Creed II ★★★½

There's a moment in this movie in which Adonis tries to make the point that to him, boxing is the same thing as anyone else's passion, i.e. Bianca's singing and music.

I'm sorry, what?? Your dad died in the ring, and now this is somehow just a regular hobby?? Give me a break.

I would have loved for a major theme in this movie to be Adonis having to make a choice between boxing and his family. There are hints of that, but I think having it go all the way in that direction would have been outstanding.

That being said, I really enjoyed myself at the theater with this. It was a full crowd and they loved the fight scenes. Despite the cliche plot mechanics, and clunky dialogue/exposition, I found this to be a fun and competent sequel to a near-perfect film.

MBJ is an incredible actor, giving one of the best performances of his career in this. Sly still looks like shit, but I loved his acting. He IS Rocky. The theme of legacy and his relationship to Adonis as his father figure is elevated in this, to the point where the ending we get would serve as the perfect finale to the entire series. Too bad we'll probably get at least 2 or 3 more of these.

I thought the Dragos made for formidable foes, and Dolph had a real emotional motivation for his arc. Too bad most of their scenes are executed a bit too flatly and cartoony for my taste. By the end, their story does earn some dimension, and I found myself feeling a bit sorry for them.

Overall, I enjoyed this film, even though it feels more like a formulaic Rocky movie than the breath of fresh genius that was Coogler's Creed.