Rocky’s protégé seeks to avenge his father’s death.
At the Hollywood sequel factory, “even the flimsiest premises are now fair game,” said Chris Nashawaty in Entertainment Weekly. Consider Creed II. For some reason, the follow-up to the hit that reinvigorated the Rocky franchise turns to 1985’s hokey installment for inspiration. Here, newly crowned heavyweight champion Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) is about to propose to his pregnant girlfriend (Tessa Thompson) when he receives a challenge to fight the son of the Russian fighter who killed Adonis’ father in the ring. From there, the movie “slavishly follows the sentimental-palooka Rocky template” but also tells “a rousing tale about fathers and sons, guilt and redemption.” Sylvester Stallone gives “another warm, finely tuned performance” as the long-retired Rocky Balboa, who advises Adonis not to take the bait, said Kyle Smith in NationalReview.com. The climactic fight turns out to be less interesting than the tender scenes shared between Adonis and Thompson’s Bianca, proving that “a surprise-free movie can be a satisfying one, if the grace notes are played with care.” Though it can’t compare with its predecessor, said Benjamin Lee in TheGuardian.com, “Creed II is still another knockout piece of entertainment.” ■