Creed II

Michael B. Jordon returns to the ring as Adonis Creed, the son of legendary boxer Apollo Creed, in a film that sees him become involved with the son of the man who killed Apollo, Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu).

The sequel to the surprise hit Creed arrives in theaters this Thanksgiving with a solid, if not quite as spectacular, film in the Rocky franchise.

Sylvester Stallone returns to his iconic role of Rocky Balboa for this sequel that deals with the once powerful Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) and his son finding the perfect moment to launch an attack on the newly crowned world champion, Adonis Creed.

There are a lot of scenes that deal with the tragic events from Rocky IV back in the 1980s where Ivan Drago killed Apollo in a boxing match, a match where Rocky wanted to throw in the towel, but did not.  There are many good emotional beats coming from this event, in particular from Stallone, who had to deal with his choices for years.

We also find out that the years were not kind to Ivan Drago either as the Russian people treated him as an outcast, throwing him and his son, to the side after the crushing defeat at the hands of Balboa.

Creed II truly is what you get when you combine Rocky IV with Rocky III.  Not that combining those two films is a bad thing, but you clearly can see several of the beats of those Rocky movies in Creed II.  Some claim that the original Creed was really a remake of the first Rocky, but there were enough differences and originality that made it its own.  This one could have used a little more originality to help separate it from these past Rocky movies.

However, the film is very good anyway.  The boxing scenes at the end are excellent (though not near as great as the one shot match from Creed).  The scenes between Jordan and Stallone are some of the film’s best too.

The film goes heavily into the relationship between Creed and his wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and they have a great chemistry.  Their relationship is a major selling point for this movie as it is unlike most relationships in this type of movie.

I even really enjoyed the little bit of characterization that the film gave to the Dragos.  They provided just enough detail to make you see these two men as real people and not the mindless Russian monster, like Ivan Drago was portrayed as in Rocky IV.  I liked the stuff from their background.

I did find it very contrived with how the final match wound up occurring where it occurred.  I had a hard time believing that is what would actually happen and it pulled me out of the movie.  I found, as well, the final training montage to be uninspired and a basic throwback to the past Rocky movies.

However, the boxing match is outstanding, the relationships and the characters themselves are really great and every story gets wrapped up beautifully.  While this may not be quite an equal to the original Creed picture, the sequel is a fine movie in its own accord.

4.25 stars

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