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Movie review: ‘Creed II’ packs powerful punch

Published December 12. 2018 01:20PM

You may wonder why we need another feature movie about boxing.

There have been so many great movies about the pugilistic arts, among them: “Raging Bull” (1980), with Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta, and directed by Martin Scorsese, voted by movie critics as the best movie of the 1980s; “Somebody Up There Likes Me” (1956), with Paul Newman as Rocky Graziano; “Body and Soul” (1947), starring John Garfield; “Requiem for a Heavyweight” (1962), starring Anthony Quinn; “The Harder They Fall” (1956), starring Max Baer; “Million Dollar Baby“ (2014), starring Hilary Swank as a female boxer, and, of course, “Rocky” (1976), written by and starring Sylvester Stallone.

Moreover, who needs another “Rocky” movie, the eighth in the series?

We do.

“Creed II” is an explosive, powerful, emotional moviegoing experience.

It has another great lead actor performance by Michael B. Jordan as the boxer Adonis Creed. Jordan is subtly expressive. His face is mostly a mask. But when he breaks into a half-smile or even a grin, he lights up the screen. He’s also amazing in the scenes of his training and in the fights in the ring. This is one brave, committed and incredible performance.

“Creed II” has another great supporting actor performance by Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, as Adonis’ corner man, trainer and guru.

While Stallone is known for blockbuster movies such as the “Rambo” series and also for his wonderful performance in the indie film, “Copland” (1997), “Rocky” is his go-to role and he’s again splendid. Even though his voice has slowed to a nearly inaudible mutter, and his lopsided walk now is more of a crawl, there’s a lot of life left in his crestfallen face, lopsided smile and twinkle in his eye. Ya gotta love this palooka.

There are solid supporting performances by Tessa Thompson as Bianca, Adonis’ girlfriend; Phylicia Rashad as Mary Anne Creed, Adonis’ mother; Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago, Rocky’s old nemesis, and Florian “Big Nasty” Munteanu as Viktor Drago, Adonis’ opponent. Brigitte Nielsen appears in a cameo as Ludmilla Drago, Viktor’s mother.

The plotline in the screenplay written by Stallone and Juel Taylor (theatrical screenplay debut) from a story by Cheo Hodari Coker (“Lowriders,” 2016; “Notorious,” 2009) and Sascha Penn (theatrical film story debut) based on characters by Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther,” 2018; “Fruitvale Station,” 2013) is brilliantly streamlined.

Adonis Creed must fight Viktor Drago, son of Ivan Drago. If you know your “Rocky” movies, you’ll know how full-circle the storyline is. Apollo Creed, Adonis’ father, died in a championship fight at the hands of Ivan Drago.

Steven Caple Jr. (director, “The Land,” 2016) mixes it up impressively, with incredibly fast-paced and seemingly punishing boxing ring fight scenes balanced with leisurely paced character scenes between Rocky and Adonis and Adonis and Bianca, as well as a nice scene with Rocky and Adonis’ mother.

“Creed II” will have you cheering, crying and on the edge of your seat. “Creed II” lands a powerful punch. It deserves several Oscar nominations, including an actor nomination for Michael B. Jordan and a supporting actor nomination for Sylvester Stallone.

Don’t miss it.

“Creed II,” MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.) for sports action violence, language, and a scene of sensuality; Genre: Drama, Sport; Run time: 2 hrs., 10 mins. Distributed by Metro Goldwyn-Mayer.

Credit Readers Anonymous: “Creed II” was filmed on location in Philadelphia, Chester, Morton, Delaware County, and Deming, New Mexico The soundtrack includes snippets of “Gonna Fly Now (Theme from ‘Rocky’)” by Bill Conti, Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins.

Box Office, Dec. 7: “Ralph Breaks the internet” continued at No. 1 for three weeks in a row, with $16.1 million, $140.8 million, three weeks.

2. “Dr. Seuss’ the Grinch,” $15.1 million, $223.4 million, five weeks. 3. “Creed II,” $10.3 million, $96.4 million, three weeks. 4. “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” $6.8 million, $145.2 million, four weeks. 5. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” $6 million, $173.5 million, six weeks. 6. “Instant Family,” $5.6 million, $54.1 million, four weeks. 7. “Green Book,” $3.9 million, $19.9 million, four weeks. 8. “Robin Hood,” $3.5 million, $27.2 million, three weeks. 9. “The Possession of Hannah Grace, $3.1 million, $11.5 million, two weeks. 10. “Widows,” $3.1 million, $38.1 million, four weeks.

Unreel, Dec. 14:

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” PG: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman direct the voices of Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, and Hailee Steinfeld, and Mahershala Ali in the animated sci-fi film. Miles Morales becomes the Spider-Man of his imagination.

“Deadpool 2,” R: David Leitch directs Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin and Julian Dennison in the rerelease of the sci-fi action film.

“The Mule,” R: Clint Eastwood directs himself and Bradley Cooper, Michael Peña and Taissa Farmiga in the Crime Drama about a 90-year-old horticulturist and World War II veteran who is caught transporting $3 million in cocaine for a Mexican drug cartel.

“Mortal Engines,” PG-13: Christian Rivers directs Hera Hilmar, Hugo Weaving, Jihae and Robert Sheehan in the sci-fi thriller. A rebellion opposes a giant predator city on wheels.

“If Beale Street Could Talk,” R: Barry Jenkins directs KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King and Colman Domingo in the crime drama. A woman in Harlem tries to prove her fiancé is innocent of a crime.

Four popcorn boxes out of five popcorn boxes.

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