November 25, 2018

Movie Review #53 Creed II

Creed II (2018) Michael B. Jordan, Sylvestor Stallone, Rebecca Tessa Thompson, and Dolph Lundgren. Directed by Steven Caple Jr. 

A champion has risen, and his name is Adonis Creed! 

Steven Caple, a relative newcomer director who has mostly TV credits to his name takes the fertile Rocky franchise reigns from Creed director Ryan Coogler and Sly Stallone to carry the Creed franchise into the next phase…and he nails it! Now maybe one thinks the story of Adonis Creed (played well again by Michael B. Jordan) fighting the son of Ivan Drago (a very solid and worn looking Dolph Lundgren) writes itself and does not require a skilled director to make watchable (um yea that’s a fair point), but think again because not only does Caple Jr. pay proper homage to all the Rocky films of the past, but he treats Rocky IV like it should be treated (THE BEST OF THE ROCKY FILMS). I was unprepared for just how much Ivan Drago is in this film, and I was surprised by the choices the filmmakers made for him and his son (played quietly well by Florian Munteanu). My one small beef is that we really don’t get that end conversation between Ivan and Rocky (played again near perfectly by Sly Stallone, who has really hit the sweet spot with this character), they share a few scenes, but I wanted a little bit more. A nice touch is bringing back This is Us star Milo Ventimiglia who played Rocky’s son, Robert Balboa in 2006’s Rocky Balboa (A film I liked quite a bit) and even more shockingly they brought back former Sly Stallone girlfriend Brigitte Nielsen (Ivan Drago’s former wife). 

I mean in an age where fan service is rampant (Star Wars, Marvel and DC Universe’s, Harry Potters world of wizarding) why not give a little fan service to the Rocky fans? I think the difference with this fan service is that it is well thought out and well made. I honestly could see a few more Oscar nominations coming for this film (Creed famously earned Sly a Best Supporting actor nomination which he should have won but was held out of the Best Picture category).  Tessa Thompson brings some wonderful realism to the film (and mostly ditches the weird Philly accent from the first film) and Phylicia Rashad again kills it as Mary Anne Creed. Rarely do sequels please the soul as much as this one does (this is really the 8thRocky film, just incredible when you think about it), but make no mistake Creed II delivers and delivers big. You will leave theaters pumped, SEE IT!

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) In 2015 I gave Creed a 6.5 on the Shawshank Scale and this film was just one end credits conversation with Rocky and Ivan away from besting that. Perfect fan service, great cinematography again, cool cameos, and Dolph Lundgren being a believable dad, all equal a very solid 6.5 on the Shawshank scale (and at the time of this review, #1 film of the year). 

Question: How many more Creed films can they make? I think if they hung it up after Creed II, they will have definitely righted the wrongs of Rocky V and left this franchise with an undeniably positive legacy. Sly was nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for the same character (Rocky), I mean that is crazy. Pushing forward with more Creed films and perhaps actually killing Rocky on screen may risk tarnishing what Sly and everyone else worked so hard to fix (starting with Rocky Balboa and then cementing in Creed II). That said Michael B. Jordan is great as Creed and perhaps he could move forward without Sly and that would be worthwhile. I don’t know if they should make more of these, but I know that if they make another, I’ll be there to pay to see it. 

Ranking the Rocky films (cause why not!):

1. Rocky IV (If he dies, he dies)
2. Creed II (He is just a man…be more a man than him)
3. Creed (One step at a time, one punch at a time, one round at a time)
4. Rocky Balboa (The last thing to age on somebody is their heart)
5. Rocky III (What’s your prediction for the fight? PAIN)
6. Rocky II (You’re gonna eat lighting; you’re gonna crap thunder!)
7. Rocky (He doesn’t know it’s a damn show! He thinks its a damn fight!)
8. Rocky V (He says he wants to fight. I told him to get married)