‘Creed II’ Sequel Doesn’t Deliver Same Punch as Original Film

Dwight Brown

 

This is an excerpt from an article originally published in the Washington Informer. Read the rest here.

 

This follow-up to the very popular boxing film “Creed” (worldwide gross $174M) throws a lot of left hooks, right jabs and uppercuts, but only a few connect and none land a knockout punch. Count on the mass appeal (young, old, urban, male and female) of “Creed II” to put viewers in seats. But, will they enjoy what they see? Yes, somewhat, if patience is one of their virtues.

 

There’s a key difference between the first and the second chapters in this franchise. The exceptional director/writer Ryan Coogler (“Fruitvale Station,” “Black Panther”) left his imprint all over the first one: heavy emphasis on relationships, emotions, performances, pacing, and style. The second one is directed by Steven Caple Jr., whose resume is filled with short films and TV credits. His interpretation of Cheo Hodari Coker’s (TV’s “Southland” and Luke Cage) script has a similar feel, but not as organic or fresh.

 

Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) has finally become the Heavyweight Champion of the World. He’s got his significant other Bianca (Tessa Thompson), the singer/songwriter, by his side. The mentorship he received from his coach Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) is tight. Life is good on the outside, but something eats at him from within. It’s an insecurity that flares when a skeezy boxing promoter, Buddy Marcelle (Russell Hornsby, “Fences”), tempts Adonis into a fight with Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu, a German-Romanian boxer/actor), the son of boxer Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren, “Rocky IV”), the man who beat Adonis’s dad Apollo Creed to death.

 

The taunting that ensues gets into Adonis’s head, stirring up old thoughts he hoped he was over. With the press, Marcelle and the Dragos baiting him, the young boxer has some far-reaching choices to make that could make or break his career and test his bond with family and friends.

 

 

Audiences will wish that this fight film started with an explosion. It doesn’t. The footage rolls, the plot is disseminated and the mundane, everyday drama on view goes on for way too long. For a boxing movie, a lack of action is the kiss of death, and little of note arises until Act III.

 

The languid pacing (editors: Dana E. Glauberman, Saira Haider and Paul Harb) will leave audiences tapping their toes collectively and waiting for an adrenaline injection. The boxing choreography is unoriginal—never electric. The “Rocky”-themed music blares loudly to no avail. The visuals (cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau, “Game of Thrones”) lack the splendor DP Maryse Alberti (“The Wrestler”) brought to Creed. The exception would be a dazzling entry in to the final brawl, when a stunning lighting effect forms a triangle and the Creed team enters.

 

Cocker’s script is competent and respectful of all the characters, some of which have been around for over 40 years. That said, nothing in his screenplay takes the individuals’ storylines to a new place that’s worth a trip.

 

This is an excerpt from an article originally published in the Washington Informer. Read the rest here.

 

Dwight Brown, Special to the Washington Informer via NNPA  

 

Visit NNPA News Wire film critic Dwight Brown at DwightBrownInk.com and BlackPressUSA.com.

 

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