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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Creed II (Blu-ray)
Creed II (Blu-ray)
Other // PG-13 // March 5, 2019 // Region A
List Price: $25.14 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted March 15, 2019 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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The Movie:

Creed II is essentially Rocky II to Creed's Rocky. It's not as groundbreaking and rousing as the first film, and pretty much follows in the footsteps of the same story structure, but expertly delivers on the tone and energy we would expect from a solid sequel. Let's hope that this parallel stops here, so we won't get an ‘80s talking robot falling in love with Tessa Thompson's character by the time we get to Creed IV. I remain astonished that the worst film in the Rocky franchise, the Reagan wet dream feature length music video known as Rocky IV, has produced two good spin-off flicks that not only kept the franchise alive, but veered it to an exciting new generation of fans.

In Rocky IV, Carl Weathers' Apollo Creed's death at the hands of Dolph Lundgren's Russian supermachine Ivan Drago was used as a desperate attempt to give Sylvester Stallone's Rocky motivation to kick some ass in the third act. Stallone, who wrote all Rocky films, had used the same gimmick in Rocky III and disposed of Burgess Meredith's Mickey, so he was running out of characters. And having Drago punch Talia Shire's Adrian to death could have looked a bit tasteless. Out of this plot convenience came Ryan Coogler's Creed, which envisioned Apollo's son Adonis (Michael B. Jordan), trying to measure up to his father's legacy. Creed II digs deeper into the Rocky IV lore, and brings back Ivan Drago, who's been rigidly training his son Viktor (Florian Munteanu) to punch the living daylights out of Adonis as a personal search for revenge.

After his defeat at Rocky's punches, Ivan's been an outcast in his home country for decades, shunned because of his loss. What better revenge than going after the kid who's not only the son of the man he killed, but who's also trained by the man who beat him? I have to admit, this premise sounds as hacky as they come when it comes to putting together a sequel. It has that "This time it's personal!"-tagline-slapped-on-the-poster vibe to it. Add to this the fact that the film it directly follows is three decades old, and I shouldn't be blamed for ringing alarm bells against the sequel of a movie that was in my Top 10 in 2005.

But Creed II somehow pulls it all off by focusing almost entirely on character development over premise. It takes the conflict of Rocky IV seriously and asks why these characters would act the way they do years later. It gives relatable context to a character who was essentially an emotionless robot when we first saw him. Ivan is a broken man who just wants some recognition by his peers, and his arc is the most prominent in Creed II, as he gradually realizes he's giving up far more than he might receive.

Stateside, Adonis struggles with his personal desires against his responsibilities building a family with Bianca (Thompson). The conflict until we get to the third act is typical of any Rocky sequel: Is it worth alienating friends and family in search of some personal vendetta? Of course by the time we get to the climactic supermatch, some compromise is found, our fighter strengths his bond with his loved ones, and we get to see an epic fight. Creed II delivers on all of those angles in a way that should not only satisfy hard core fans of the Rocky and Creed franchises, but manages to add more depth to characters we either thought we knew, or thought didn't have any depth in the first place.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

The film's character oriented indie look needed a transfer that could handle the muted colors while also delivering on the rousing moments with the visual exuberance it deserves. The crisp 1080p transfer handles both ends beautifully.

Audio:

The DTS-HD 5.1 track explodes in all of its surround glory during the fighting scenes, where every channel gets their share of punches and ambient boom. The dramatic scenes really come to life when the score kicks in, and the sub-woofer especially enjoys some natural dusting off when the many non-diegetic song choices come to the fore.

Extras:

Fathers and Sons: A quick look into the father-son dynamics within both sides of the story.

Casting Viktor Drago: A five-minute EPK about Florian Munteanu's transfer from real fighting to movie brawls.

The Women of Creed II: Another very brief EPK, this one about Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad, who plays Adonic Creed's mother.

Rocky's Legacy: A 15-minute lovefest from the cast and crew about one of the most iconic characters in American cinema.

Deleted Scenes: 10 minutes of excised material. Nothing really special here.

Final Thoughts:

Executed with a balance between grand vision and personal precision by director Steven Caple Jr, who like Creed writer/director Ryan Coogler, comes from the indie world, Creed II is a worthy follow-up. The great A/V presentation here should provide a clear addition to your Rocky and Creed Blu-ray collection. The Creed franchise is going strong so far, but please don't have Adonis fight an exuberant dude with a Mohawk for the third one.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com

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