26th Nov2018

‘Creed II’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu, Russell Hornsby, Wood Harris, Milo Ventimiglia, Robbie Johns, Andre Ward, Brigitte Nielsen | Written by Sylvester Stallone, Cheo Hodari Coker | Directed by Steven Caple Jr.

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Steven Caple Jr.’s Creed II, the long-anticipated follow-up to Ryan Coogler’s 2015 film Creed, itself a spin-off of the Sylvester Stallone Rocky franchise, is quite simply put – gold dust. Caple Jr., taking the reigns from innovative and visionary director Ryan Coogler, is no easy task, even if the material in front of him writes itself – with Stallone heading the script with Cheo Hodari Coker, and Michael B. Jordan putting forward a stunning turn as Adonis Creed. Establishing his own visual style and direction, while honouring the existing aesthetic and thematic margin is no mean feat to simply dismiss.

Creed II achieves the rare success that has escaped many of its contemporaries and predecessors before it, in the notion of a balanced sequel. A film that honours, homages or continues a story while holding its own with fresh, expressive desire for evolution but remains content and simplistic in the tradition that made the formula work. If ever a definition goes amiss without an example, Creed II undoubtedly holds the definition of such an achievement. The thematic evolution feels natural, raw and human, while developing and throwing in all manners of life that hits and slows anything down on its path of fate and destiny. Character arcs take a natural step forward, never backwards, even when the chance for regression and re-growth is by far the easiest way forward. Instead, the film trajectory follows that of inexplicable and jarring fashion of fate and destiny. An intertwined almost malevolent approach that makes the spectacle of Creed vs Drago all the more endearing and aggressive due to the sheer unknown it holds at the tip of its fingertips.

Writers Stallone and Hodari Coker do a wonderful job of creating a realistic and genuine world on screen. A world that revolves around emotional retorts of hate and love. A Ying-and-Yang resolution of sorts, with the triumphant good must come the nightmarish bad. Thus creating moments of peril that engage both levels of casual audience and four-decade dependent fans no matter the longevity of such a label. The writing is raw and energetic. It fumbles its way through the approach of tenderness and love, albeit in a direct and often enough simplistic delivery but it evokes the sense of love and family. The ground on which Creed II stands. It is this element of Viktor Drago, son of Rocky nemesis Ivan Drago, played by Florian Munteanu and Dolph Lundgren respectively. Muntean is nothing short of captivating in a role that haunts and entails such inescapable darkness, yet shocking to such a character, small doses of hope. The screen presence is shocking and formidable, filling the screen with such a gigantic form it is remotely questionable that Adonis could scrape anything in a fight that will define not only their own generation but that of their father before them.

The supporting cast offers a glimmering sprinkle of added tension and theatrics to the already dramatic nature of a film crammed with a flair noted in the work of Shakespeare. Stallone’s Balboa takes a back seat to proceedings… Considering his spectacular Academy Award-nominated performance in the predecessor it is somewhat surprising, as he’s relegated to fourth or even fifth supporting player. However, this is provocative of the approach attributed to the film which is all meat with very little, if at all, any fat. Every scene adds to the overall impact of what it sets out to achieve in entertainment and delegation to the characters it clearly beloves.

Creed II is released in UK cinemas this Friday, November 30th.

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