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« Blueprints: "Rent" | Main | Months of Meryl: Dancing at Lughnasa (1998) »
Thursday
Jun212018

Yes No Maybe So: Creed II

by Sean Donovan

The son of Apollo Creed returns in Creed II! Creed was one of the surprise gems of 2015, delivering blockbuster entertainment with genuine impact and grit. I was ready to write off this idea of a sequel as soon as I learned Ryan Coogler was not on board as a director, thinking that the resonance, intensity, and readiness to embrace topical political contexts of the first Creed all came from him.

But the first trailer, along with the film’s very elegant first poster, brawny and tough in the best way, has come along to soundly quell those concerns and suggest this is in no way a simple studio rush job. So let’s go over the evidence with a Yes No Maybe So™ Breakdown of the trailer and a full look at that perfect teaser poster...

 

YES

  • Michael B. Jordan. Ryan Coogler’s muse has already delivered one show-stopping performance in the cinematic year 2018, Killmonger’s bruised swagger and violence leaving an enormous impression on viewers in Black Panther. His work in the first Creed, however, remains the high watermark of his career: incredibly thrilling, physical work that pits Adonis’s struggle of body against his struggle of mind, reaching a peace with his past, two conflicts that Jordan crafts masterfully. In his intensity and nuance he reminds me of the iconic leading men of the 70s - De Niro, Pacino, Jack Nicholson. I hope we’re all witness to iconic star levels of this blossoming career, with Creed II fully a part of Jordan’s ascendance.

  • Sweat. Lots of it. Dripping off throbbing muscles. Heaving bodies in man to man combat under hot lights…oh sorry, I drifted off there for a second.

  • Taking over cinematography from the talented Maryse Alberti is television regular Kramer Morgenthau, but in the switch Creed has lost none of its flair for drama. Boxing is cinema’s favorite sport, may we never forget, and Morgenthau’s lensing clearly highlights that sense of showmanship.

  • Michael B. Jordan boxes at the bottom of a pool! Pool boxing! He's like Muhammad Ali. 


...Or like Aquaman but BETTER!

  • Again. POOL. BOXING.  

  • Phylicia Rashad. Rashad was a likable warm presence in the first film but her arc felt a little under-nourished. The hint of a big stand-off scene with Jordan is a thrilling proposition; it would be nice to see some fire from this great under-utilized actress.

 

MAYBE SO

  • Stallone. We find Rocky more or less where we left him in the first film, reading a newspaper on a fold-up chair in front of Adrian’s grave. Stallone’s craggy exhaustion is a good resource for some sentimentality, but after the acclaim and subsequent Oscar nomination he received for Creed, is there anywhere else to take this? Haven't we been there, done that?

  • Tessa. Just like Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson is compiling an excellent portfolio: Dear White People, Creed, Thor: Ragnarok. She ranks among the most exciting actresses of her generation. Her Bianca felt like something special and moving in Creed. Bianca struggled with hearing loss as Adonis stretched the limitations of his fitness; a romance built on mutual body insecurities. Will a sequel reduce her to merely the supportive wife? I trust Tessa Thompson to spin some gold out of anything, but if a script has simplified the character there’s only so much she can do.

  • Speaking of Bianca, what is happening with her fashion? Is she wearing the outfit of a World War II nurse as she stands by Adonis’s bedside? Is this some Hello My Name is Doris oldster-kitsch-is-hip-again nonsense?

NO

  • Baby makes three? One of the thrills of Creed was Jordan and Thompson’s fresh portrayals of young people finding themselves- saddling them with a child already feels premature to me. And a dangerous direct route to familiar ‘sports vs. family’ clichés.  

  • Nostalgia. “People like me, they live in the past” creaks Stallone in voice-over, and indeed that seems to be the precise danger Creed II faces. You can only cash in on fan love for the original Rocky films for so long, and pulling in another descendant of a Rocky rival from the past (Ivan Drago) feels brazenly uncreative. What hope does the film have of standing on its own legs if it’s in constant reference to the past?

 

But overall it's an emphatic YES here at TFE for more time with Adonis Creed. Do you agree?

 

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Reader Comments (11)

Yes. Yes. YES!!!!

Ahhhhh..

June 21, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Shame that MBJ wasn't nominated for Creed but I see a nomination in his future.

June 21, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I'm leaning towards Yes but with some caution as I'm unsure of what will happen. Plus, Sly is on my list of people I have no respect for since he decided to kiss the Dictator's ass like a bitch.

June 21, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

YES. I got so excited when Phylicia popped up in the trailer.

June 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

I remember liking "Creed" and yet I have no memory of it.

The original "Rocky" is one of the best American films about America, IMO, so I'm on the "Yes" train.

"Heaving bodies in man on man combat" doesn't hurt either. My my!

June 21, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

YES! The first had incredible star turns and a great throw back feel. I hope this one doesn't spin its wheels too much on on-going "daddy issues", but I'm looking forward to spending a bit more time with these characters.

June 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterVal

I have no idea how this "He's Going To Fight Drago's SON!!!!" angle will work out in the film (if it works at all), but how crazy is it that this storyline is being taken advantage of right when the Russians are The Bad Guys again?

June 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

I'm bored with the Drago Part II approach. It'll take some sparkling reviews to get me interested again.

June 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKJ

I liked Creed but I only watched it for Jordan and the Oscar nomination. It was surprisingly good but boxing movies just aren't my thing so I'll probably skip this one.

June 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

CAN'T WAIT!

June 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Kenney

It seems they won't make the same mistakes the guys of Star Wars did.

June 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKenny Fillis

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