Directed by Steven Caple Jr.
Based on characters created by Ryan Coogler, Juel Taylor
Screenplay by Cheo Hodari Coker, Sylvester Stallone, Juel Taylor, Sascha Penn
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu
This film is the followup to Creed, and the eighth film in the Rocky series. This one was directed by Steven Caple Jr. (The Land). The story is based on characters created by Ryan Coogler (Black Panther) and Juel Taylor (Riotville). The story and screenplay were developed by Sylvester Stallone, Sascha Penn (Power), and Cheo Hodari Coker (Notorious). The cast features Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station), Sylvester Stallone (First Blood), Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok), and Phylicia Rashad (For Colored Girls). Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV) reprises his iconic role as Ivan Drago, with Florian Munteanu (Bogat) playing his son.
This is a nicely written followup to the smash hit that was 2015’s Creed. This one finds a great place to start, and focuses on the changing lives of the central characters. The writing does a nice job of digging into the psychology of the central characters throughout the film. This helps to establish the right motivation for a number of important character decisions throughout the story. There are great twists and turns throughout the movie that help to keep things from feeling too predictable.The dialogue in this one is solid, and avoids any big speeches or campy lines. This film also pays tribute to the original Rocky films with a number of more subtle touches. This is a great addition to the classic series.
Michael B. Jordan does excellent work with the title role in this one. He handles both the physical and emotional aspects of his role wonderfully . He also has great chemistry with the rest of the cast. There are some especially great moments between Jordan and Tessa Thompson in this one. Thompson also does a really nice job with a much larger role. Phylicia Rashad returns with a more substantial role in this one, and really connects nicely with her co-stars. Sylvester Stallone also does very good work bringing his most iconic character back to the screen.
Stallone isn’t the only one who brings a classic character back in this one. Dolph Lundgren comes back as Ivan Drago with an intense performance. There are some excellent scenes between him and Stallone that bring a lot of moments full circle. Florian Munteanu is a great addition to this movie. Instead of playing his part as a bruising and brainless boxer, he finds some depth that makes his character far more impressive. There are a number of other performances that help to round this one out.
The production work throughout this movie is very good. Thankfully, there aren’t any gimmicks that take away from the story. There is, however, a solid training montage that feels right at home in this series. The camera work is solid, and the fights are well-staged and choreographed. The music also adds a nice touch to the film.
This is a very nice addition to a classic series of films. The acting is very good, and the story is well-written. If you liked Creed, this is one you need to see. I would also encourage fans of the Rocky series to check this one out. I give this one 4.2 out of 5 stars.