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Creed II is the sequel we all wanted for Creed and surprisingly was the proper way to conclude the franchise if need be. Energetic beyond belief, Creed II anchors on the drama and remains standing with the boxing matches sprinkled within. Needless to say, Creed II is a dream, and any Rocky fan needs this film in their life.
While a fine imitation of Coogler’s unbelievable direction in the first Creed, Creed II is missing the mark just a bit with vibrancy. While not managing to capture the unique “wow” factor from the first Creed, Steven Caple Jr. still succeeds in every single other way possible - making a grisly and emotional possible conclusion for Adonis (Johnson) Creed and/or Rocky Balboa. What Caple Jr. and Coogler did with both entries is create an emotional expansion to the original series while capturing the boxing matches with such strong direction that it’s nearly impossible to not root for Creed. Out of the ring, Creed II focuses on the repercussions of the fight with Drago, intimate details within Creed’s relationship, and of course you can’t have Rocky Balboa in your film without an iconic Rocky training montage. Coogler and Caple Jr. are the two people that made these films work, make these films thrive, and more than anything, make these films an experience to be had.
This emotionally heavy plot follows newly appointed Heavyweight Champion of the world Adonis Creed as he gets involved in a match with the son of the man who killed his father, Viktor Drago. As the story progresses, the film dives deeper and deeper into the lack of emotional restraint Creed possesses, making Creed II similar to other entries in this long running series of more melodrama than a pure boxing action. A major issue I personally had with the first Creed was how the film dove too deep into the backstory of Bianca, Adonis’ love interest. Rocky (I) wasn’t about Adrian, the film was about Rocky, so as should have been the case with Creed. Now that her backstory is developed, she is pushed slightly aside for Creed to take center stage in his own feature, while still keeping her just as involved in his life as she was in the original. Rocky shares the spotlight with Adonis this time around, and it’s great to see Rocky again caring for the young champion as Adonis seems to be making decisions with his heart and not his head. Plenty of the scenes with Rocky pack the biggest punch to the heart, as they can make anyone easily spiral into a pit of emotions. There are NO SPOILERS attached to this review, just like always, so all that can be said about this subject is that if this is the end to the Rocky Balboa legacy, then this is the best possible conclusion it could ever have. Thrilling, emotional, and just a fantastic sequel. With Stallone assisting the script, Creed II is easily one of the best sports films around and incontestably one of the best sequels ever made.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Before we dive head first into the characters, let’s speak briefly about the acting, because there’s almost a repetitive comment that needs to be said about everyone involved: everyone is phenomenal. Not for one moment did I lose interest in these characters. With all of their quirks and issues, I was instantly compelled to follow them to the end. While a simple revenge story, sure, the emotions converted by Michael B Jordan as Creed throughout were heartbreaking and troubling all at once, and same goes with his rival Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu). Although having similar emotional pain, they both handle themselves differently. The return of Rocky was another moving moment for sure, and while it was surely expected, it was still a great addition to the story and a good side rivalry with Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) to follow along the way. What has already been mentioned by myself in the earlier section is that Tessa Thompson’s character may have been numbed down a touch from her role in the previous film, but her performance still shines through and makes for a great motivation for Creed’s success in the fight.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The pulls from the original Rocky score were incredibly minimal, and while that’s sure to be a thumbs down for some, the original score that Creed II takes on is even more invigorating during the film. Even with the drama taking the lead, the fights are what everyone is talking about and that’s in part due to the sound design. Just like the incredible effects and direction, these fights would not be as compelling, frightening, or realistic without this quality of sound. When every punch sounds like it genuinely impacted the character in a devastating way, you know that the boxing film has got the right idea with the sound. There’s also a disheartening moment during the film which I won’t spoil here, but without the quiet nature of the sound in this one scene, the impact would have been much, much lighter.
The boxing matches are executed to perfection, and at times you feel like you’re in the ring alongside the fighters. Even at the lowest moments watching it on HBO, it feels highly realistic is what I’m really getting at. The beatings are incredibly brutal and painful to watch, especially when a certain illegal move takes place. With every punch, you best believe that the makeup after impact is just as gruesome as any real fight - round of applause to the makeup department for this feat.
It’s safe to say my love for Creed II is colossal as there’s hardly a thing wrong to elaborate on for this perfect sequel. A brilliant continuation of the Rocky legacy and now a perfect end to Creed. These are two unforgettable films, but I think this sequel may be the last jab the franchise has got in it. Why ruin a perfect thing? For fans of Rocky and especially fans of the first Creed, it’s almost impossible to be let down by this film as it succeeds in doing what a sequel needs to do, which is to deliver a story worth returning for. Creed II does it with massive amounts of heart.