Michael B. Jordan in Creed II (Photo: MGM)

★★½ (out of four)
DIRECTED BY Steven Caple Jr.
STARS Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone

The release of Creed three Thanksgivings ago allowed me to role-play as The Grinch throughout the 2015 holiday season, as my mixed review was in contrast to the sizable box office it enjoyed from audiences and rave reviews it garnered from most other critics. As I wrote at the time, “What’s disappointing about Creed is how slavishly it follows the template of the previous pictures. It’s certainly not bad — it’s the best entry since 1982’s Rocky III — but aside from the character shift, there’s nothing here that’s especially original, and one’s enjoyment depends entirely on how charitable one is feeling in the nostalgia department.”

That statement — and sentiment — can be equally applied to Creed II, which, like its predecessor, is enjoyable in fits and starts. The best aspects of the first Creed remain the selling points here — namely, the performances by Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone. Jordan again excels as Adonis Creed, the son of the legendary boxer Apollo Creed and the current heavyweight champion of the world. And while Stallone, whose two Oscar nominations as an actor were for the original Rocky and the original Creed, isn’t given quite as much to do here, he’s still wonderful in the role. Garrulous of mind and generous of heart, Rocky Balboa remains a rich and complex character, and even his demotion from series focus to supporting player has done nothing to quell his all-embracing humanity.

Given the fact that the Rocky / Creed franchise has always feasted on the past, the hook this time isn’t exactly unexpected. Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), the Russian boxer who killed Apollo Creed in the ring before being vanquished by Rocky (see 1985’s Rocky IV), now has a son, Viktor (played by boxer Florian “Big Nasty” Munteanu), who’s carrying on his father’s personal vendetta against Rocky and the Creeds. It’s arranged for Adonis and Viktor to square off, with more than just a championship on the line. For both men, it’s a chance to right perceived wrongs from the past while serving up a side dish of revenge. Adonis is torn between following this path or taking the sage advice of his wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and mother Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad). Viktor just grunts a lot in preparation. As for Rocky, who was ringside when Apollo was killed, he has to decide whether or not to similarly coach Adonis in what might prove to be a death match.

Sylvester Stallone in Creed II (Photo: MGM)

It’s irresistible material — or at least it would be if the film ever bothered to offer any narrative surprises or unexpected character beats. Instead, it’s once again played at a safe level, as director Steven Caple Jr. (replacing Creed writer-director Ryan Coogler, who moved on to Black Panther) and the quartet of writers (including Stallone) are fearful of damaging this enduring tentpole. When the most emotional instance in the entire picture occurs as Bill Conti’s magnificent signature score from the first Rocky finally finds its way onto the soundtrack, it’s clear we’re responding in a Pavlovian manner to the music rather than the moment.

That’s not too say Caple (helming only his second feature) botches the assignment, as there’s enough to enjoy to earn the film a modest recommendation. Even given their predictability, the fight sequences are effectively staged, and the training montages are also handled well. Still, what’s most interesting about Creed II is its correlation with Rocky IV. That earlier film is utterly daft, but it’s also a perfect snapshot of the Reagan ‘80s, as audiences cheered as all-American Rocky took down the dreaded Commies — the film even ended with the Russkies themselves (both the commoners and the politicians) cheering for Rocky! Creed II offers comparable scenes, but the sociopolitical sheen has worn off and perhaps even switched sides. After all, in the current arena, there are many US citizens (to say nothing of a racist president) who would relish the sight of a white Russian beating up a black American — a ghastly realization that would have been unimaginable in just about any other era.



      Rishi Batra

      Also goes by Richie Batra, Richard Batra, and most recently Dickie Batra

      Beware of this buyer. Tracking number with a signature request shows the item delivered and signed for. Buyer pretended that he didn’t receive the item and threatened to leave negative feedback if you don’t issue a refund. Looking at his feedback history left for sellers, it seems be the common practice for him. Stay away!


      Buyer abused and misused eBay’s Buying Practices policy by opening a return request and intentionally returned the wrong item back to the seller.

      In addition, buyer’s feedback history left for sellers are all Negative and Neutral with one revised feedback calling one of the sellers “illiterate”. Clearly, the buyer has no intention of leaving positive feedback unless you refund him in full.

      If you have been defrauded/scammed by this buyer, please report him to the local law enforcement: Hettinger County Sheriff’s Office – PHONE: 701-824-2935.

    • Holy crap, it’s little Dickie Batra! I know this dipshit! He worships Trump, hates anyone who isn’t like him (in other words, a white, cowardly, bigoted male), and has less brains than a pile of dog doo. If you look up LOSER in the dictionary, that’s his ugly picture next to the word. And that eBay stuff doesn’t surprise me — he’s always been a cheat and a crook and a deadbeat. A waste of space and air, really.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s