Creed II

by Derek Deskins

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday March 7, 2019

Creed II

The "Rocky" film franchise is something kind of miraculous. What began as a Best Picture Oscar winner transformed into something else entirely, eventually evolving into a piece of Americana so iconic that the city of Philadelphia has a statue of the eponymous main character. And while the film's many sequels may not have fared as well as their originator critically, they were all revered in my household (except for "Rocky V" - we pretend like that one never happened). It is with this deference for the franchise that I approached "Creed II," and left the theater fully satisfied.

Three years after the events of "Creed," Adonis Creed has continued to prove himself in the boxing world. A series of victories in the ring culminates with him defeating Danny "Stuntman" Wheeler and assuming his destined place as the World Heavyweight Champion. While Creed has been climbing the ranks, Viktor Drago has been training in Ukraine. Viktor, the son of Ivan Drago, the villain of "Rocky IV," has his eyes set on revenge. With the help of promotor Buddy Marcelle, the Dragos make a public declaration to defeat Creed.

While the lead character may have changed, it is impossible to divorce "Creed" from "Rocky." While Ryan Coogler's reinvigoration of the franchise felt impressive and new, it also was something of a retelling of "Rocky." In this way, "Creed II" cannot escape "Rocky IV." While the connection may limit the heights that "Creed II" is able to reach, it does not keep it from being a satisfying film. Director Steven Caple Jr. has a reverence for the original franchise that is hard to deny, and yet he isn't content to simply rest on his predecessor's laurels.

The film's basic structure is nearly identical to "Rocky IV," but there are some areas where it asserts itself as something different. Perhaps most impressive is its treatment of the Drago family and their story. Outside of the first two films, the majority of the "Rocky" films possess one-note villains. The "bad guy" is drawn broadly and without nuance, existing to be triumphed over by our "hero" and little else. Yet "Creed II" decides to give depth to both Ivan and Viktor in a way that is interesting and actually adds to the film's emotional ending. Where the "Rocky" films were often about a man's triumph of self, the "Creed" films are much more tied to the idea of fatherhood and family. On the surface, "Creed II" may appear to be a little more than a less patriotically-driven take on "Rocky IV," but when plumbed deeper it is about the role of fathers and how they can affect future generations. It is this extra bit of depth that makes "Creed II" worthwhile beyond simply a sense of nostalgia.

While "Creed II" is exceptionally satisfying (especially for fans of the franchise), the Blu-ray release is less so. There are a handful of deleted scenes that are interesting if adding little, and four short featurettes. The featurettes are mostly under ten minutes each and are as perfunctory as they come. For lovers of "Rocky," "Rocky's Legacy" is likely the largest draw (and the longest of the included featurettes) but even that isn't anything all that special. Although the Blu-ray release doesn't boast anything that you'll be itching to watch, "Creed II" still feels like a solid and appropriate addition to the Rocky franchise.

"Creed II"

Blu-ray + DVD + Digital



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