The first installment of Creed was an amazing revival of the Rocky franchise; abandoning the schlock of the past 30+ years and returning to the Oscar caliber production of the first installment.
Now the series turns to reprising the storyline of the most schlocky, jingoistic installment of the franchise: Rocky 4. Worlds collide!
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
After losing his big title fight in the original, the son of the late Apollo Creed, Adonis, takes the title and lives life as a champ.
Creed starts a life with Bianca, and begins to navigate the world of title boxing. Capitalizing on his fame, the dreaded villain of the 1985 film, Ivan Drago, pushes for a fight between his son, and the son of the man he killed in the ring.
Can Creed and his spiritual sherpa, Rocky Balboa, navigate a new Russian threat?
- The film explores consequences of the franchise. Rocky 4 is my favorite of the film’s, even though it is merely good, Reaganesque, dumb fun. But one theme from that movie has always been an echo of all the sequels: the beating that Drago gave him in their fight damaged his brain and ruined his life. That plot was deftly handled in this film when Rocky’s fear of all things Drago revolves around that damage. But more impressive was the impact to Ivan after the events of 1985. His life was forever changed by that national shaming, and the course of his life and the impact on his family is on display. Dolph Lundgren (Masters of the Universe) was surprisingly excellent. He was every bit the surprise in this movie that Sylvester Stallone (Weekend At Stud and Kitty’s) was in the first Creed. Every scene was painful and compelling.
- Good to see him in a smart role. Michael B Jordan was really solid in the role. He was smart, charismatic, and simmering with the clash of success and frustration. Nice to see him in a solid role this year…
- Rocky! Rocky! Rocky! He wasn’t quite the surprise in this film as he was the last, but man was he good. He is playing Rocky better now than he has since the 70s.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK:
- If you are going to be Rocky 4, be Rocky 4… It’s like mixing metaphors. Creed 2 tried to be arthouse Rocky 4 and that’s a tough nut to thread. The story tries to be sophisticated, but still pull in the flavor of the original source material. Sometimes that effort was too difficult to pull off and felt a little shaky.
- The plot is incredibly predictable. There were no surprises. It played out exactly as I expected and that points to a formulaic script and spells the end of my interest in the franchise as anything other than a fun-ish distraction.
- I was incredibly bored in the non-boxing scenes. There were large periods of time where I was checking my watch. The rest of the story did NOT feel right at all.
You really miss the direction of Ryan Coogler in this sequel. He produced it, but the product itself drops to “good but not great” status.
The big question I had after the film: who does Trump root for in the big fight?
Overall, I give Creed 2 a score of 8 “Eye of the Tigers” out of 10.