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Creed II Movie Review

A Sequel on the Ropes

Have the "Creed" movies learned nothing from the "Rocky" series? Sequels aren't always the answer. Sure, people will become invested and keep returning to see these characters but, at times, the "Rocky" sequels seem to be brought up more than the original 1976 movie. For a movie about the importance of legacy, "Creed II" should take notice.

It's simply a warning for the sequel franchise, which is only on its second movie. "Creed II," while harmless and sporadically engaging, isn't quite at the desultory level of later "Rocky" movies, but a perfunctory cloud does hang over it. The sequel to 2015's "Creed" felt inevitable, and that's the very feeling that plagues most of this movie.

Michael B. Jordan returns as Adonis Johnson, opening the film as the heavyweight champion, putting him on top of the world. The title gives him a brief moment of professional satisfaction, which allows him to focus on other aspects of his life. Having been with his girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson) for years, he is ready to propose to her, but not without the help of Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). There's a really nice moment early on between Adonis and Rocky, who is happy to coach him through something outside of the ring.

Things seem to be falling into place in his life until he is publically challenged by Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), the son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), which stirs up a great deal of emotion for Adonis and Rocky. Despite being advised otherwise, Adonis refuses to turn down the challenge.

The fight happens roughly one hour into the 130-minute movie, which makes it feel like most of the film was completed in that time. "Creed II" lingers for another hour plus, as Adonis tries to find meaning in his life outside of the ring.

Steven Caple Jr. takes over as director from Ryan Coogler (who stayed on as a producer) and helms the picture with uninspired efficiency. The boxing scenes are brutal and occasionally immersive but everything feels a bit flat, especially when placed against the original "Creed," which was beautifully captured by Coogler. What made "Creed" such a surprise was its elevated artistry surrounding the age-old boxing story. "Creed II" just feels like another bout.

Jordan and Stallone continue to have strong chemistry together, and somehow Stallone, in his monotone mumbles, can still make Rocky an effective character. If anything positive has come from having too many sequels to these movies, it's that we have been able to watch a character's full arc over 40-plus years.

"Creed II" tries to continue the theme of legacy but feels far too focused on bruised egos more than anything else. In that sense, it's not very interesting. Still, individual moments between the characters make the movie worth sitting on the sidelines for.


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