Review: ‘Rocky’ spinoff delivers knockout with ‘Creed III’

The new release is playing at or coming to local movie theaters near you: Cozy Theatre in Wadena, Comet Theater in Perham and Washington Square 7 in Detroit Lakes.

"Creed III" movie poster
Michael B. Jordan again stars as professional boxer Adonis Creed in "Creed III." The critically acclaimed box office hit is the latest sequel in the movie franchise that started as a "Rocky" spinoff.
Frank Lee / Wadena Pioneer Journal

Childhood acquaintances can be the best friends — or the worst of enemies. In “Creed III,” the latest movie sequel in the “Rocky” spinoff film series, they’re both.

Michael B. Jordan returns in the new sports drama as Adonis Creed, the illegitimate son of the late former heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, who Rocky Balboa boxed and avenged in the “Rocky” franchise. Balboa mentored Jordan’s character in boxing and life after his dad’s death.

With the exception of Balboa who was played by the Oscar-nominated Sylvester Stallone, the gang is all back in “Creed III.” Tessa Thompson again plays Jordan’s wife in the motion picture, while Phylicia Rashad once more plays Creed’s ailing mother.

Frank Lee headshot
Frank Lee
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

This round of pugilism introduces a new character who is both welcomed and feared by Creed: his childhood friend Damian Anderson, played by Jonathan Majors, who also plays the antagonist in “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” which is also in theaters now.

Majors shows up one day, out of the blue, to throw a proverbial wrench into Creed’s idyllic life. Creed is now a revered former boxer-turned-promoter and is enjoying the spoils that come with his hard-fought success — fame, fortune and power — but Anderson wants what Creed has.


In a flashback that starts the two-hour movie rated PG-13, Creed and Anderson are depicted as young children and thick as thieves. As a boy, Creed kind of idolizes Anderson, who is shown as having a promising future in the ring when he starts off boxing in backroom matches.

The wayward youths get into more trouble than they can handle when Creed cannot contain his explosive anger at the world and violently assaults a former abuser, and Anderson comes to Creed’s defense albeit with more than just his fists. Anderson draws a gun when outnumbered.

The boys in blue suddenly show up on the scene and the cops surround the pair. Creed manages to flee on foot and abandons Anderson, who takes the fall for both of them and is sent behind bars for years while Creed amasses his wealth in the ring as a rising boxing star.

As one can imagine, there is resentment on Anderson’s part, albeit unspoken at the start of their reunion. Anderson wants — nay, feels he deserves — his time in the spotlight, a pretty wife and corporate endorsements, and believes he is entitled to a shot in the ring as a professional boxer.

Themes in the feature film “Creed III” such as loyalty, responsibility, friendship and more are just some of the compelling and time-honored topics that make the latest sequel in the franchise also the most financially successful one, a spinoff that began in 2015 in Balboa’s shadows.

Jordan made his directorial debut with “Creed III,” an arguably impressive one that hints at a career behind the camera just like Stallone, who was nominated for an Academy Award as the screenwriter for “Rocky,” which came out in 1976 or almost a decade before Jordan was born.

“Creed III” is the first movie in the spinoff series not to include Stallone reprising his signature role as Balboa. Stallone is credited, however, as a producer on “Creed III” with Ryan Coogler, who contributed to the new release’s plot; Coogler directed the 2015 hit “Creed” and co-wrote it.

“Creed III” currently has an 89% approval rating among critics and a 96% approval rating among audiences at Rotten Tomatoes, a review-aggregation website for film and television.


The consensus from the critics at “Stepping out from Rocky Balboa's iconic shadow at last, the ‘Creed’ franchise reasserts its champion status thanks to star Michael B. Jordan's punchy direction and a nuanced heel turn by Jonathan Majors.”

I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write features stories for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. The weekly newspaper is owned by Forum Communications Co.
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