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article imageReview: ‘Creed II’ takes what worked and rejigs it for a dual sequel Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Nov 22, 2018 in Entertainment
‘Creed II’ is a great ‘Rocky’ sequel fans didn’t know they wanted, even if they know exactly how it’s going to play out.
It took time and couple of not great movies for studio execs to realize audiences no longer desired narratives centred on Rocky Balboa. Watching a now much older Sylvester Stallone be pummelled in the ring by a young upstart is more sad than thrilling. Just because the actor is still physically fit enough to do the scenes doesn’t mean he should. Then they decided to reboot the franchise and give Rocky a more fitting role as the coach of a young a boxer with a connection to his past. Now, in Creed II, the past comes knocking and Donny feels an overwhelming need to answer.
Adonis “Donny” “Hollywood” Creed (Michael B. Jordan) is at the top of his game and on the path of a world boxing champion. His personal life is also flourishing as things with Bianca (Tessa Thompson) are great and Rocky (Stallone) is in remission. And then the big bad wolf comes knocking down his door to disrupt his happiness. Ivan Drago’s (Dolph Lundgren) son, Viktor (Florian Munteanu), wants the opportunity to restore his family’s name by defeating Rocky’s protégé and the son of the man that started it all. In spite of everyone’s warnings, Donny accepts the challenge and begins a journey that will tear him down and build him back up stronger than ever.
The movie combines the plots of Rocky III and Rocky IV with all the key players from the latter returning to make the continuity seamless. As a result, this picture is as much, if not more, of a Rocky sequel as it is a follow-up to Creed. However, since this plot has played out before, the story’s direction is easily predicted and each move anticipated. Yet, even when you know what’s going to happen, there is something captivating about the passion the characters have for the sport they can’t live without — no matter how many times it nearly kills them — and the thrill of watching two men with whom the audience have become familiar fight until they have nothing left to give.
Nonetheless, there’s nothing ground-breaking about this picture. But its understanding of the franchise’s history is evident and a significant contributor to creating a movie that long-time fans will enjoy. The Dragos’ arrival in Philadelphia to see the ways the city embraced its hero is grimly juxtaposed with their gruelling life in the Ukraine after being expelled from their homeland. There are also notable throwbacks to the original series, from the music to the costumes to the stage entrances. The film has a lot of heart, which it shows through touching interactions between its characters, as well as a knack for boxing dramatics that drive the various personalities forward. That said, the gravitas of the contest may be lost on anyone not familiar with the characters’ deadly past.
It would have been nice to see a more original approach to this grudge match, but the formula still works 30 years later so if it ain’t broke….
Director: Steven Caple Jr.
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone and Tessa Thompson
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