Review: ‘Creed II’ Is A Fitting Addition To The ‘Rocky’ Franchise

Creed II Michael B Jordan Sylvester Stallone Rocky Balboa Adonis Creed

The Rocky franchise is considered as one of the greatest in movie history. The first Rocky film spawned sequel after sequel, and while not all of them were great, they will live on having some of the best moments in Pop Culture history. After Rocky V, the franchise seemed finished. That was until visionary director Ryan Coogler delivered a pitch that featured the son of Rocky foe-turned-friend Apollo Creed.

The first Creed film was garnered with critical acclaim. It even went on to get nominated for several awards and Sylvester Stallone was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The studio green-lit a sequel for Creed, but then it was announced that Ryan Coogler couldn’t helm it due to his current obligations directing Marvel’s Black Panther and Stephen Caple Jr. would go on to take directing responsibilities. As time went on and filming began we got to know a little bit about the plot and it appeared that the film would have Adonis face his biggest challenge yet: Victor Drago, the son of the man who murdered his father in the ring. I got to see the main event between Creed and Drago and I have to say it did not disappoint.

If the first Creed was kind of a retread of the first Rocky with the underdog going toe-to-toe with the world champion and showing him who’s boss then Creed II is something new entirely to the Rocky franchise. Creed II tells the story of Adonis’ rise to fame after his big fight with “Pretty” Ricky Conlan in the first film. Adonis is killing it in the ring and even becomes World Champion all the while getting his mustang back from Danny “Stuntman” Wheeler.

Creed II Rocky Balboa Ivan Drago Viktor Drago

As the film goes on, Adonis realizes being the champ comes with a price when he gets baited to fight Victor Drago. Adonis’ struggle with wanting to fight Drago and avenge his father’s death all the while having those close to him tell him he shouldn’t fight creates an inner conflict of who he is as a fighter and what is he fighting for. Creed II is the story of Adonis’ figuring out what he really is and the way the film unravels resolves that perfectly while delivering stellar performances from Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson and Dolph Lundgren.

Michael B. Jordan returns to the ring as Adonis Creed and shows new skill as well as handles what’s given to him in this role with expertise. As Adonis grows, so does Jordan’s acting ability. There are moments in the film where you really feel that Jordan has become Creed and is experiencing everything the character is and you become empathetic for him. Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky is a little bit older and a little bit wiser and is 100 percent more healthier than the last film, but is still dealing with an internal struggle that Stallone masterfully handles and may hopefully get another nomination for his performance as the retired boxer-turned-trainer. Rocky and Adonis’ relationship is a bit rocky to say the least in this film, but the two actors still play off each other incredibly well and you feel the love between them.

Creed Michael B. Jordan Sylvetser Stallone

Tessa Thompson’s is back as one of the leading ladies in Adonis’ life. Thompson has more purpose as Bianca in the sequel and she handles the role spectacularly. And with all the stress that comes with being in a relationship with a boxer, Bianca never falters and stands by Adonis in his time of need, though she doesn’t agree with his decisions. Phylicia Rashad as Mary Ann Creed is ever so welcomed as she becomes the heart of the film, making sure the characters stick together and that Adonis has all the guidance he needs around him. Meanwhile, Dolph Lundgren makes his epic return as Ivan Drago and has developed a dastardly plan to restore his name. Drago is smart, bitter, maniacal and ruthless. He’s relying on his son Victor Drago, played by boxer Florian Munteanu, to restore the name of Drago. Munteanu does what he can in the film and becomes the ultimate adversary to Adonis. There’s a lot pain behind his brutality derived from the tactics of his father, giving us a compelling backstory for our antagonists in and out the ring and making the film a well rounded piece of art.

Overall Thoughts: Creed II is like a breath of fresh air for the Rocky franchise, but it still feels like it’s missing the touch of Ryan Coogler. If you’re looking for a fast-paced boxing film with impeccable fights sequences, this is the film for you. If you’re looking for the heart that was in the first film, you’ll also find that here as I found myself sobbing multiple times. All in all, I think it’s a great movie, but it isn’t as good as the first.

Rating: 8/10

The 9 Best Things About ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’

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Red Dead Redemption 2Well, cowboys and cowgirls, Red Dead Redemption 2 is finally here. Eight years after the original title took the gaming world by storm, Rockstar is back with a prequel set ten years before the original. For people who like horses but may not want to ride them in real life, they're in luck, because anyone who plays Red Dead Redemption 2 will be sitting on a horse for quite a while. As you pursue an outlaw life, jumping from town-to-town, players explore a world full of danger and excitement behind every corner.

Red Dead Redemption 2 has already broken pretty much every entertainment record imaginable. It's had the most successful opening weekend for any entertainment product ever, so you don't need to take my word on why this game is so good, just go look at the numbers. Underneath the massive, 60-hour story, is a beautiful world layered with complicated characters, powerful predators and painful memories. So, what are you waiting for, go jump on your horse and start playing this game!

Hit Next to discover the 9 Best Things about Red Dead Redemption 2!

9. The Dialogue

Red Dead Redemption 2

Sure the game is beautiful and it's fun to duel other outlaws, but what first pulls people into Red Dead Redemption 2 is the sharp writing and dialogue. Every character, from the protagonist Arthur Morgan or his colleagues in Dutch's gang to the random interactive individuals the player bumps into, has sharp, unique dialogue. Despite the similarities between many characters, they all have something interesting to say and add to the world. More than just time-filler, the background conversations in this game often fill people in on the details of the world and give hints about other people's backgrounds. Sitting down at a local saloon to play poker is more than just an entertaining way to lose some money, it's also a way to collect information. Red Dead Redemption 2 takes place in a rough setting, so it's fascinating to learn what people are thinking and stressing about at that time through their dialogue.

