Review by George Kozera for Mr. Will Wong
CREED lll is the ninth installment in the Oscar-winning boxing franchise “Rocky” and is the first one without its creator, Sylvester Stallone on screen. Instead, this movie not only stars Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed, it is Jordan’s feature film directorial debut. Filmed with finesse in IMAX, this movie unfolds with all the tropes we have been used to seeing throughout the franchise (does the audience really not think that the hero would not win the boxing match?), but on the really, really BIG screen it is visually intoxicating. Better still, it captivates and entertains from the very get go.
After spending 18 years in jail, Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors) reconnects with his, then, BFF Adonis. As a young man, Damian was a Golden Gloves boxing champ and as they reacquaint themselves over dinner at a diner, Damian tells Adonis that he wants a chance to fight again and win a title. Adonis, retired for three years, is living a rather complacent life in an Architectural Digest mansion high in Los Angeles hills with his gorgeous musician wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and hearing-impaired young daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent). Feeling guilty due to a past event (nicely evoked in some flashback sequenced), Adonis allows Damian to train at the gym he owns, despite the misgivings of almost everyone there. Ultimately, dark secrets are revealed which culminate with Adonis forgoing his retirement to fight Damian for the world title. (Not a spoiler, the picture in the poster gives it away!).
I was never invested in any of the movies in the “Rocky” franchise until CREED lll. Michael B. Jordan’s cinematic charisma is in full force here and his performance is as dynamic as his wardrobe, which made me drool! His directorial skills are assured and visually impressive and I can only assume he was given pointers from Movie’s Writer/Producer Ryan Coogler (Black Panther, Creed) with whom Jordan has worked with since the classic and critically under-valued “Fruitvale Station”. Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad (as Adonis’ mother) have lovely moments and young Mila Davis-Kent’s charming performance lights the screen. But, as he does in “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”, Jonathan Majors is a powerful force of nature and hypnotizes the audience every time he is on the screen. He can be as brutal as Mike Tyson or as gentle as a kitten. One word: astonishing.
CREED lll succeeds on many levels. The Drama is compelling. The Cinematography and Musical Score are effectively stylistic as is the choreography of the boxing sequences. This Movie scores big on so many levels.
Warner Bros. Pictures Canada release CREED III March 3, 2023.
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