Plot: What’s it about?
I did enjoy Creed even if I wasn’t expecting to. I felt that the Rocky films had run their course and said they had to say. Rocky Balboa was a surprisingly enjoyable film to me that had its heart in the right place, but the powers that be felt there was more life left and gave us Creed. It’s certainly a unique choice to feature the son of one of Rocky’s old rivals be the star of these new films. While I ultimately view Creed II as a solid film, it’s not quite the home run one might expect. On the other hand, I do feel it’s about as good as a film like this can be. With 6 Rocky films and now this coming a few years after Creed, I just don’t know what else there is to do. Still, it’s certainly an overall enjoyable film that at least warrants a rental.
We find our hero Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordon) some three years after the events of the first film. He’s still with his girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson) who becomes Creed’s fiancé in the film. Bianca wants to leave Philadelphia and start a new life in Los Angeles, but Adonis is more hesitant. Switching gears, we see that Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren, last seen in Rocky IV) wants Adonis to fight his son. While Adonis accepts, he enlists Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) to help with the training, but he surprisingly refuses. Adonis decides to continue on and trains without Rocky. While the basic formula is set in motion, there are a few surprises to Creed II that I feel best to leave out. Creed does face off against Drago’s son, but there are other obstacles in the way beforehand, even one earlier in the film that might take some viewers by surprise.
Creed II does get a lot of things right, but it can’t help but show things wearing a bit thin by this point. I enjoyed it overall, and it has some genuine moments, but also has serious pacing issues. A big chunk in the middle stretch stalls things a bit more than it should. I enjoyed that it took a few unexpected paths, but the cracks in this well-worn formula are starting to show a bit. I’m unsure if there will be another film, but I really don’t see where else there is to go with these films at this point. Still, that’s not my job to figure out and time will tell. I feel the film has just enough going for it to check out, even if it has some minor flaws as well.
Video: How’s it look?
If you’ve ever seen any boxing film, or more to the point, a Rocky movie then you’ll know what to expect here. Warner’s 2.40:1 HEVC 4K image look stunning and when compared to its Blu-ray counterpart, makes it a no-brainer to go for the 4K version. Darkness prevails in a majority of the scenes and having never been to a boxing match, only have to go what I’ve seen from the films. Creed II, of course, is a new to the format film and takes advantage of the increased resolution and HDR that the 4K image offers. Detail, colors and contrast all looked great to me. It’s not a perfect transfer, but with a fast-moving film like this, any faults I encountered were a thing of the past soon thereafter.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Again, looking back on the Rocky films and even the first Creed, it’s a wonderful thing when a top-notch Dolby Atmos track is included. This franchise has always had a way of making a boxing match feel like a battle in World War II. The thud of the glove hitting the skin – it’s amazing. Vocals, naturally, sound terrific, though Stallone (even when he’s not in Rocky persona) is getting more and more difficult to understand in his later years. Couple that with Drago and we get a nice, rich sound, but when it comes to comprehension, well…That aside, it’s one of Warner’s better-sounding discs and viewers will certainly not be disappointed.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Fathers and Sons – As the title entails, we get some input from some of the major players of the film and the relationship between a father and son, especially how that translates to the boxing ring.
- Casting Viktor Drago – Again, the title would dictate what the content is and this explores the search for the perfect actor to play Ivan Drago’s (Dolph Lundgren) son. It turns out that was Florian Munteanu, and we get some input on his initial audition to him landing the part.
- The Woman of Creed II – Anyone who’s seen any of the Rocky films knows that the main role of the female is to sit and worry. While it’s a bit different with Creed II, we get some input from Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad as they comment on their respective characters.
- Deleted Scenes – Four total, with none of them offering much in the terms of content. Given the film’s already bloated running time of 130 minutes, these were wisely cut for time and pacing.
- Rocky’s Eulogy for Spider Rico
- Max’s Cheesesteak Restaurant
- Rocky Trains Kids
- Locker Room
- Rocky’s Legacy – If you want a crash course in the four decade old Rocky franchise, this is about as good as you’ll find. Think of it as an extended trailer – for seven movies. Of note, it’s hosted by Dolph Lundgren, which is nice.
The Bottom Line
Creed II falls somewhere in the middle of all these films when looking at the big picture. I felt the first film was better and had better pacing. Still, the performances are all fine and it has its heart in the right place. Some viewers might be surprised by how little Rocky has to do here, but it also avoids repeating itself too often. A rental is advised.