Before seeing Creed, I decided to go back and watch the entire Rocky film series and I’m glad I did. Saw so many callbacks in Creed to the previous movies and having all the Rocky films in context as I watched Creed really enhanced the experience. It’s not necessary by any means but if you get a chance, this is a great way to see it. Here’s my recent takes on each of the Rocky Films:

Rocky (1976)

Rocky II (1979)

Rocky III (1982)

Rocky IV (1985)

Rocky V (1990)

Rocky Balboa (2006)

In regards to Creed though:

Wow, who would have predicted that the 6th sequel to a movie almost 40 years old could possibly be one of the best in the entire series? But sure enough, Creed is great, really great. This is how you reboot / retool a series for the next generation. I was already becoming a fan of writer / director Ryan Coogler after seeing Fruitvale Station a few years ago (awesome film). But I had no idea about the skill level Coogler possesses. The fight scenes in Creed are beautifully choreographed with an especially jaw-dropping single-take fight scene early in the film.

Even better, the acting is incredible. Michael B. Jordan makes a definitive statement as Creed’s illegitimate son and Sylvester Stallone puts in one of his greatest performances as Rocky (best work Stallone has done in years). Seriously, Stallone owns every single scene he is in. Career-High type of acting. The script has many powerful, emotional highs and does a brilliant job of painting (the now dead since Rocky IV) Apollo Creed in an interesting and fresh light. The script actually makes you love Apollo even more with the twists to his story. If there was any criticism it would be that I didn’t love the musical score. It wasn’t bad but it came nowhere near the classic Rocky music of Bill Conti. Nothing super memorable. But that’s a small misstep in an otherwise wonderful film that should be on many people’s best of the year lists. You absolutely need to see this.