One glimpse from Rocky's past was a believable and entertaining idea for the plot of Creed. Adonis Creed, spawn of Apollo Creed, sought out Rocky Balboa in hopes of getting the legend to train him. He succeeded, and the result was an incredibly powerful and inspiring film. To quote a YouTube commenter, the spinoff idea was "genius." I didn't review Creed at the time, but if I had I would have given it an A. Creed II, however, while still inspiring and sure to still delight fans of the Rocky universe, may have one too many nostalgic moments to retain the believability factor. (As believable as a fictional film can be, at least.)
This time it's Viktor Drago out for Creed. Yes, that's Drago as in the son of Ivan Drago, Rocky's villainous opponent from Rocky IV. For those who don't know or remember, Drago killed Apollo Creed in the ring, before losing to Rocky in Russia. The loss still stings, and Drago is determined to get revenge via his very tall, very muscular son.
The film starts off well, allowing us to see the relationship between Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) and Bianca (Tessa Thompson) blossom. And every scene Sly Stallone is in feels like a thrill. Then we get to the main plot. The battle in the middle of the film feels a little premature and unnecessary, as does the next 20 minutes of the film (you'll see what I mean). There are also some pretty predictable factors. We have the exaggerated war of words between the two boxers, Creed telling Rocky he "has" to take on Drago, and the montage of Creed preparing for his big fight. But, if we're being honest, audiences want all these ingredients.
Thankfully, the filmmakers resisted overplaying the soundtrack. Like the original Creed, we only get a tiny taste of the epic Rocky theme song. And it totally works. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say.
Having said my peace about the recycled storylines, the moments in the ring are still movie magic. Heck, the audience I screened the film with was so into the climactic fight that at one point a woman screamed, "Come on! Beat his ass!"
Oh and there's a baby. They always make movies better. And the relationship between Rocky and Adonis is still very enjoyable to watch develop. Whether they're trading funny insults or having contentious shouting matches, it all seems authentic. Kudos to Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone for maintaining that charming chemistry. It's clear that Rocky is more than a friend to the Creeds now - he's family.
Creed II is in theaters now.
We give it a: B.