CREED III movie review

Heart pounding! Michael B. Jordan’s CREED III is an excellent, gripping motion picture! Quite possibly the best in the now-trilogy. Moreover, it is the first Best Picture contender in 2023. Reminds us that movies that focus on simple plots with complex characters are often times make for the best stories. The tertiary installment in the Creed series is a revenge story on the backdrop of the power the past can have over us if we fail to face it in the ring. This moving story is certain to stir up the feels! Ryan and Keenan Coogler’s story paired with Jordan’s directing and the iconic Sylvester Stallone’s producing combine to craft a story that is both visually and emotionally driven. Add in the A-list cast, and Creed III becomes one film that you do not want to miss seeing on the big screen, and preferably in a premium format. Audiences will feel as though they are in both the boxing ring that we can see and the psychological fighting ring that we must feel. Like with the previous Creed (and even Rocky movies), it’s not about the boxing, it’s not about the athletics, it’s about the characters; however, the setting and backdrop of a boxing match and physical endurance training is the conduit through which the story unfolds. While some critics have negatively reacted to the simple plot, need I remind my contemporaries that conventional storytelling is never to be undervalued. For it is when the plot is accessible that the complexities of character dynamics and thoughtful subplots work in tandem to support excellence in storytelling.

Still dominating the boxing world, Adonis Creed is thriving in his career and family life. When Damian, a childhood friend and former boxing prodigy resurfaces after serving time in prison, he’s eager to prove that he deserves his shot in the ring. The face-off between former friends is more than just a fight. To settle the score, Adonis must put his future on the line to battle Damian — a fighter who has nothing to lose.

Five years removed from Creed II, I was wondering if this next installment would be on par with the previous two outstanding movies, and suffice it to say, it most definitely is. In fact, I may even go onto say that this is my favorite of the series. And why is that? It’s the characters. Yes, most of the characters are ones with which we are already familiar, but the addition of an old, estranged friend of Adonis’ is the injection of emotional and physiological complexities that this film needed to force our hero of Adonis Creed to continue to grow as a person, a father, and as a professional. His Journey parallels Damian’s (Dame) journey as they are both fighting the demons of their respective pasts. Each of them express or deal with their pasts in their own ways, yielding vastly different results. And it is the divergent path both these fighters took after a fateful encounter one night that set Adonis on the path to forget the past and Dame on a self-destructive past that would lead him to seeking revenge on the man he claims lived his life.

While the outside-action story is expressed through a boxing match and simple revenge plot, the inside-emotional story concerns itself with a greater degree of introspection as expressed through the respective emotional journeys and fights with the past. Suffice it to say, Adonis and Dane are two sides of the same coin. Both characters react to the events of the past divergently. Wherein the audience will relate most is the idea of battling the past to move on, and failing to confront the past, no matter how painful, can lead to being held prisoner of past events that fester as time goes on.

Each of us has a past that we either tried to escape or allow to define us; either way, that gives the past immense power over our lives and decisions, even affecting those around us. The action plot of the boxing match is a manifestation or personification, if you will, of the battle raging inside both Adonis and Dame. Adonis expressed this influence of the past through a facade of overcoming and resillence, while Dame expressed this influence though unforgiveness (which is like you drinking poison hoping it’ll harm the other person) and resentment. Through the catharsis of the boxing match, Adonis and Dame confront the past with both links and separates the estranged friends.

Creed III is exciting and well-paced. Audiences will be on the edge of their seats as the story unfolds. Yes, there are moments of predicability, as this is a type of story that has been told before, but don’t allow that to dissuade you from making your way to the movie theatre to catch this future best picture contender. Are aspects of this story cliche (or paint by numbers), yes; however, as Patrick DeWitt reminds us in The French Exit through the timeless Michelle Pfeiffer, never forget that a cliche is “a story so fine and thrilling that it’s grown old in its hopeful retelling.” And Creed III is certainly thrilling!

Ryan teaches Film Studies and Screenwriting at the University of Tampa and is a member of the Critics Association of Central Florida and Indie Film Critics of America. If you like this article, check out the others and FOLLOW this blog! Interested in Ryan making a guest appearance on your podcast or contributing to your website? Send him a DM on Twitter. If you’re ever in Tampa or Orlando, feel free to catch a movie with him.

