This movie’s greatest triumph is that, despite the seven prior Rocky and Creed movies, Creed II manages to feel fresh. The story mirrors Rocky IV in a way that feels natural and takes the characters in new and interesting directions. Unlike many sequels, Adonis Creed is the same person as when we last saw him. Too often the main character forgets the lessons learned in the previous movie and returns to square one. This is a lazy way to write a movie. Creed has not forgotten the morals and training from the first film, he is dealing with new events that test his physical and emotional strength even further. Seeing Creed deal with marriage, loyalty, legacy, death, and the newfound responsibility and purpose of being a father is what sets this movie apart from the first Creed and any of the Rocky films.
The plot of Creed II isn’t anything special. The main plot is nearly identical to Rocky IV. This doesn’t feel lazy while watching the movie, (the characters even mention how similar it is in the movie itself) but I imagine that it made the movie pretty easy to write. However, Creed II shares only its story with Rocky IV. The tone, character development, music, and directing are completely different. They make the ‘antagonist’ surprisingly sympathetic, and I found myself torn on who should win the final fight.
After Creed I’s success, director Ryan Coogler left Creed II to direct Black Panther. (Also starring Micheal B Jordan.) Newcomer Steven Caple Jr. took the reins, and he does so impressively well. While there isn’t anything on the level of the one-shot boxing match in the first film, Creed II feels just as artistic and Caple makes sure that you feel every punch.
While Creed II won’t blow you away, it delivers an emotional and intense ride that belongs in the hall of fame of sports movies. I can’t wait to see where they bring the story next.