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MOVIE REVIEW: Creed 2 a classic sports showdown

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Vicky Sparks

When Creed came out in 2015, it shouldn’t have worked. A kind of sequel to a movie franchise that already had five installments, the most recent of which had been released 25 years earlier, was not something the world needed.

Yes, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) was a classic character but we’d already seen him do everything under the sun. Except, it turns out – get old and take a secondary role to a new, fresh face.

Michael B Jordan took the reins of the franchise as the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, Adonis, and convinced Rocky to train him. He won Rocky over and audiences too – the film was a surprise hit with critics and moviegoers alike and even netted Stallone a Golden Globe win and a surprise Oscar nomination.

Director Ryan Coogler (who would go on to direct a little movie called Black Panther) built the film on charismatic performances and characters that broke out of their all too familiar stereotypes. As a result, the film was a nuanced and subtle look at fathers and sons, family and the triumphant return of the underdog.

This time around we catch up with Adonis, Rocky and the gang a few years after we left off. Adonis is now a famous boxer and when he wins the Heavy Weight Champion of the world title an old enemy of his father’s can’t resist coming back to take it away.

That’s right – Ivan Drago is back. And this time he’s brought his son Viktor (also, as luck would have it – a boxer!) a mountain sized young man raised in utter hell and abuse who wants to crush Adonis in the hopes that his father will finally love him. Who could resist such a match up?

Creed v Drago part 2! Despite this predictable pairing, the film still manages a few surprises amongst its obvious twists and turns.

Returning to round out the cast are Tessa Thompson as girlfriend/musician and Philicia Rashad as momma Creed. Both continue to turn in excellent, layered and real performances this time in expanded roles. Stallone is older, greyer and slower but continues to hit the right balance of nostalgia and freshness.

Jordan and Stallone once again show off a chemistry and affection for one another that the series would fall apart without.

But this is Michael B. Jordan’s movie and he and his dimples know it. This is the second time this year that he’s played an orphaned man hell-bent on avenging his father (see Killmonger in Black Panther) and he builds solidly on the foundation of the sympathetic and kind character that he established in the previous film.

This film lost director Ryan Coogler and his subtle and nuanced touch is missed – this time is a much more predictable, classic sports showdown of good guy and bad guy than its predecessor.

The good news is that the characters continue to be so richly drawn that you forgive its occasional missteps.

If you loved the original Rocky series, you’ll love seeing Stallone in his second act and if you’re new to the franchise you’ll love the fresh new take on a classic story – Creed 2 can’t miss.

Vicky Sparks is a Bright’s Grove native and movie critic for Global TV’s The Morning Show, which airs nationally on Fridays. Her Journal Reviews cover movies playing at Galaxy Cinemas Sarnia

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