Director: Steven Caple Jr.
Release Date: November 21, 2018
After suppressing a truly concerning barrage of homoerotic thoughts brought on by Michael B. Jordan, you’ll find that the second installment of “Black Rocky” is little more than a fan-fiction homage to Rocky IV.
Reboots and sequels after decades of layoff time are difficult to pull-off. When you incorporate iconic role reprisals by aging actors, the results can be disastrous. More often than not, the finished product doesn’t live up to the hopes of the fan-base and you’re forced to learn that Luke Skywalker turned into a bitch over the last 30 years while no one was looking. The Rocky saga has been the exception to the rule.
Rocky Balboa and Creed, which came out decades after their predecessors, both overhaul the look and style of the Rocky saga without losing the Rocky charm. Sylvester Stallone ages gracefully with the Rocky Balboa character and the films both feel fresh, rather than feeling like the sixth and seventh installment of the same Rocky movie. Unfortunately here, Creed II feels like Rocky VIII, essentially a Rocky IV sequel with nothing new to offer.
In Creed II, Adonis Creed looks to even the score with Ivan Drago, who permanently knocked out his father, Apollo Creed, in a Rocky IV exhibition fight. Creed looks to change the narrative by defeating Ivan Drago’s son, Viktor Drago. The Dragos, whose name has fallen to shame in their native Russia, attempt to re-gain the prestige that was lost after Ivan Drago was defeated by Rocky in Rocky IV. As Rocky’s role continues to become diminished in the saga, Adonis Creed’s character continues to develop as he’s forced to deal with new life challenges.
The movie’s downfall is its failure to stray from the format of previous Rocky films, especially the original five movies. It’s an endless string of callbacks to Rocky IV and if you’re not well-acquainted with the movie that came out more than 30 years prior, you’re going to be lost at a lot of moments. Rocky Balboa and Creed both bring a refreshing amount of originality to the Rocky saga; Creed II brings none. Creed II is predictable, almost to the moment. If you’re a long-time follower of the franchise, there are no surprises.
The more Rocky’s role decreases in this series, the more you realize that this same old story doesn’t work nearly as well without him being the central character. Rocky, no surprise, is the heart and soul of Rocky. Rocky is down to earth, simple. Creed is brash and arrogant. The decision to give Adonis Creed different dimensions than Rocky is a good one if you want to keep the series fresh, but its all for naught if you’re going to use him as a stand-in in carbon-copy sequels.
When Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Black Panther) stepped down as writer and director of the Creed series, all the originality seems to have gone with him. Going forward, the Creed franchise is going to have to dig deep and tell new stories if its going to remain of interest.
If you’re a Rocky fan looking for a straight-forward Rocky movie, this will do the job. It does a poor job as a stand-alone film. There’s cool boxing shit and Michael B. Jordan will make you question your sexuality but at the end of the day this movie is meant to be nothing more than a satisfying “what if” story for long-time fans of the Rocky series.