is aimed upward to see rocky. As he yells his thank you, He begins to shadowbox in the middle of a circle of moving vehicles as the camera is above but angled toward them but also moving in a circular motion. The camera switches from the perspective of Adonis to the perspective of Rocky as he views from atop the gym.
I chose to add to this part of my analysis because I thought it was quite clever for the director to add to the film, which is the name “Adonis”. In Ovid’s Metamorphosis, Adonis was the most handsome male in the world, so handsome that Venus, his caretaker, accidentally fell in love with him. She tried her best to keep him as close as she could by having him not go out trying to kill huge animals like boars. Adonis had a passion to prove himself as a man, and didn’t want to be no sissy little man. He loved the thrill of the hunt. Unfortunately in Metamorphosis, Adonis would die.
In the movie Creed, Adonis was working at some business in some type of desk job. Adonis had a passion to become a boxer, to partake in one of the manliest and deadliest sports. Adonis wanted to prove himself as a man as his caretaker, Mary-Ann, didn’t want him too because she knew she would lose Adonis somehow. The story of Creed takes from a book written 300 years ago and adds a modern day flip to it, and I was intrigued by it.
The film was a piece of work, it isn’t the greatest thing in the world but I enjoyed it very much, so much that I saw it more than once. The clever ways in which the director added to the emotion of the film with his usage of color, music and camera help capture themes and kept me entertained. Also, incorporating one of the small books in Ovid’s Metamorphosis was another awesome way to incorporate the culture of literature into the film. Creed is definitely a movie to go out in watch with a friend, an enemy, a family member or a significant other you hope to impress. The movie was done very well.