V Goes the Distance with CREED II!!!
Sylvester Stallone really set the gold standard on what courage meant with the first "Rocky". Maybe not the courage you might see in "The Longest Day" or "Saving Private Ryan"; not even the kind of courage you could find in a million Marvel films. Rocky Balboa showed a deep human courage to which we could all relate and aspire. That is a high bar. Yet Stallone managed to keep the bar pretty high but lower just a bit with each subsequent film. Then "Rocky V" hit the theaters and the franchise hit the canvas and stayed there for 16 years. With "Rocky Balboa" and "Creed" the franchise was firmly back on their feet. There may have been a beat or two stolen from the previous films, but these were new modern-day classics none the less.
I try to be chill on the history lessons for the most part, but this is pretty essential to reviewing this film. Especially when I am going to keep it as spoiler free as I can. Make of that what you will.
Ryan Coogler created a modern-day classic when he created "Creed". Although the film had to be somewhat beholden to the franchise roots, most importantly the Balboa/Creed relationship, it set a new tone for the future of the mythology laid out through the previous six films. Coogler was just never beholden to them. The film followed Adonis Creed, the son of the former Heavyweight Champ, Rocky Balboa nemesis/friend and showboat extraordinaire, Apollo Creed. It was a film made by a fan that wished to extend the storyline and not repeat it, a lesson I wish "Creed II" helmer Steven Caple Jr. had learned.
"Creed II" is filled with great moments. If you have seen "Creed" and no other "Rocky" film, this film is fantastic. Shangri-fucking-la. Although, if you have stumbled upon any of the first 4 "Rocky" films then this is a painful watch as you play "Guess which scene, from which of the previous first four ‘Rocky' films is about to play out?" And if you are a fan of the Rocky franchise you won't even have to guess which scene from which movie comes next. You will know. You do not have superpowers. This is just lazy storytelling. A lazy type of storytelling in the age of the requel (yes, I made that up, a reboot in the form of a sequel), because this is exactly what this is on a more ambitious level than I have ever seen before. "Rocky II-IV" are picked apart for parts and put together to make this film, which is a shame. There is so much talent at hand. Every performance is fantastic. The cinematography is great. The soundtrack is awesome. The score is cool, although never reaching the level of the great Bill Conti. It is too bad that this is just a retread.
Given all that I have said before, I will again state that if you are not fans of the first 4 "Rocky" films, this is a fun movie. Its foundation in unoriginality will be lost on you. Enjoy the film. This is one time I can say, "ignorance truly is bliss."
V Versus the World