Rating: It may not be subtitled Adrian's Revenge, but we've finally got a seventh Rocky. And this one's a bit different - the latest entry in the obscenely long-running franchise (it kicked off a year before George Lucas went to that galaxy far, far away) continues the story of the Italian Stallion, but now through the eyes of the son of his rival-cum-mentor, Apollo Creed. Ryan Coogler's spin-off was a highly risky proposition from conception. Ignoring the talent of the director and star Michael B. Jordan, along with Sly Stallone's back in his most iconic character (albeit retired to the mentor role), this looked like a step too far for a franchise that at one point casually introduced a robot cast member; what could this movie offer that the previous sequels hadn't? Rocky got full closure in Rocky Balboa, after all. Rocky as a franchise has never been known for really great movies (the conventional fan favourite sequel is a slice of eighties cheese so ridiculous it posits that Rocky himself ended the Cold War), instead thriving on an always well-intentioned ongoing narrative following Sly's heavyweight boxer. So what a miracle then that Creed is not just a brilliant movie, and the clear best sequel, but pretty much sits on a par with the first film. Yes, it's really that good. Why? Well let's take a look.
5. Sylvester Stallone's Performance Is Seriously Oscar-WorthyTo someone who hasn't seen the movie, all the awards hype circling Sylvester Stallone's seventh round as Rocky Balboa may seem a tad ridiculous; surely it's only for the sake of legacy, honouring a return to the role that first shot him to fame. But no, Sly has earned every word of praise he's received for Creed. We last saw him almost ten years ago in Rocky Balboa, a great, recollective performance that seemingly closed Rocky's arc, and a big fear was that his transformation into the mentor role here would just be a fight-less repeat of that. And yet, without discrediting the sixth movie's resolution, he returns in Creed to advance things further, showing a new side of the character that's been created over time through the passing of those closest to him. Few actors make it to seven performances as the same character, and even fewer do so while maintaining their original essence yet still progressing it. The scenes were the film leans into the past, referencing Rocky's iconic stair climb or playing up the parallels between him and Micky, are particularly impactful, highlighting the deep history of the character while also deftly twisting the series' iconography.