Defying conventional wisdom about diminishing returns, this holiday season will see the release of the seventh installment in an iconic 1970s film franchise that not only lives up to the best of its predecessors, but also respectfully forges its own path. (Hopefully the new “Star Wars” movie is good, too.) With his “Rocky” spinoff, “Creed,” writer-director Ryan Coogler confirms every bit of promise he displayed in his 2013 debut, “Fruitvale Station,” offering a smart, kinetic, exhilaratingly well-crafted piece of mainstream filmmaking, and providing actor Michael B. Jordan with yet another substantial stepping stone on his climb to stardom. Yet the biggest surprise may be Sylvester Stallone: Appearing in the first “Rocky” film that he didn’t also write — and the first in which he takes on a supporting role — the veteran channels all his obvious love for the character into his performance, digging deeper as an actor than he has in years. Despite some heavyweight competition over Thanksgiving weekend, “Creed” should still be a contender at the box office.