It’s crazy that it has now been 42 years since the original Rocky movie was released and we have now had 8 movies in the series. I found it interesting that Ryan Coogler (Director of Creed, Black Panther) took a step back on Creed II and just did some of the screenwriting while Stevan Caple Jr. took over the reins as the director of a big budget movie for the first time in his career. Would the Creed II be able to stay standing in the ring of great boxing films or would it fall on its face to a first-round knockout like so many cliche money-grabbing sequels? Will Perry use boxing analogies throughout the entire movie review or will he run out of creative comparisons? Let’s find out! (Spoilers)
Let’s face it, there is only so much you can do with the plot of a boxing movie. The original Creed movie used the story of an underdog rising from humble beginnings to challenge the undisputed champ and take him the distance but lose on judge’s decision. This storyline was also used for Rocky I and Rocky VI (Rocky Balboa), as well as the robot boxing movie Real Steel. Creed II takes more of the position of a boxer that has reached the top, but for one reason or another comes crashing down. He has to dig into his soul to find a reason to fight again and eventually overcomes all odds to taste victory again. This plot is seen in Rocky III, Southpaw, and Cinderella Man. My point is that if you watch a lot of boxing movies you realize that they are all pretty similar, and Creed II is no exception.
As much as I enjoy the Rocky movies, it is becomes a tough task to endure through 72 year old Sylvester Stallone struggling to deliver his lines. It is unfortunate because he has some really solid lines, but just doesn’t deliver them well.
Another small issue I had with this film had to do with pacing. You never really know how much time is passing. You pretty much start the movie off with a fight then a challenge from Drago’s kid immediately following. After a short training montage, it is already fight night again. In real life, it usually takes 6-8 weeks or longer to train for a fight and that isn’t accounting for time to recover from a previous fight. I am not a boxing expert but I imagine it probably takes months for any boxer to fully heal from a fight before they start training for the next one. So if there are 3 fights in this film, what kind of time frame are we looking for the entire movie. To the audience, it feels like the whole movie takes place in a matter of weeks. In reality, though, it is more likely the events of this movie would take place in 2-3 years. It is just tough to get a sense of the pacing of the movie and it is a little confusing for the audience to follow.
Though Ryan Coogler isn’t the director of the film, you really get a sense that his signature style is definitely ingrained into Creed II. I really enjoyed the mood of the film as a whole. It had very powerful dialogue and did a great job of letting the soundtrack set the tone for almost every scene. Speaking of the powerful dialogue, there were some fantastic lines in this film. Caple Jr. does a great job in making Creed II feel less like your ho-hum boxing movie and like more of an emotional journey through the trials of a close friend.
This film is absolutely jam-packed with Rocky nostalgia. For someone who has watched the entire series, it feels almost like this is the sequel to Rocky IV that fans deserve (as opposed to Rocky V and Rocky Balboa, which were both kinda bad). Dolph Lundgren reprises his role as Ivan Drago, only this time his son Viktor is the dangerous Russian challenger. Viktor Drago is played by Florian Munteanu, who I am convinced could join the NFL tomorrow and lead the NFL in sacks. The dude is HUGE.
I have never been a huge fan of Michael B. Jordan’s acting (see my review of Black Panther) but I think he does a spectacular job of looking the part he his playing. He is not the most convincing when it comes to delivering his lines, but all things considered, I think he did a pretty good job in the film. He has decent chemistry with Stallone as well as Tessa Thompson. Speaking of Tessa Thompson, she absolutely acts circles around everyone else in this film. I’m convinced that she has the talent to take home an Oscar one of these days, it probably won’t be for this film but I think it is coming.
While Creed II does fall heavily into many stereotypes and cliches of boxing movies past, it surpasses some of its predecessors in terms of authenticity and emotions. It looks good, feels good, and has a great soundtrack. In terms of enjoyment value, Creed II is up there for one of the better movies I have seen this year.