Early reviews for Creed III have started to come out. The upcoming movie is the ninth installment in the Rocky franchise and marks Michael B. Jordan’s feature directorial debut, with a screenplay written by Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin. The film follows Adonis “Donnie” Creed (Jordan), having to face his childhood friend Damien “Dame” Anderson (Jonathan Majors) in the boxing ring. It also marks the first Rocky movie not to feature Sylvester Stallone returning as Rocky Balboa, as the character passed the franchise’s baton over to Jordan after the events of Creed II.
Critics have started to share their thoughts on Jordan’s feature directorial debut, and the consensus has been mostly positive. As of this writing, the movie currently holds an 86 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with many reviews praising Jordan’s direction and Majors’ supporting performance as Dame Anderson. Check out what they had to say via several excerpts below:
Patrice Witherspoon, ScreenRant
If there’s one thing to count on for entertainment besides Jordan’s direction, it’s Jonathan Majors’ performance as Damian “Dame” Anderson. This should come as no surprise to longtime fans of the actor, but Majors’ is a force to be reckoned with. He delivers a layered and nuanced performance that will surely keep viewers glued to the screen. Jordan also delivers, though one could tell his energy was split between acting and directing duties. Still, his commitment to the physicality of the role and mental toughness of his character is impressive.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety
Jordan, working from a script by Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin (the story is by Ryan Coogler, who also serves as a producer), shows dramatic finesse in his staging of the Adonis/Dame relationship, showcasing it as a broken brotherhood that speaks to larger disruptions — the tug between loyalty and violence in dispossessed childhoods. “Creed III” is a sports drama that feels like a thriller with an urgent conscience. It’s a far more dynamic movie than the proficient but formulaic “Creed II,” even if it can’t match the soulful filmmaking bravura of the first “Creed.”
James Preston Poole, Full Circle Cinema
Creed III stands tall as the rare third entry of a series that fires on all cylinders. A total knockout of a blockbuster, whose closest comparisons are the heights reached by last year’s Top Gun: Maverick and RRR rather than others in the shared Rocky/Creed franchise, this is going to be a film that will be talked about for a long time. Adonis Creed has firmly moved out of the shadow of Rocky Balboa, and the light has never shone so bright.
Chris Evangelista, SlashFilm
The predictability keeps “Creed III” from fully taking flight — we know exactly where this is going from the first frame. And yet, Jordan and company are able to rise above that predictability, mostly. It helps that we’re invested in how this is all going to shake out, even if we can kind of figure it out ourselves. Jordan and Majors are both dynamite here, commanding the screen and creating palpable tension whenever they share a scene.
William Bibbiani, The Wrap
Michael B. Jordan makes his directorial debut with “Creed III” and it turns out he’s an excellent filmmaker, pulling great performances out of his co-stars — and himself — while capturing the series’ iconic fights with strategic clarity. Cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau returns from “Creed II” and casts the film in striking angles and dense shadows, popping out bright and eye-catching colors with the pageantry of the sport kicks in.
Andrew J. Salazar, DiscussingFilm
Michael B. Jordan’s directorial debut changes the game for the Rocky franchise. He moves the camera with the confidence of someone who’s been waiting to unleash this creative drive for years. With such fine cinematic grandeur on display, Jordan definitely has a future as a director outside of this series. Wherever he goes next behind the camera, you can bet we’ll be there day one. Plus, it’s great to see Jonathan Majors in a worthy role after the mixed reception to Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Creed III lives up to the hype and then some, it takes the signature ingredients of Rocky to make something totally captivating and one-of-a-kind.
Robert Butler III, Geeks of Color
The details in Majors’ villainous rendition are really what makes the difference. Having just starred in the indie bodybuilder movie Magazine Dreams, Majors’ physique is unparalleled; pound-for-pound outsizing ol’ Donnie in the boxing ring and the frame. Moreover, his posture is always subtly hunched over, leaving the impression that he’s never really had a comfortable bed in his life.
Kate Erbland, IndieWire
Only in the film’s final half-hour, which (unsurprisingly) sets the pair on a path to duke it out in the ring, do they — and this film — really spring to life. That’s when both Jordan and Majors are allowed to turn their fury and sadness and confusion into action (and, yes, fantastic training montages, a heart-stopping final match, and enough thrown punches to make the audience feel them), and when “Creed III” really gets cooking. It’s the best testament to Jordan’s directing skill (the way he imagines that final bout will likely divide some audiences, but this is clearly a man with a vision), and the genius in pitting Jordan against Majors.
Matt Singer, ScreenCrush
Credit for that goes not only to Majors and the screenwriters but to Jordan as well, who delivers an extremely poised directorial debut. He’s not as flashy a filmmaker as Ryan Coogler; Creed III’s boxing matches are never quite as visceral or as intricately shot and choreographed as the ones in the first Creed. But he also takes some interesting swings at mixing up the franchise’s tried-and-true elements, like its training montages and climactic title bout, which is far more impressionistic than anything in any other Rocky to date. Like Adonis, Jordan is clearly interested in making his own legacy.
Meredith Loftus, Next Best Picture
As directorial debuts go, Michael B. Jordan does come out swinging. Teaming up with cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau from “Creed II,” Jordan and Morgenthau step up the franchise’s visual storytelling, particularly within the relationship between Adonis and Damien. Shots are framed in a way that highlights how these former friends are two halves of the same coin. Regarding the fight scenes, audiences are taken into the ring as they’ve never been before, especially if they choose to see the film in the IMAX format. Some of the shots give flares of action scenes found in Guy Ritchie movies; the opening fight in South Africa is reminiscent of “Sherlock Holmes” as Robert Downey Jr. fights in the ring while sizing up his opponent. It reflects Donnie’s precision and strategy after being a world champion for years. Morgenthau and Jordan make the creative decision to shoot Damian and Donnie’s climactic fight in a way unlike we’ve seen in the previous “Creed” films that amps up the story’s emotional stakes.
What Creed III Reviews Tell Us About The Movie
While one review above thought Creed III was slightly predictable, most critics seem to agree about one thing: Jonathan Majors’ performance as Dame Anderson steals the show. Majors has just starred as Kang the Conqueror in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and while the reviews for that movie were mixed, most agreed that his portrayal of the antagonist was the best part about it. Majors is currently having a great year, with his performance as Killian Maddox in Magazine Dreams garnering significant awards buzz after the film premiered at the Sundance International Film Festival.
The reviews also emphasize Michael B. Jordan’s direction and Kramer Morgenthau’s cinematography. Creed III is the first sports movie to have select sequences shot with IMAX cameras, which gave its boxing scenes the weight they needed to make them feel immersive and visceral. One review even compared its action sequences to Top Gun: Maverick and S.S. Rajamouli’s RRR as opposed to past Rocky boxing scenes. Jordan previously stated that he was drawn to anime for inspiration on how he shot his boxing matches.
While some entries in the Rocky franchise weren’t as well received as its best installments, it seems that Creed III is a satisfying enough sequel to the Creed franchise. Michael B. Jordan’s direction seemingly follows up what Ryan Coogler and Steven Caple Jr. set up in the previous two films while upping the stakes with Jonathan Majors as the movie’s primary antagonist and visceral boxing sequences. Even without Rocky’s presence in the movie, Jordan still manages to honor Stallone’s legacy while making this installment his own. Time will tell exactly how audiences will react to the movie as Creed III releases exclusively in theaters on March 3.
Next: Creed III’s MCU Connections Are Even Deeper Than You ThinkSource: Various (see above)