“Creed II” Surpasses Expectations, Doesn’t Disappoint

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“Creed II” Surpasses Expectations, Doesn’t Disappoint

"Creed II" is the eighth film in the Rocky franchise.

Lara Garay

"Creed II" is the eighth film in the Rocky franchise.

Lara Garay

Lara Garay

"Creed II" is the eighth film in the Rocky franchise.

Cameron Moody, Contributing Writer

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Falcon Rating: 5/5

The much-anticipated continuation of the Rocky/Creed franchise has finally arrived and I can honestly say that it did not disappoint. As the eighth film in the 40-year-old franchise, Creed II builds upon the characters and stories of the older films in a way that we haven’t seen before. It tells the story of Adonis Creed, the illegitimate son of former heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, who was killed in the ring by Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.

This film is very much a revenge tale, as the main plot arc is that Creed will face Victor Drago, Ivan’s son. In typical Rocky fashion, Adonis endures many physical, mental, and emotional hardships on a quest to avenge his father’s legacy.

As much as this film is about Creed versus Drago, there is also an equally important conflict between Creed and Rocky. As seen in previous films, Rocky has always been haunted by his controversial decision not to throw in the towel, which may have prevented Apollo’s death. Recognizing the potential for a dangerous outcome, Rocky’s inhibition manifests when trying to dissuade Adonis from taking the fight. Ultimately, with Rocky and Creed finally setting their differences aside and teaming up, the long-awaited fight ends up happening.

One of my favorite aspects of this film was its strong character development. Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) and Bianca Taylor (Tessa Thompson) really illustrate the emotional toll that boxing can have on a budding family. The emotion and conviction with which Jordan and Thompson deliver their intimate and intense moments made me feel as though I was in the same room as them. I was able to suspend the sense that I was watching a movie; I felt like it was reality.

The legendary Sylvester Stallone did not cease to amaze me with his portrayal of the former champion Rocky Balboa. The sense of sadness and loss that surrounds him made it very easy to sympathize with his character. On the opposite end was Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren)—the man responsible for Apollo’s death—and his son, Victor (Florian Munteanu). They provided a perfect mix of intimidation, empathy, and rage, leaving a lasting impression on me as I left the theater.

From a technical standpoint, first-time director Steven Caple Jr. did an amazing job. Ryan Coogler, the director of Creed I, really set the precedent for how these movies should feel, and Caple carried the baton with ease. The fight sequences were a fantastic mix of brutality, technicality, and the occasional slow-motion power shot. The music, by Swedish composer Ludwig Goransson—also responsible for the scores to Creed I and Black Panther—delivered a tapestry of emotion through his distinctive use of the orchestra. The classic Rocky theme was one that not only had me cheering in the theater, but humming and shadow boxing as I left.

Overall, this was a very well-rounded film. Every shot was calculated to deliver the emotional punch that would best serve the story. Unlike most sequels, this film was a purposeful addition to the franchise and one that I had been excited for since the release of its predecessor. It is equally as good, if not slightly better, than the first film, and I will definitely be seeing it again before it exits cinemas.

 

This piece also appears in our December 2018 print edition.