Staring Into History

For Creed III not to give Rocky/Sylvester Stallone a proper send-off – not even a mention beyond hyping a fight – is inexcusable to that character’s legacy. Among the screen’s giants in terms of a generational character building, to toss him aside as a byproduct feels every bit as wrong as it is.

What an incredible, seemingly intentional misfire that was too, as Creed III is among the best films in this series, Rocky and Creed combined. No longer beholden to flashiness, willing to drop any pretense of humor, Creed III elevates the boxing franchise by telling a story that is infinitely authentic and allegorical.

Creed III takes chances, respectable, daring ones too

Clearly Adonis Creed’s (Michael B. Jordan) story at this stage, the script forces him to see himself as he was, and becoming increasingly angered as a past friend Damian (Johnathan Majors) follows the same path. There’s an indelible, gripping honesty in this story about one man who recovered from the pressures of his legacy, and another who continues to flail helplessly.

The best Rocky sequels deal in personal turmoil between the fighters rather than macho, masculine aimlessness based entirely on flexed muscles. Creed II fell partly into that trap, satisfying more on legacy than interpersonal drama. Creed III is corrective, dropping nearly every link to previous films to focus entirely on two men trying to establish their own identities.

Creed III takes chances, respectable, daring ones too. There’s no humorous release valve; Creed III’s seriousness doesn’t allow for it. During the final bout, the stadium empties and creative decisions allegorically depict – visually – all that matters in the moment, the two men staring one another down, confronting their intertwined pasts.

It’s remorseful, honest, and pure in a way few male-focused dramas are willing to be. The emotion is truthful and open. Creed III shows Adonis in crisis, trying to keep his personal mistakes buried. After struggling, his willingness to open up and talk is more inspiring than anything happening in the ring, because Creed III shows the difficulty in just admitting there’s a problem. Allowing this well-to-do world champion to break down because of mental block is daring, more so than many will give Creed III credit for.

Who wins matters. In Rocky films, that has more to do with audience satisfaction – everyone naturally roots for the underdog. In Creed III, it’s about deflating ego and bloated masculinity, but retaining those elements through sheer determination the way boxers know how. It’s truly stellar.


Aggressive in its imagery, Creed III appreciates deep, crushing darkness, and yes, that means shadows soak up detail, keeping it unseen. That’s common, and unusual for Dolby Vision or HDR. That makes it almost certain a creative decision. Highlights lack spark too. Not that they lack intensity, but maintain a general cloudiness to suit the tone. It’s dim.

Thankfully, Creed III is impossibly sharp, and true 4K. Precision shows everywhere, drawing out pristine texture. In close or from afar, the definition shows off. Occasional knots come from noise, with Warner’s encode struggling to hold itself together. Creed III makes an ugly first impression with smeary compression filling a ceiling over a boxing ring. Thankfully that’s quick to pass.

Veering warm, color grading favors amber tones overall. Primaries saturate, favoring intensity and vividness, even with the heated tint. That’s also why the contrast doesn’t pop as pure white takes on the intended push.


Boomy music stings throb in the low-end, punches adding additional oomph. Range extends to an impressive depth, rattling the room to make Creed III sound appropriately larger than reality.

Crowds surround the soundstage impressively, making a convincing push into every speaker. Inside the gym, guys punch bags in each speaker, extending the space naturally. It’s a consistent performer, focused on keeping activity high.


On the Blu-ray only, things begin with a featurette on Michael B. Jordan’s actor/director role. A little over nine-minutes is spend exploring on Dame and Creed’s characters. Three deleted scenes then finish the disc off.

Creed III
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  • Audio
  • Extras


Aside from giving Rocky no proper dues, Creed III is a sensational, drama-rich sequel in a series that just keeps giving.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 43 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:

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