The “Rocky” franchise is back in theaters with a second installment, this time focusing on Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Creed. The sequel packs an emotional punch, as many “Rocky” films do. Making a follow-up to 2015’s critically acclaimed “Creed” is no easy task, especially when the film’s director moved on to make one of the highest-grossing movies of all time with this February’s “Black Panther.” Without Ryan Coogler at the helm, who moved into the role of executive producer, the franchise reigns were handed off to relative newcomer Steven Caple Jr. Caple Jr. showed he is very capable of directing a movie of such fanfare.
“Creed II” had a lot to accomplish, with many characters to juggle, arcs to advance, and series expectations to meet. “Creed II” brings back fan-favorite antagonist, Ivan Drago, who since his loss to Rocky in the franchise’s fourth installment, has been amidst a country-imposed exile and training his son to become a boxer to do the job he never could: win. After receiving a challenge from the Dragos, Creed is left with the choice to fight to avenge his father’s ghosts or become comfortable in his new lifestyle. The results show Creed exudes the same type of pride that got his father killed in the ring and leaves Adonis with demons he will have to spend the rest of the film confronting. The film is beautifully shot and still finds a way to advance the Rocky tradition of epic training montages despite being in its eighth outing. While the movie does little to change the fighting landscape, the portrait painted of Adonis and Bianca’s relationship comes across as incredibly natural and authentic. Even though much of the set-up is required, the film drags towards the middle as it leads up to the film’s epic conclusion and incredibly cinematic final bout. All-in-all, while “Creed II” is by no means the best “Rocky” film (it probably isn’t the best “Creed” film) but, the movie is a very fun watch and gives the audience exactly what they want. You get to see Adonis, Rocky, and Drago all pushed to their limits, and you get to see what it is the characters are made of. The movie advances the franchise just as far as it needs to and leaves you satisfied, but ready to see what is next for the protagonist.
Jacob Hales, Features Writer