Creed II is the latest film in the Rocky franchise, which is now on its eighth film. The franchise rebooted two years ago, with a new main character, Adonis Creed son of first film antagonist Apollo Creed. If you recall my review of that film I really enjoyed Creed and I thought it was a breath of fresh air for the franchise. I was looking forward to seeing how this would work going forward. Now we are two years down the line, and Creeds success has sporned a sequel.
The major difference being that this time director Ryan Coogler is no longer on the project as he was off directing Black Panther. So, in his place we have director Steven Caple Jr. I had heard good things, according to IMDB he is most known for films called The Land and A Different Tree, neither of which I have seen.
What’s more, Sylvester Stallone is keeping a firm grip on the franchise by co-writing the screenplay. This time he is also joined by Juel Taylor. He hasn’t developed the story though, that was done by a team of Sascha Penn and Cheo Hodari Coker. The latter of which was producer for the Netflix series Luke Cage.
So here we are, two years down the line. Not only does this film have to continue the Rocky story, it has to follow on from other entries in the franchise. Creed was very good in the sense it doesn’t tie back to too many of the other films, but it does have a sort of connection with them. As we got from the trailers, this will be the first time there is a bridge between them.
Ok, Creed II is set only a few years after the events of the first Creed film. Though it is also under the assumption that you have seen the film Rocky 4. If you don’t know which one I’m on about, it’s the one that went a bit wacky, ??? got a robot for his birthday and we had the whole Russia V America boxing match, which SPOILER ALERT resulted in Apollo Creed’s death to the hands of the soviet boxer, Ivan Drago.
This film takes place after Adonis Creed, played by Michael B Jordan has gained the heavyweight championship and for his first title defence he’s got into a grudge match with Ivan Drago, reprised in his role by Dolph Lundgren and Dragos son Viktor, played by Florian Munteanu. The film results in Rocky, played once again by Sylvester Stallone, backing away from training him because he is worried of history repeating itself.
This film doesn’t sound like it’s very complicated, or even that long of a film. But god it is long. This films 2 hours and 10 minutes, but luckily this film flies by. There is not too much of that usual themes these Rocky films have of, I don’t want you to fight, but I will end up supporting you in the end of the film. There is certainly an element of that, as I mentioned Rocky has now become a weird mix of Adrian Mickey since he is kind of in this position of not making the same mistakes he did. That’s a very core theme of this film, it’s about passing on the torch in a sense, should it mimic the previous ones or should it learn from the mistakes of the previous.
There are all sorts of sub plots surrounding that, there is a whole factor of him not seeing his son in quite a long time and trying to get back in contact. There is the fact that Adonis and his new wife Bianca, who you may remember from the previous film, played by Tessa Thompson, are having a child. There is also the whole factor that Ivan still blames Rocky for what happened, he lost everything and he looks a lot more dishevelled this time round.
Dolph Lundgren really plays Ivan like a broken man which is kind of ironic considering that one of the few things he actually said in the original Rocky 4 was ‘I must break you’, something he does not refrain from saying in parts of this film. Abonnement issues are definitely something between Ivan and Viktor who have had everything taken away from them and are trying to reclaim it. However, their sub plot feels rather under-developed, that’s the real negative I will say about Creed II. A couple of the side characters feel ferally under-developed, most notably Ivan and Viktor. Their sub-plot could be more, the same as with Bianca, who’s sub-plot might well have been cut.
The only other negative I can say about this film, there’s nothing like the one shot boxing fight that we saw in the first film. There is no impressive moment like that. It does feel like this film is dragging its heels a couple of times. But dear god Creed II is well written. While a few sub-plots may feel underwritten, they’re not non-existent and they work very well. The boxing scenes that have made it into the film are really well done.
Once again, the antagonist, Viktor, is played by an actual real Romanian boxer Florian ‘Big Nasty’ Munteanu. He definitely fits the role to be Ivan Drago’s son, since he towers above Michael B Jordan. What surprised me even more was that he can actually act in a sense. He doesn’t get too many scenes to do stuff in and his dialogue is fairly limited (like father, like son) but he certainly stands out in the film a lot more than Tony Bello from the previous film who was less of an antagonist and more of a final opponent. I actually like the fact they brought back an antagonisticall edge to the boxer, but they haven’t lost the sense of down to earth realism the previous film had.
I mentioned in the previous film that it felt weird to go back to down to earth realism, considering how out there Rocky 4 was, which was more evident this time round. Since this film draws directly parallel to Rocky 4. It’s a bit weird to think that Ivan Drago was this sort of super boxer that had been enhanced from technology, and he basically could fit in with the cast of Street Fighter. Which frankly kind of contrasts with the tone set by these films.
To be fair Dolph Lundgren in this film gets to act a lot more than he has in previous films. It does still seem a bit weird that a Swedish guy and a Romanian guy are both playing Russians, but there you go.
In fact, this whole film has tonnes of performances that could easily be nominated for Oscars. The lead and supporting actors, this includes Tessa Thompson who wants to get knocked out the park, as well as Michael B Jordan who I think after this time won’t miss out on a best Oscar nomination. Sylvester Stallone once again as Rocky I suspect won’t receive an Oscar nomination this time round. I wouldn’t even object to Dolph Lundgren receiving a nomination for receiving best supporting actor at this point. It would also be remissive if I didn’t mention Phylicia Rashad, who gets a lot more of an expanded role in this performance.
Most of what you like about Rocky is here, including the obvious training montages, but would you really want one of these films without those. Much like the previous Creed film there is a lot of a new sense to it, not just from the hip-hop soundtrack, which apart from the closing credits was one of my favourites. It does suit the film really well and they enjoy it.
If there is anything else to say about this film, when someone gets hurt you really feel it and it’s a credit to how well the fights are choreographed. I think this film will do a lot more for the older Rocky fans since it tries to capture a lot more of their nostalgia. This being said, it is not at expense of the new audience.
Creed II is a phenomenal piece of work. It builds off the first one expertly and is ferally cathartic after my last couple of reviews, seeing as I’ve gone from last week, reviewing one of the worst films from 2018, to one of the best films I’ve seen in 2018. The performances are beyond excellent and it does a really good job of tying the Creed movies to the Rocky movies. With some excellent performances, the majority of which are Oscar worthy.
If you have any interest, please see this film while it is in cinemas. It’s a phenomenal film that you really must see and I urge you to check it out.
Right, I did promise a mini review of Wreck It Ralph 2 and here it is.
Well, that’s it from me this week. I will be reviewing the first in the series of 2 superhero films. Firstly, I will be looking into Spiderman: into the Spider verse.
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