Creed was such a pleasing surprise that I was positive a sequel wouldn’t be able to match it in terms of sheer enjoyment and emotional impact. And sadly, I was right. Creed II doesn’t have the same weight or intensity that the original was so steeped in, but it does find its way and becomes its own creature by the film’s end. The artistic directing choices of Ryan Coogler have been replaced by the (possibly?) equally talented filmmaker Steven Caple Jr. Both directors have found grounded realistic visual approaches to the material. More so than the original, Creed II focuses primarily on the character of Adonis. Rocky has finally been placed in the background. His transition into the Mickey character has come full circle. This makes a glaring reality come to the forefront–Adonis acts like an impetuous, arrogant, brat for stretches of the film. This attitude makes it difficult to sympathize with his struggles, particularly when he lashes out at Rocky. But you do find yourself swept up in the interpersonal relations of the picture and the rousing final fight scene.
The second chapter in the Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) story follows his life inside and outside of the ring as he deals with new-found fame, issues with his family, and his continuing quest to become a champion. Against the wishes of trainer Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), Adonis accepts a challenge from Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu) son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), the man who killed Apollo Creed in a tragic fight decades prior. Under guidance from Rocky, Adonis trains for the showdown of his life — a date with destiny that soon becomes his obsession. Now, Donnie and Balboa must confront their shared legacy as the past comes back to haunt each man.
Rocky is my Star Wars. I can’t believe I’m getting quality spin-offs and the characters and mythology that came 30-40 years before are still being referenced in 2018. For that alone I’m thankful. But I have to admit I kept waiting for the big moment to hit me like it had numerous times in Creed, and it never came. Creed II is a worthy sequel and welcomed addition to the Rocky/Creed legacy, but it’s a step slower and not as powerful as it’s predecessor. Having presumably exhausted the mythology it might be a good spot to stop before things digress into laughable exercises in narcissism.
Director: Steven Caple Jr
Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson Wood Harris, Phylicia Rashad, Dolph Lundgren