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Michael B. Jordan's Directing Debut Packs a Punch


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By: Isaac P. Ale
March 08, 2023

Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors in Creed 3 Creed III [2023]

Film

Eight years after Ryan Coogler resurrected the Rocky franchise with a youthful injection of Apollo Creed's (Carl Weathers) son Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) we get the finale to the Creed trilogy, Creed III. While Coogler directed the first Creed and wrote the screenplay, he's taken on a producer role for the latter two films along with creating the story for Creed III. The big news surrounding the third film prior to its filming was the absence of Rocky Balboa(Sylvester Stallone). Stallone didn't agree with the third installment's darker tone but also Michael B. Jordan, as a director and producer, wanted the third film to explore more of Adonis' story and life on its own, instead of with the safety net of Rocky's character.

While Rocky has been a cornerstone in the first two films, Creed III reaches new heights with a combination of storytelling and sublime performances from Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors. Taking place in the years of Adonis' retirement from boxing, he's now the proprietor of a boxing gym working on his legacy outside the ring. Quickly in the film's introduction an old friend from Adonis' childhood, Damian (Majors), is released from prison and reconnects with Adonis. Majority of the film's dark tones is attributed to the relationship of Adonis and Damian, where we find out Damian went to prison for essentially protecting Adonis when they were children. Damian, at the time an up and coming boxer, is forced to watch from a cell as Adonis reaches the pantheon of boxing careers, achieving everything he had been working his whole young life for.

Overall the story works really well, which is nothing new for Coogler, but the exclamation point of its success is the performances of Jordan and Majors. Both actors are undeniably on top of their game, with Majors making an incredible conflicted villain that you're rooting for in the first half of the film. It's written, and acted, so well that I was hurt when his character started going down a more antagonistic path in the latter half. Not to mention there's some intricate subtle layering of motif across the development of the main roles. Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and Adonis have both relegated the performative part of their careers to others, with Bianca primarily producing music and no longer performing and Adonis taking more of a coaching role at his boxing gym. Juxtaposing these character dynamics next to Damian, having his active career days taken from him through 18 years in prison strengthens the divide between characters and manifests some well written tension.

Jonathan Majors in Creed 3 Creed III [2023]

Creed, and Creed II for that matter, boasted some of the best boxing fight scenes I've ever seen, with the first film having something like a 12 minute one cut fight. Jordan's ability to work in space, while boxing is pitch perfect, you would think that it's highly unlikely that he can top a scene like that. Right?!

Wrong!

The finale fight sequence in Creed III is seriously the stuff of legends. Everything about it is chef's kiss. Reaching a boiling point with Adonis and Damian thrusts the audience in the middle of the ultimate conflict that leaves no stone unturned. There's power punches, knockdowns, Jordan and Majors' abilities to understand space and timing, it all comes together in explosive fashion.

Of course there's another element to this film that needs to be praised in order to understand why it all works so well, and that's Michael B. Jordan's direction.

In his first directing role it is as clear as it can possibly be, that he has the it factor. Director Michael B. Jordan knows how to work a camera, flawlessly. The finale fight scene is one mere example of it, with the camera moving to the beat of the boxers, the crowd disappearing and the ropes being replaced with jail bars its clear that Jordan has not only an exquisite vision but the ability to pull the whole damn thing off. There are a few shots in the film that you would think were done by a well established director that has had the time and experience to play around with different ideas. Prior to Damian's fight with Felix Chavez (Jose Benavidez), his big chance out of prison, there's a split shot of Adonis and Damian divided by a wall. Aesthetically appealing, thematically sound, and stronger than hell that shot sears into your brain and establishes some serious character development and thematic elements of the film. I'm 99% sure I audibly gasped when that scene came up, and I still can't get it out of my head.

A huge kudos to Michael B. Jordan on this ridiculously good first directing credit and Jonathan Majors for continuing to kick some serious ass through his performances. Creed III is a dream finale for a trilogy and cements the Creed trilogy as one of the best in sports movie history and possibly the history of trilogies as a whole.

Froth

I'm not going to bury the lead here, the best beer for you here is one that's going to work as hard as Michael B. Jordan. You need something that's going to crush obstacles, and kick ass nonstop. That's right, you need the Nonstop Crush from Reuben's Brews!

Just as crushable as the Creed trilogy this little ditty packs an exquisite punch of tropical flavors ranging from pineapple all the way to passionfruit. I guess that doesn't seem like too large of a range on paper but believe me, its got a great flavor profile! Including some piney notes that round out the aromatic elements it also is a refreshing hazy that has a traditional hazy mouthfeel that goes down much easier than a boxing Jonathan Majors.

I'll also give a huge shoutout to Reubens Brews, they were our final stop when Hopster was in Seattle on our Ballard Brewed passport excursion! Unfortunately, when you're rounding third and heading home to your 11th brewery you lose track of time and we had missed last call. But the wonderful people there allowed buying some to go cans to cover that last stamp on our brewery crawl! This brew was the product of that purchase and I am so pleased by the choice and you should try it if you get the chance!

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