The Rocky franchise has been popular amongst international audiences since 1977 when the original film won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Forty-one years after that victory, the eighth movie of the series was released, titled Creed II.
The movie is a sequel to 2015’s Creed, a spin-off from the original Rocky Balboa storyline following the son of one of Rocky’s greatest boxing opponents and friends, the late Apollo Creed, rising to prominence in the boxing world. In the first film, Adonis Creed made a name for himself after following the mentorship of his father’s old muse, allowing him to compete in high stakes fights. Three years later, in Creed II, Adonis is still fighting, this time for the World Boxing Championship. However, the title is not the highest priority in his career. He’s scheduled to fight Victor Drago, son of Ivan Drago, the man who killed Apollo in the boxing ring back in 1985.
The film covers a variety of themes and morals as according to Rotten Tomatoes, “Rocky and Adonis will confront their shared legacy, question what’s worth fighting for, and discover that nothings more important than family.”
Michael B. Jordan reprises his role as Adonis, successfully recapturing the character’s cocky and somewhat arrogant traits while remaining a likable hero audiences can’t help but cheer for. Both Sylvester Stallone and Tessa Thompson give engaging supporting performances as Rocky Balboa and Creed’s fiancee, Bianca, portraying two characters important to Adonis’ life but in significantly different ways. Overall, the acting in Creed II helps make the film one of the most feel-good flicks of the season. Entertainment critic Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times claimed that the film “[adhered] to the time-honored “Rocky” formula of relatively intimate character scenes…”
The most notable difference between Creed II and its predecessor, Creed, is the blatant exclusion of the first film’s director, Ryan Coogler. Coogler opted not to return as director to the Creed franchise, opting to make the little known, indie film Black Panther instead. The film does suffer from his absence as Coogler played a major role in the establishment of the first Creed’s heart and passion, two aspects the sequel possesses but not the same level as Coogler’s original did. Coogler was present in the production of the film, serving as a producer. However, critics found incoming director Steven Caple Jr. as a suitable replacement as he, according to Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press, “matches Coogler’s moody, gritty vision of a brutal sport conducted by mostly honorable men trying to outwit each other.”
Through the shrubbery of intense training montages in the California desert and the flashy entrances to the boxing ring, Creed II is a film dedicated to portraying its main protagonist as a troubled soul determined to fulfill his legacy, a character most audience members can understand and even relate to. I recommend Creed II, not just for its great acting, superb editing and breathtaking cinematography, but for its desire to make its audience feel. Also, it used Icon by Jaden Smith and that song slaps.