In Brief: Not even the always likable Rocky Balboa can save this one.
Creed II is an overworked premise that — itself — gets overworked. Or, to put it another way, Creed II is a film from a series of movies that started in 1976 and that have now become as punch drunk as the boxers who dot the landscape of the now way-too-many sequels.
Michael B. Jordan reprises the role of Rocky nemesis and later best friend, Apollo Creed’s son, Adonis. In the last film he failed to gain the heavyweight championship. This one starts with Creed winning the championship. Later comes the challenge from Ivan Drago’s son Viktor.
For those not knowing, the elder Drago killed Creed’s dad in Rocky IV. Adonis wants to avenge his father via defeating Drago’s kid. Or some such thing.
This one is a total soap opera.
Why? To start with, Creed II has six writers. You’ve never heard of four of them. The two you have are Sylvester Stallone and Ryan Coogler who directed the original. They wrote the screenplay. It has Stallone’s mark everywhere. The writing is overdone, the dialogue stiff and the story bloated. To float an image, imagine Muhammad Ali in his bum of the month club days. Fat, lazy and fighting for the money.
That’s this movie. It’s all about attracting Rocky fans. To use another boxing metaphor, it spends all its time leaning back on the ropes and hoping you won’t care because you love the champ and are rooting for him.
Trim the fat from 2:10 to about 1:45 and this might be a good movie. At the 2:10 length, it is not.
What makes Creed II, and Creed and all of the Rocky movies palatable is Rocky Balboa. Yes, the boxing stunts are terrific — and even fun — but it’s the lovable pug, Rocky who anchors the love we have of these films.
Other than the first film, Rocky, he’s the main reason I liked any of the sequels, Creed, and — alas — the main reason I even thought about seeing Creed II. The 2015 flick saw Stallone pick up a deserved best supporting actor Golden Globe and come close to grabbing a deserved Oscar. Stallone is about the only thing to like about “Creed II” and — for once — even he’s not that likable.
One last observation. Dolph Lundgren and Bridgette Nielsen. She doesn’t have much to do other than stare at the camera and he does a lot of grunting, snarling and staring. However, at ages 61 and 55 respectively, and like Stallone, they are in great shape and look pretty good.
If only this movie looked that good as well.
Director: Steven Caple Jr.
Stars: Micheal B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu, Brigitte Nielsen, Wood Harris
Rated PG-13 for mature themes and violence. The latest is the Rocky series — and don’t say it’s not — finds the series getting a bit punch drunk. Give this one a 2 1/2 on the Average Joe Movie o to 5 scale.
5 to 4 1/2: Must see on the big screen.
4 to 3 1/2: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 to 2 1/2: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 to 1: Don’t bother.
0:Speaks for itself.
Catch Gary Wolcott Friday afternoons at 4:50 on KXL’s Afternoon News.
Gary has been KXL’s movie critic since 2014. A lifelong fan of film, he’s been a film critic in radio, television and newspaper for 28-years. Wolcott catches a couple of hundred movies a year and he sees a great many of them so you don’t have to.
He is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.
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