Creed II [2018] ★★★

It’s easy to throw the word “predictable” at any boxing movie these days. After all, if you’ve seen the 6 Rocky movies and 2015’s terrific “Creed”, then you probably know what to expect from “Creed II”. So to say that it’s all about the journey and not the destination would really be the understatement of the year. But what a journey this is. From the opening sequence to the pulse-pounding climax, this sequel gets so many things right, and as a long time fan of the Rocky series, I found myself cheering every step of the way. Plotwise, I’m going to assume that you’ve seen “Rocky IV” and cut right to the chase. Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) is still bitter about his loss to Rocky back in 1985. What to do? Bring in his own son to challenge the world heavyweight champion. That would be Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), son of Apollo Creed, who died at the hands of…Ivan Drago! You couldn’t ask for a better plot, and you certainly couldn’t ask for a better direction. Director Steven Caple Jr. doesn’t have many credits to his name, but he does a tremendous job at keeping his audience hooked until the very end. The result is a sequel that builds on its predecessor to deliver a story that packs an emotional punch. Jordan once again shows tremendous commitment to his character, and his scenes with Sylvester Stallone are a knockout.

You’d think by now the Rocky franchise would be running out of steam. And yet, “Creed II” feels fresh, despite its formulaic nature. It’s a crowd-pleaser from start to finish.

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