PG Score: 7.25/10
Creed III was released in theaters on 3/3/23
Michael B. Jordan’s (Black Panther) directorial debut may not be a knockout or a TKO, but it definitely just might be worthy of a standing eight count. The film certainly doesn't break any new ground, especially with its quick cuts and different angles just to show one scene. Creed III follows the same outline of its predecessors and is very formulaic throughout, leading to a predictable ending. Does that mean the film isn't enjoyable? I'll guess you'll have to keep reading to find out.
The story was par for the course in this franchise, even with the predictable ending. The two stars of the film, especially Jonathan Majors, gave incredibly strong performances. The foundation of this story was loosely built in the first Creed when Phylicia Rashad’s (The Cosby Show) Mary-Anne Creed took Donny out of his group home and gave him his new life. Creed III takes a longer look at the rough upbringing and the friendship he had with Damian (Majors) as a teenager, which leads to what happens in the film. My favorite part was the opening 20 minutes, as it was the freshest part of the story. We get to look back and gain more insight on the star of the show.
The acting and the action are what keep Creed III going. Jordan is always solid and it was awesome getting to see Rashad flex her acting muscles again, but it was Majors who gave the most noteworthy performance. He does a great job at using his face to help tell his story and what he is feeling, even when other characters couldn't pick up on it. The bitterness and anger are prevalent throughout. It was just a matter of time before our two stars collided.
There was nothing wrong with her performance this time around, but Tessa Thompson’s (Westworld) Bianca took more of a backseat compared to the first two films. Her story arc (minus the fighting) is similar to her husband in the film, both taking the next step after their careers have come to an end, but we only get a slight window into her character's turmoil. The relationship between her, Donny, and their daughter could have used more screen time. What we did get was enjoyable, however.
One thing the film did right was featuring and focusing on a family dealing with the hearing-impaired. This was hinted at in the last film. After the massive time jump between films, we see that their lives are just like any others and not hindered at all.
The fights in the film were great and you could almost feel the punches taking place, but to get to them the story felt a bit rushed. They could have used some more time building the groundwork. The most questionable decision in the entire story was the film’s climactic battle and how it was filmed. It was an interesting choice that worked in some ways, but had an abruptness that took you out of the film.
Good, But Not Quite Worth Hype
Creed III had a lot of hype surrounding its release. Hype is great for a boxing match, but can hurt a film. There are a lot of positives. However, the emotional payoff they were hoping for isn't quite there at the end. Still a solid addition to the franchise, but the film fails to take it to the next level. In the end, Creed III is just a good, but ordinary film that is elevated due to some amazing fight choreography and the strong performance of our two stars.
Unfortunately for the film, the absence of Sylvester Stallone is felt. He was the heart of the first Creed and played a large part in the second. Without him, it just seemed like Creed III was missing something, and although it was more of a personal story for Donny this time around, the heart that Rocky Balboa brings would have only enhanced the story telling.