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Movie Review: “Creed II”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 11/21/2018

Theatrical Release: 11/21/2018

Synopsis

Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) has become world champion. He is at the prime of his career, but he achieved the title by beating a champion who was not at the prime of his. Thus, Adonis does not feel entirely deserving of the title. Not long after winning the championship, a Russian boxer named of Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu) comes forward, challenging Adonis for the championship.

Viktor is massive, he is powerful, and he is a skilled boxer, but he is much more than just a formidable opponent for Adonis. Viktor is the son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), the boxer responsible for killing Adonis’ father in a boxing match decades earlier. This is a very personal match for Adonis, who seeks to redeem his family name by defeating the son of his father’s killer. Unfortunately, mentor Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) cannot support Adonis taking on this challenge, so Adonis may have to go into this fight without the boxing legend in his corner.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Creed & Drago (+10pts)

Predictable & The Second Act (-6pts)

The Cast (+8pts)

Training (-5pts)

The Boxing (+6pts)

Bianca (-2pts)

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Pro: Creed & Drago (+10pts)

I really enjoyed the storyline and the tension between Adonis Creed and Viktor Drago. They were both the sons of iconic boxers, but their fathers had very different reputations. I liked seeing how Ivan’s loss to Rocky impacted his life and I enjoyed seeing Viktor’s drive toward redeeming his family name. Adonis also wanted to redeem his family name. While his father was well respected, Adonis’ family name was stained by the tragedy that befell his father at the hands of Ivan Drago.

Both characters were on a path of redemption, both characters wanted to make a name for themselves, and both characters wanted to make their fathers proud. Adonis was the obvious protagonist, and he was the obvious underdog—because of the size difference between him and his opponent—but the filmmakers did a great job of blurring the line between protagonist and antagonist. There were scenes where I was rooting for Adonis, and there were scenes where I thought Adonis was either cocky or a jerk, which made me root for Viktor. I liked how similar their stories were, I liked how personal their feud was, and I liked how the filmmakers blurred the line between good guy and bad guy, as it made this story a lot more interesting.

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Con: Predictable & The Second Act (-6pts)

There have been seven movies in this boxing movie franchise alone, so the filmmakers need to start doing more with these stories if they want to keep things interesting. Unfortunately, I did not think they did that with this movie, as I thought it was too easy to see where this movie was going. As soon as I learned that the match between Adonis Creed and Viktor Drago would take place at the end of the first act of this story, it was way too easy to predict how the rest of the story would play out. It then went exactly as I expected, but it also slowed way down at the beginning of the second act. I want to avoid spoilers, so I do not want to get into the details of what was actually happening, but the story was pretty predictable and it got kind of slow and boring in the second act. The movie started really strong, but it lost a lot of momentum at the beginning of the second act, and the predictability of the overall story meant it never quite got back to how strong it was in the beginning.

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Pro: The Cast (+8pts)

There really was not a single weak link in this cast. Everyone, from Michael B. Jordan to Florian Munteanu, gave strong performances in this movie. The movie focused on the death of Apollo Creed, and what impact that had on Adonis and Rocky. The movie also focused on Ivan Drago’s loss to Rocky, and what impact that had on the lives of Ivan and Viktor. Even Bianca (Tessa Thompson) dealt with a lot. There was a lot of heavy material in this movie, and each of the actors did a great job in their respective roles. Adonis obviously got the most focus, so Michael B. Jordan deserves a lot of praise for carrying the emotion of this story, but every actor played their respective parts well.

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Con: Training (-5pts)

I thought the training sequence was missing something. It did not feel all that inspiring, and after it was over, I did not feel like Adonis was any more prepared than he was beforehand. I liked the location, but it felt like the filmmakers rushed through this section of the movie. It was as if the filmmakers knew that the movie was long already, so they tried to get through the training sequence as fast as possible, and did not really care if the training sequence achieved the desired effect.

The problem with this was that Adonis’ performance in the final fight felt unjustified. It did not feel like Adonis overcame anything, but he was somewhat miraculously more prepared than he was before. I get that we have had seven movies already in this franchise, and we have seen our share of training sequence, but this was a weird section of the movie to breeze through. With the second act being as drawn out and uneventful as it was, the filmmakers really should have trimmed down other sections and spent more time on the training sequence to show Adonis’ growth and to make the climax of the movie feel earned.

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Pro: The Boxing (+6pts)

The boxing in this movie was suspenseful, even though I had a pretty good idea how the matches would go. Viktor Drago had an intimidating presence due to how much larger he was than Adonis Creed. With that in mind, each hit that Viktor landed felt heavy and felt powerful. Adonis had to endure a lot of damage, while having to inflict as much as possible to someone much larger than him. Every hit felt brutal, which made the final match feel like an all out war. The intensity increased with every round, even though it was pretty easy to see who would win, the matches between Viktor and Adonis still kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time.

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Con: Bianca (-2pts)

I thought Bianca's musical career was pointless and underdeveloped in the first movie, and it was worse here. She was a supporting character in Adonis Creed’s story, so why so did we need to see so much of her musical career? I certainly do not care about it at all, and I do not think I am alone there, as I doubt anyone was going to watch this movie hoping to see a story about someone's rising musical career. It was made even worse by the fact that the music is not even good.

You know when you see a bad painting, but people defend it by saying it is "art"? That was what Bianca’s music made me think of. The music was not good, but characters kept treating it like it was some sort of artistic masterpiece. It just felt like the filmmakers were trying to force the character into doing something other than just sitting at home, but she had no natural role in Adonis' story, so they just forced one in here, and I did not think it worked. Her whole musical story just felt like a waste of screentime, and that time could have been spent on more relevant characters and more compelling stories.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: B+ (86pts)

I liked Creed II, but it definitely was not great. We have seen this story countless times before, and countless times in this very franchise, so the movie was very predictable. If the filmmakers want to make more of these movies, they really need to start switching up the format, as it was just too easy to see where this story was headed. This was then mixed with an unnecessary musical career storyline from a side character who hardly got any focus, a lackluster training montage, and a slow second act. The result was a cookie-cutter boxing movie, but it certainly had its redeeming qualities.

Every single member of the cast gave strong performances. There was a lot of heavy material to go around, and there simply was not a single weak link in the chain that was the cast. The mirrored story arcs between Adonis Creed and Viktor Drago was compelling, and the boxing matches were hard-hitting and intense. It was far from a perfect movie, but it was pretty good and it had me mostly entertained while it was on, aside from the few slower sections in the second act.

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