Year Released: 2018
Directed by: Steven Caple, Jr.
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lungren, Phylicia Rashad
(PG-13, 130 min.)
Genre: Drama, Action and Adventure
“In the ring, you got rules. Outside, you got nothing.” Rocky Balboa
One of the hardest things to do as you age is to back out of the spotlight and yield to another. And that is just what Sylvester Stallone does in both Creed films. And he does so with a dignity and grace that should be a model for us all.
We see this literally in many instances of the film where Stallone’s Rocky emerges from the shadows, as he does in his first appearance in Creed 2. He is a dark and diminutive figure in the lower left portion of the screen that we do not even notice at first. What we do see is the back of one of Creed’s (a very well muscled up Michael B. Jordan) entourage with a huge CREED logo on a gold jacket. It fooled me at first. I thought that must be Rocky, his back toward us as a way of downplaying his oversized character.
Then Stallone fools us once again, just as he has always defied his critics. When Adonis Creed takes on the challenge from the son of the Russian fighter who killed his father in the ring decades ago, we expect Rocky to there in his corner coaching him.
But Rocky is having none of it. He is still nursing the pain from the Apollo Creed’s death and his failure to “throw in the towel” before that fatal blow to his former rival and then best friend.
So when the big grudge match occurs, Rocky is not ringside in LA. He is not even in the audience. He is at home at Adrian’s, his little Italian restaurant in Philly, first in the basement rolling out dough as a way to iron out his nerves (as well as the pastry.)
Then in a darkened room watching the screen and Creed’s agonizing defeat – from a distance. A flight to a LA hospital room and the badly injured fighter does not go well, and we see Rocky, again, only through a parking garage mirror as he exits and flies back to Philly.
Not only is the old Rocky, the invincible Italian stallion of old days, out of the picture, but so is his music. Creed trains to rap tunes played at full volume.
Oh, how Different Drummer yearned for that iconic tune to come back to us, but it only teases a few bars in one or two significant places.
Still another note that resonates is a scene on the iconic Philly Courthouse steps where the young Rocky always topped his raw egg-fueled workouts. We see tourists posing for pictures there and a bigger than life bronze statue of the young fighter. Then the real Rocky walks past, an anonymous figure not recognized by anyone.
Michael B. Jordan does a nice job with his role, showing range and vulnerability. And Tessa Thompson, his now fiancée is fine in her role, but somehow they do not capture our attention as much as the rags to riches Rocky did some 30 years ago. Maybe because the young Creed is a riches to riches kind of guy, and let’s face it, there is only one Rocky – at least in my book.
Ivan Drago, played by Swedish actor Dolph Lungren who in real life has a master’s degree in chemical engineering and was a Fulbright Scholar at MIT, rounds out his character to be more than a cardboard villain. We see his pain and obsession and the toll it has taken on his son, Viktor (Florian Munteanu).
In the long run, this is a film about family, more specifically, fathers and sons – the separation and the loss and the anguish they bring upon themselves. It is about forgiveness and healing. The public persona tied to fame and glory takes a back seat to what really matters in life.
Say what you want about Stallone’s limited range as an actor, but for my money, he is a lot like 88-year-old Clint Eastwood. The best is yet to come.
Not to miss.
Rating: 4 Drums
Since Creed II reintroduces Ivan Drago, the 1985 Russian whose fatal boxing match with Apollo Creed, was much a part of that era’s infamous Cold War, I think the delicious and easy to prepare Red Russian Cocktail is perfect for your Creed II viewing.
I’ll let Rebecca Hubbell of Sugar and Soul. Co take it away for me:
Red Russian Cocktail
A Red Russian Cocktail is made with equal parts cherry liqueur and vodka over ice. Serve it up in a punch bowl for parties or serve it in short glasses for individual cocktails.
As a hostess, I always look for dishes and drinks that can either be prepared ahead of time or made quickly and easily after guests have arrived. After all, the point of throwing a party with all your loved ones isn’t to spend the whole time in the kitchen — it’s to enjoy your company. That’s why I love making these Red Russians when the party’s at my house. With just two ingredients, I’m able to serve a boozy signature cocktail that’s as red and shiny as a Christmas ornament!
Whatever you use, you can pour these two ingredients into a punch bowl for easy self-serving, and when you run out, it can be refilled it in 30 seconds flat! Not throwing a party? Simply stir the two liquids together over ice in a short glass!
Since Red Russian Cocktails are so simple, I like to provide guests with a few different garnish options, like Maraschino cherries, raspberries, strawberries, or orange slices. And don’t forget the toothpicks or plastic swords! This bright red beverage looks beautiful in glass goblets with gold or green accents, which compliment the drink’s festive color. It’s like the holidays in a glass!
Here are a few other choices: