I didn’t grow up a fan of the Rocky franchise, and I’m late to come into its sequel series Creed. I had never even watched a boxing film before, in fact, Creed II was my introduction to the genre. I can gladly say I am a new fan of this fantastic film. Creed 2 is an accessible sports drama with great characterization, story, and action.
In particular, the cinematography during the fight scenes is riveting and stunning. The filmmakers took special care to place the audience both in the middle of the fight and to give them sweeping views of the fighters’ surroundings. The fights scenes have a deft style and pacing that rank them in the best action sequences of the year. The audience I sat with roared at each punch and each strike. You would think we were in the audience actually surrounding the boxing ring.
Even outside of the fights, the cinematography in this film is stunning. It seems as though every single scene was shot with the intention of making pure visual art. Even the most typically mundane shots are beautiful. The cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau and the director Steven Caple Jr. took such incredible care in shooting this film. They’ve created something truly unique in this film that all audiences should see and revere.
Besides the action and training scenes, it’s the characters who really get to shine in this sports drama. Michael B. Jordan is an emotional powerhouse in his second outing as Adonis Creed. Despite already become the World Champion, Adonis has to face new personal and professional struggles.
Family and legacy weigh heavily on him as he tries to figure out how to position himself as a global icon. He gained worldwide reverence in the first film but effectively doesn’t know what to do with it. When presented with a new rival, he has to figure that out. The journey there plays in some ways you would expect but is presented incredibly well by Jordan and the director.
Tessa Thompson reprises her role as Bianca, Adonis’ love interest. Her role is mostly one of support, but she gets her moments to shine in the film as well. Thompson deftly gets the audience to know Bianca better, as we get more insight into her hearing disability. The chemistry between Thompson and Jordan feels genuine, and the actors present an authentic relationship. They have normal struggles that couples and families deal with on the daily, but with the pressure of a worldwide audience bearing down on them as well.
Sylvester Stallone is a delight to watch in his latest outing as Rocky Balboa. It’s as much as you’re going to get from a Stallone performance, but he sells it well. His plot also aligns with the family theme, as he is forced to confront issues from his past and work on his present relationship with Adonis. Stallone balances the role with humor and heart, giving longtime fans of the franchise a good continuation of his story and new fans intrigued to what this seasoned fighter has undergone.
Creed 2 sees the return of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), Rocky’s foe from Rocky IV, who wants revenge for, as he believes, Rocky ruining his life and career. Joining him is his son Viktor (Florian Munteanu), who has followed in his father’s footsteps, as a boxer, and challenges Adonis’ world champion title. The performances run the risk of going over the top, but thankfully rarely do. The plot definitely seems comically stereotypical at first, but it thankfully doesn’t get over the top either.
The anger Ivan and Viktor have about their situation also feels real and genuine, letting the audience find them sympathetic while also recognizing how deeply they’re in the wrong. Overall, they present a compelling conflict for Adonis and Rocky with the right level of spectacular villainy for the film.
Creed 2 is an overall blast. With well-defined characters, thrilling action, and stunning cinematography, audiences will be treated to a dramatically compelling and fun time in the theater.
Creed II is an overall blast. With well-defined characters, thrilling action, and stunning cinematography, audiences will be treated to a dramatically compelling and fun time in the theater.