It is with pleasure to review and analyse arguably the greatest film franchise of all time. It cannot be denied that Creed derives from the Rocky Balboa films and indeed the latter two instalments are worthy films. Stallone has ostensibly handed the reigns to Michael B. Jordan to engage in full throttle action and the audience embrace Balboa’s elderly years, as it would be unrealistic for his ageing character to partake in any action as he must step down to guide his apprentice rather than engage in battle. There are many strengths in ‘Creed II,’ and minor flaws, however it is possible those flaws will mature like red wine and in later years be honed to appreciation.
Under the expert hand of Rocky Balboa, light heavyweight contender Adonis Creed faces off against Viktor Drago, son of Ivan Drago. Already this is an excellent premise especially if ‘Rocky IV’ is your favourite instalment and it is certainly the best, from a subjective point of view. Pure nostalgia is provided by Dolph Lundren’s Ivan Drago, as he walks in to Rocky’s restaurant ‘Adrian’s’. To see these two characters spar dialogue of each other is intense. The history behind these two is what makes this scene captivating. He simply challenges Balboa’s apprentice to fight his son Viktor Drago played brilliantly by the big and nasty Florean Munteanu.
The main strength of the film is character development. We understand Ivan Drago’s motives and reasons for challenging Balboa. The fact that he lost everything, I.E. His reputation, his wife and mother to Viktor has put a major strain on his life. Ivan has groomed his son and raised him in a world of hate and now that he is ready, this is his one chance to earn his reputation back as one of Russia’s greatest sportsmen by using his offspring.
Obviously there would be no film if Creed refused, hence as he accepts, Balboa’s reluctance to be involved due to Viktor’s speed, strength and stamina is too much of a dangerous threat to face. We begin to understand Rocky’s reasons, as he lives with the guilt of Adonis’ father dying in his arms. The regret of not ‘throwing in the towel’ is something he cannot live with. When Adonis Creed trains at first without Rocky, this will lead to the first fight with Viktor to catastrophic events like Clubber Lang fought Rocky in Rocky III. The fight is brutal and barbaric. To hear the sound effects of ribs cracking through Drago’s hard punches is a painful process to watch. The result is obvious with an interesting twist. The second fight is where Balboa steps in through guilt and trains Adonis in preparation for the rematch.
Like Rocky IV, the training montage is excellent but contrasting in environment and yet we are in awe to watch Adonis recover, and engage in gruelling desert heat and exercise through hard core training like Rocky did in Snowy Russia. The drama of the film is the second major strength. Family is a pivotal element we can all relate to. Adonis is now married to Bianca played by Tessa Thompson wonderfully. Once again, these two characters have developed beautifully from the first Creed. She is now dependent on a hearing aid and when they have their daughter, the drama of their baby having her mother’s hereditary deafness is sad to watch but beautiful as they don’t give up. They love their daughter no matter what and will do what it takes to overcome the obstacles. It’s almost akin to Adonis’ obstacles to beat Viktor Drago. Without obstacles, without challenges, would there be any point in life?
The structure of the film is also excellent. Everything is planned perfectly like a John Steinbeck novel. Balboa’s guilt of not throwing in the towel for Apollo Creed, leads to an interesting and also controversial ending. Without plot spoilers, the cameos of previous characters are also excellent as the pure nostalgia of the prior films are to die for. The minor criticism is the dialogue of Rocky Balboa is not as noticeable by Stallone like in previous films. Quotes like, “eye of the tiger,” “I’m like an angel on your shoulder” and the best one, “It’s not about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward,” is somewhat absent. Rocky is the most inspiring man in film history and the absence of his motivational quotes is what lacks a perfect rating. Perhaps on a first view, it was not noticed and as stated, in time the film will grow and the dialogue will be more noticed.
Overall Creed II is a near perfect film that must be watched by Rocky and Creed fans. It’s a great addition to see how the characters have progressed and progress further in future films. The overall message is not to avenge a parent’s death, but it’s about proving to yourself you can overcome something whatever that may be. Sometimes you don’t realise your own strength until you come face to face with your greatest weakness. Adonis Creed will do that with Viktor Drago. This leaves us to ponder, what must we come face to face with if we are to reach our full potential?
Aly Lalji | [rating=4]
Sports, Drama | USA, 2018 | 12A | 30th November 2018 (UK) |Warner Bros. UK | Dir.Steven Caple Jr | Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu