“Creed”: A graceful passing of the baton that’s anything but rocky

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“Creed” is now playing at Point, Palace, AMC Fitchburg and Sundance Cinemas. PG-13, 2:12, three and a half stars out of four.

Anyone who wants to understand how formula doesn’t dictate form should watch the new “Creed” and this summer’s “Southpaw” back-to-back. Both are boxing dramas that follow a similar arc, hitting many of the same notes. But while “Southpaw” felt forced and melodramatic, “Creed” is a hugely entertaining and rousing film. Same ingredients, different result.

It helps that “Creed” is following in the footsteps of the master, 1976’s “Rocky.” In many ways, this is the seventh installment in the four-decade-old series, and the best since the original. But it’s also very much its own movie, with its own feel and texture, its own hero, and a graceful handing of the baton from one champ to the next.

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