Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Creed II

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  I was a boxer once.  I remember that one hit I took and then crumbled to the mat and wet myself.

Creed II – 4 out of 5

I’m a casual fan of the Rocky series.  I’m not a boxing fan at all and actually find the sport to be pretty barbaric but I can’t help but get that swell of enthusiasm that comes with sports films when Rocky Balboa knocks emmer effers out.  When the spinoff hit with Michael B. Jordan, I was very much into it.  It had the spirit of the franchise and yet never really felt like it was just doing the same thing all over again.  When it was announced that a sequel would arrive and bring with it the child of the iconic antagonist from Rocky IV, I was very excited because that moment when Dolph Lundgren says he must break Rocky is such a B.A. scene and I really liked the inherit concept of this spinoff bringing in a descendant of an old villain.  Creed really delivered a killer sports drama and sequels can be hard to live up to when such is the case; however, Creed II really packs…a great movie.  (I am not going to say “packs a punch.”  That’s for the other critics who actually get paid for their work.  Pay me and I’ll slap out those cheesy lines.)

I would put a joke here about boxing but I literally know nothing about sports.

Yeah, he is the champ but can he beat Mike Tyson
in Punch Out!?
Three years after the events of the first film, Adonis Creed (Jordan) has worked his way up to a shot at the WBC World Heavyweight title.  After a hard fought victory, he asks his girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson) to marry him and start a life together.  While, across the pond, Ivan Drago (Lundgren) lives in poverty after his loss to Rocky Balboa and trains his son Viktor (Florian Munteanu) to be a boxer and regain the family’s lost honor.  After a promoter lays down the challenge, Creed accepts to fight the Russian; after all, it was Ivan that killed Creed’s father in the ring.  With so much emotionally on the line with this fight, Creed asks Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) to train him but Rocky refuses since he realizes the fight is a bad idea.  Creed decides to go through with the fight anyway despite Rocky’s reservations and is left a beaten mess in the ring.  Seeing Creed broken, Rocky gets back in Creed’s corner to help him heal and help him train for the rematch.

Sly can really showcase his dramatic skills in these films.  It's nice.

Due to his commitments to Black Panther, director Ryan Coogler wasn’t able to return as director and I was definitely disappointed when I heard about it.  However, the film was clearly in great hands with director Steven Caple Jr.  He really hit the tone fantastically and was able to continue and build on what Coogler brought in the first film.  The biggest aspect one needs to get right in a sports triumph story is getting the lows and the highest of the highs.  You need to believe that the star player/team is down for the count on a superficial level and then be able to hit it at the top when the player/team gets that ultimate victory.  Caple nailed it in this respect.  He captured a tone that encompassed the right atmosphere that you feel it on an emotional level when Creed loses to Viktor and then experiences the unbridled joy of his ultimate victory.  It’s easy to get inspirational with sports drama when that win occurs but this film really delivered that win in a fantastic way and it was hard not to want to cheer for this completely fictionalized fight.

Yes!  Time to feel like shit about my body!

Admit it, we all kinda wanted her to marry Flavor Flav.
One aspect I really enjoyed was how Viktor Drago was handled.  It would be easy to just make him a generic villain.  Make him strong, make him unstoppable and you have your bad guy that Creed has to overcome.  Forgoing this, the story treats Viktor like a character that has his own obstacles he needs to get over and his own legacy he has to live up to.  After his defeat against Rocky, Ivan lost everything, including his wife (Brigitte Nielsen, who returned to play Ludmilla), and he became disgraced.  This meant Viktor grew up without a mother and she suddenly returns to his life as his country gives him their full support.  So, instead of being a cookie-cutter obstacle for Creed to face off against, he is his own character in his own story that has a lot to prove and a lot piling up on his shoulders.  This collision of fighters with their own motivations ends up culminating in an ending that was amazingly satisfying not only on that inspirational sports film level but on a human emotional level.

They sure picked the right guy for Viktor.  I received a fracture to my cheek
bone just looking at his intimidating stare.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that, from an acting standpoint, Creed II has got the goods.  Michael B. Jordan is just a powerhouse of a talent and he proves it each and every single film he does.  This feature is no exception.  You also have Tessa Thompson who, like Jordan, is just pure awesome and does a tremendous job at growing her character in this sequel.  Like the last film, Sly Stallone is fantastic  and I liked the frailty he brought to this film as Rocky is hesitant to see Creed be put in the same situation that claimed Creed’s father.  Despite being a man of few words in the film, Florian Munteanu is super intense as Viktor.  He’s a physical specimen with a very intense stare so, from a pure superficial standpoint, the guy is intimidating as hell but the intensity that he brought was also able to non-verbally express what he was going through.  Finally, I like Dolph Lundgren and still find the guy to be a badass mother but I really enjoyed the dramatic side he brought to this disheveled and nearly broken version of Ivan Drago.  Basically, from a cast standpoint, this movie does not falter in the least.

Man, the dude is still intimidating AF!

Creed II has all the heart and entertainment that the first one delivered.  The cast is astounding, I loved how it incorporates past elements of this franchise, and the ending is fairly dynamic and unique for the sports drama genre.  Sequels can be a difficult thing to get right and this one is one of those examples of a sequel getting things right and living up to what came before it.

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