Follow him on Twitter: RLTerry1 and LetterBoxd: RLTerry


“Black Panther” movie review

A groundbreaking new perspective on the typical high concept superhero movie. Marvel’s Black Panther directed by Ryan Coogler is the type of movie that began with the desire to make a bold statement and then a narrative was built around the message. If you’ve heard it’s unlike any superhero movie you’ve seen before, then you’ve heard correctly. One of the things I’ve always appreciated about the Marvel universe (and DC by the same token) is the diversity of the characters. There are characters from a variety of backgrounds, creeds, cultures, ethnicities, etc that are represented in the characters. However, just because the characters were there does not mean they received reasonable screentime (or page time in comics). Up to this point, X-Men’s Storm (my favorite Marvel character) seems to be the only black character who receives comparable screen and page time to that of her white male or female counterparts. In a world that should teach us that our universe is a diverse place, filled with incredible people from a variety of backgrounds and origins, the representation of black heroes lagged behind. The beauty of Black Panther is not that is was simply created to finally give a predominantly black cast in a superhero universe the spotlight, the beauty is that the movie has something to teach everyone. There is a particularly strong message for young black boys and girls that their mythology is as fascinating as the Greeks and Romans, and that they can achieve greatness through teamwork, education, and loyalty.

Chadwick Boseman plays King T’Challa, of Wakanda, the fictional African nation housing secret sci-fi technology, who must step up and embrace the weighty responsibility of his birthright after the assassination of his father. When T’Challa returns home Wakanda to take his rightful place as king, a powerful enemy suddenly reappears and challenges T’Challa’s claim to the throne — and as Black Panther — T’Challa gets tested when he’s drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people. (IMDb)

Although there is a lot of technology in Wakanda (and by extension, in the film), the focus is not on gadgetry or superpowers but on how T’Challa can be a better king than his father who made a poor judgment call that ultimately cost him his life and put the land of Wakanda at risk of rape, pillage, and plunder. That is a message that resonates with everyone–we all want to strive to be better as we go through life. Perhaps we are trying to be better than we were as kids or maybe you are trying to be a better parent than yours were. Whatever the case, we can all place ourselves in T’Challe’s boots. There is also a powerful message regarding how isolation can be detrimental to society at large. Not that the film is advocating the loss of sovereignty–Wakanda is highly sovereign–but there is the message that a country with so much to offer should return some of that to the world in order to help create a better society, more opportunities for growth, and the sharing knowledge that can heal and protect.

The cast is incredible! So many talented performers who truly bring their respective characters to life. My only negative critique regarding the cast is the underused Michael B Jordan as the main opposition character. His charisma shines brightly on screen! But sadly, he does not get much screen time. He is the type of opposition character that you love to see, but unfortunately, you don’t get that much time with him. Although many may be quick to liken Black Panther to Captain America—and for good reason, both shoot straight and almost piously righteous–there is a big difference between the two–and it’s a good one. Black Panther is humanized by his endearing relationship with his brilliant sister Shuri portrayed by the delightful Letitia Wright. Honestly, she was my favorite character in the entire movie. Every moment she was on screen was outstanding. She was the only one who wasn’t bruting–always positive–and has the BEST lines. Just her character alone is enough to give the movie rewatchabiity. On the topic of dialogue, I would like to have seen a powerful monologue that embodied the message of the film and evoked strong emotion. There are emotional parts, but I think an acute moment would have done the film well.

The film opens with a beautiful long tracking shot of exquisite editing that has a mystical feel to it. The opening alone is enough to hook your attention for the remainder of the narrative. No surprise here that all the technical elements were exemplary. There were only a few times that the visual effects felt artificial. For all the action movie tropes in the film, it plays as more of a character-driven story than action-driven. And that’s the brilliance of Black Panther. Simple plot, complex characters–that’s what I tell my screenwriting students at the University of Tampa.

Intensely riveting, Black Panther is clearly a standout Marvel film distinguished from the others in the MCU. All the elements that give it the fresh take on the superhero movie genre work to its advantage. You’ll certainly be left with a lasting impression.