8. Open World

Red Dead Redemption 2

Instead of being restricted to one town, Red Dead Redemption 2 is an open world game in every way imaginable. Once the game loads up, there is no loading as the character traverses the massive map. Instead, the game seamlessly transitions from one area to the next as Arthur rides around on his horse. Then, once you finally settle on a town or a camp you like, the people are already walking around and talking, waiting for some interaction. Once this game boots up there is nothing that takes you out of the moment, giving the game a very fluid, life-like quality.

7. John Marston and the Gang

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption became an immediate classic for many reasons. An incredible plot and slick game-play certainly helped, but part of why audiences truly connected with the classic game was the protagonist: John Marston. A former outlaw who has since found a new path, Marston is an ethical individual trying his best to survive as the west slowly transforms into an industrially controlled zone. Over the course of the first game, players truly grow alongside Marston and watch as he interacts with people from his past and hatches a plot to keep his family safe.

Red Dead Redemption 2 may be a prequel that sees players control a different character, Arthur Morgan, but that doesn't mean Rockstar forgot about their original sweetheart. Marston is back, and this time he's much younger, meaner and stupider as he's still a young man trying to make his mark on the world. His family and many of the shady character's he crosses in Red Dead Redemption are here too, giving audiences even more information about Marston and the way he likes to live his life. At the moment, Red Dead Redemption 2 seems to be setting Morgan and Marston up for some kind of confrontation, but I'm just happy to see the classic cowboy back after all these years.

6. Staying Alive

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 is more than just an intense single-player game, it's also an RPG that makes players take care of themselves. It's not enough simply to heal yourself, to stay at top performance, players have to make sure Arthur is constantly nourished and well-rested. Over fatigue is a big deal in this game, and if you find yourself too far away from your horse you may have to start foraging for food in order to make the long trek back.

Not only do players have to keep Arthur alive, but they also have to take care of their horse. It may sound tedious, but ensuring that the players horses are at top strength is an essential component of the game. No one in the west just jumped on a random horse and immediately bonded with them, it takes time to cultivate that relationship, and Red Dead Redemption 2 allows this simple, realistic side of the cowboy lifestyle to shine through.

5. Hunting Simulator

Red Dead Redemption 2

There are a lot of ways to entertain yourself in Red Dead Redemption 2's massive world, but one of the most interesting things to do is go hunting. Whether your skinning animals to make money in town or finding something to eat for dinner, the game takes the act of hunting very seriously. Everything from foxes to grizzly bears are roaming this big world, and players need to stay alert as to where they are on the map or they may just cross a hungry predator. There are multiple levels to hunting in this game, including tracking and laying out bait, making it a long-process where players need to patiently stalk their prey instead of simply pointing their gun and shooting into the forest.

4. Choose for Yourself: The Rockstar Formula

Red Dead Redemption 2

Like most games with a major story running through it, a lot of the character's actions are predetermined. But, as with any Rockstar game, players can choose to cause a ruckus or follow society's laws. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Grand Theft Auto is just letting loose and causing some trouble, and while the carnage isn't nearly as destructive in Red Dead Redemption 2, running from the law is just as fun. Having a large bounty on your head may make things inconvenient in major cities, but it's easy enough to pay it off at a local train station. What makes playing an outlaw so entertaining is that they get to be a hero on one day and a scoundrel on the next without feeling like they are abandoning their personalities.

3. The Beautiful Music

Red Dead Redemption 2

No game is complete without a beautiful soundscape, and Red Dead Redemption 2 has just that. Not only does it have a sprawling soundtrack that includes everyone from Willie Nelson to D'Angelo, but the score, recorded with over 100 artists, is wonderful. Woody Jackson, the composer on the original game, returned to score this new one and his pieces are as effective as ever. Whether you're just riding around the country or engaged in a vicious shootout, the music is right there accompanying you, dragging out the intensity or serenity of each moment.

2. The Scope

Red Dead Redemption 2

As entertaining as Red Dead Redemption 2's core story is- and this is speaking as someone who still hasn't defeated the massive game- it's really the side-missions and random interactions that make the game so enjoyable. Immersion is a word game critics and developers throw around a lot, but it is a central component of Red Dead Redemption 2. Whether you're just walking around the town or riding your horse through the desert, odds are someone is going to talk to you and introduce you to another part of this massive world. Everyone here has a story and something worth saying, making the amount of content shoved in the game seem almost daunting. Sometimes it's hard to choose which mission to continue because some of the side quests are equally or more compelling than the core story line. The game has 60 hours of story and over 500,000 lines of recorded dialogue, and this doesn't even include the upcoming online mode that will keep players engaged long-after they've defeated the solo mode.

1. Getting Back on the Saddle

Red Dead Redemption 2

There have been some big releases for game franchises over the last few months with both Call of Duty and Assassins Creed introducing new titles. What makes Red Dead Redemption 2 so special is that this is the first time gamers have stepped back into this world. Sure, there was the Undead Zombie expansion for the original game, something that added hours worth of content to the game, but this is a brand new experience that seemingly elevates everything that made the first one so special.

Players may control Arthur Morgan this time around, but that doesn't change much about the interactivity with this world. With the inclusion of cinematic mode, it's easy to truly get lost in Red Dead Redemption 2 as Arthur gallops across the plains. Whether you're taking in the sites, playing some poker in the local saloon or looking for trouble on the road, it's just so damn fun getting back into the cowboy mindset.

What do you think of Red Dead Redemption 2? Sound off with your thoughts below!

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Nathaniel Brail

Nathaniel Brail

Running things at HH. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @NateBrail