Creed II Review: Not a knock-out

Creed two is the much-anticipated sequel to the revival of the Oscar-winning Rocky franchise. The film continues to follow Adonis Creed in his rise to fame as a professional boxer. Audiences’ see Adonis face a foe from the past, the son of the man who killed his father in a match that never should have happened. Adonis is challenged by this new rival and faces an emotional battle both in the ring and outside. Additionally, we are given more insight into Adonis’ personal life as his relationship with Bianca becomes more serious and the pair welcomes a new addition to their family.

The film managed to encapsulate the same grandeur as the first, and the use of stylish urban costumes and an edgy modern soundtrack helped to create a very appealing presentation. The choreographed fights were also a high point for the film, and the prosthetic work on the lead actors face following a losing fight was convincing, even stomach churning. However, while the films technical aspects came together very beautifully, the story seemed to lack depth.

There were several plot points which audiences could have really sunk their teeth into, such as the discovery that Adonis’ and Bianca’s newly born daughter had inherited her mother’s disability. The scene which saw the pair discover the news was moving, the silent despair shared between the pair was gut-wrenching and the tension in the audience was palpable. But following this impressive scene, the subject matter was quickly dismissed. The picture seemed to sacrifice gritty scenes which delved into real issues in favour of lengthy training montages, which while visually appealing, lost their effect as they become more repetitive.

The relationship between Adonis and Rocky is also explored in more depth, and the film nicely balances the pairs disputes as to not alienate one character; audiences can understand their different points of view. While Sylvester Stallone’s acting has not significantly improved from the last film, if audiences go in with reasonably low expectations then they can get on board with the actors wise but poorly performed monologues which inspire the pair’s reunion.

The film’s antagonist Viktor Drago challenges Adonis to a fight, seemingly manipulated by his disgraced father and the bloodthirsty Russian boxing elites. The character is very much a prop, in multiple senses. He is being manipulated into action by those around him and his silent presence in the film really presents him more of an aesthetic figure than a fully developed character. The film attempts to make him into a sympathetic figure, he is distressed by his powerlessness and therefore is not the evil figure Adonis believes he is. While it is refreshing to see a film present an antagonist that is more than just figurehead for evil, given that the character does little more to express his anger than bang his fists on the table it is difficult to connect with him. Silent power is well and good, but not when it comes at the expense of your character development and audience’s ability to connect with them. So while Viktor is more than just a representation of all that is evil, he is certainly not a fully formed character.

Overall the film was an enjoyable watch but needed to delve further into the emotional intricacies of their characters. Perhaps one or two less training montages would have given the film the time it needed to become truly memorable.