Dec 4, 2018
Welcome back to the podcast. Only one episode today so we can give the spotlight to Garrett from the Two Views Movies podcast. I’ll be continuing my story from the wildfire evacuation in a minute, but if you haven’t heard the earlier segments, hit pause, then go back to my review for “Outlaw King” (Episode #314) for the first segment, then listen every episode after that for another installment. Let me know you’re listening by sharing this episode with #WelcomeBackOMP.
Last segment, I was trying to figure out how to restart the podcast, having gotten my thoughts from the fire out in my journal. I was pretty exhausted after that, though, as I was recovering from whatever illness I had caught. It was still too much to get started on the podcast, but I was doing a lot of thinking that day, especially about the goals I had set for myself this year, and the different paths I had traveled down with the podcast. I had started out with a watch list cobbled together from the Best of 2017 lists, a desire to watch all the Netflix Original movies, and to eventually evolve the podcast to feature guests. I was on track to finish a few of those, but I had also abandoned a few others. MoviePass was a bust, as I couldn’t see a single movie due to limited showings or disappearing times. And I still had a house to get back in order, and another project I had begun working on that felt like it had to be abandoned.
But I also had fans and collaborators out there that I wanted to see through, including today’s guest, Garrett from the Two Views Movies podcast. Funny story. When he first contacted me to do Takeover Tuesday, I made a big deal of asking if he had enough time to see the movie and get the review done during the Thanksgiving Break. And here I ended up having to suspend the podcast because of the wildfire. Still, Garrett delivered, and I didn’t want to disappoint him, or the other collaborators from last month, so here we are, and I couldn’t be happier. Thanks for your patience, Garrett!
Here’s a quick promo, and the review will follow.
My name is Garrett Wright and I co-host Two Views Movies podcast along with my friend Carson Graff. We are a spoiler-filled podcast by two guys who love watching movies almost as much as we love arguing about them. Our weekly podcast features reviews of new releases, retro reviews of older favorites, obscure top 5 lists, and our two views of all things movies. You can find our podcast on all major platforms and at TwoViewsMovies.com where you can also find spoiler-free written reviews of the movies we watch. I’m thrilled to be the guest for today’s episode. You can follow me on Twitter at @TwoViewsGarrett ( that’s G-A-R-R-E-T-T) or you can follow the podcast on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at the username @TwoViewsMovies
Today’s movie is “Creed II” (2018), the MGM and Warner Bros. drama directed by Steven Caple Jr. and written for the screen by Sylvester Stallone and Juel Taylor, based on a story by Cheo Hodari Coker and Sascha Penn, and the characters developed by Ryan Coogler. Creed II follows Adonis Creed’s life inside and outside of the ring as he deals with newfound fame, issues with his family, and his continuing quest to become a champion. Under the tutelage of Rocky Balboa, Adonis Creed faces off against Viktor Drago, son of Ivan Drago.
We’re keeping it spoiler-FREE today, so keep on listening…
When Creed was released in 2015, it faced a myriad of obstacles. How would it successfully reinvigorate a beloved 40-year-old franchise that had been sitting idle for almost a decade? What should it do with the main character defined by boxing, that can no longer box? And how would it introduce brand new characters and stories but still honor the legacy of everything that came before it? The combination of Ryan Coogler, Sylvester Stallone, and Michael B. Jordan came together flawlessly to resoundingly answer all of these questions and knock down all of the obstacles that stood in their way.
With Creed II, director Steven Caple, Jr. was staring at arguably greater challenges. As with any sequel, this film needed to build upon the newly-established characters in meaningful ways that would continue to resonate with audiences. The element of surprise was going to be harder to come by in the sequel. It could not turn the Rocky franchise on its head in ways the first Creed did. And the biggest challenge of all arose from the decision to steer the story directly into the heart of Rocky nostalgia for many fans — Rocky IV — by revisiting Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren). Thankfully, Caple, Jr. has crafted a sequel that continues the journey for our beloved characters while honoring the franchise in a way that hasn’t quite been seen before - even from Coogler’s Creed.
Fans of the Rocky saga will immediately recognize the thematic parallels between Creed II and previous movies. There is the pacing of Rocky II which focuses more on the main character’s development outside of the ring through self-exploration and family relationships. The journey of Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) as it relates to boxing is more akin to the hero’s quest archetype Rocky experiences in Rocky III. And then there are the obvious connections to Rocky IV that serve as the foundation for the story and is explored throughout the entire film. But for those that aren’t as well versed in Rocky lore, these themes are still very relatable since part of what makes the franchise so successful is its ability to connect with audiences on core emotional levels that are familiar to everyone.
In a refreshing shakeup to the Rocky formula, the writers of Creed II opted to move away from the one-dimensional bad guys of previous films and instead delivered multi-faceted villains that border on anti-heroes. Ivan Drago is infamously (and intentionally) shallow in Rocky IV, but in Creed II, both he and his son Viktor (Florian Munteanu) are fleshed out as characters with true emotional depth. This gives them significance to the story that matches their counterparts, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) and Adonis. In turn, the audience finds itself in a situation where for the first time in the entire series, they may not be entirely sure what outcome they want in the inevitable final clash between Viktor and Adonis.
Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone continue to develop an on-screen relationship that feels like the most poignant of the entire series. Jordan’s raw, non-verbal emotional moments hit hard at just the right times. Stallone’s take on the aged Rocky filled with sage advice seems to be the most perfect form of the character that is approaching its natural, inevitable conclusion. Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad reprise their roles as Bianca and MaryAnne Creed respectively and each rise to the occasion as a melded Adrian 2.0. The two combine to be the modern embodiment of the phrase “behind every great man, there is a great woman” — a staple of the Rocky films. And while Dolph Lundgren and Florian Munteanu aren’t given a lot of dialogue, they deliver it poignantly and support it with interactions that add weight to the strained family dynamic of the Dragos.
Though the film feels like it is missing a bit of Ryan Coogler’s Midas touch in some areas (filming of boxing scenes, emotional resonance, and dialog strength), Steven Caple, Jr. has delivered a very worthy sequel that can be enjoyed equally by fans of Creed, Rocky, and newcomers alike. Creed 2 may not be the knockout punch the first film was, but it is a successful title defense for a franchise that it is the undisputed champion of sports movies.
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
One Movie Punch: 8.0/10
“Creed II” (2018) is rated PG-13 and is currently playing in theaters!
Thanks for listening to my guest review. If you like what you heard, reach out to me on social media and subscribe to my podcast. And I will catch you (hopefully) next time!