By Michael Ordona,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Strong sequel has boxing violence, language.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Like the other Rocky movies (and so many other sports stories), the film has clear messages about courage, resilience, perseverance, determination. But the film also indulges in toxic masculinity, measuring men's worth by whether or not they win and forcing women into stereotypical roles as supportive moms/wives.
Positive Role Models
Rocky is a loving, paternal figure. Adonis bravely faces his own demons, but he tends to think with his fists and acts selfishly. Adonis' adoptive mother, Mary Anne, and fiancée, Bianca, love and support him, but the film ignores their own needs. Bianca, especially, takes on immense labor as she takes care of their newborn baby alone while Adonis trains for a boxing match in a different state.
Directed by biracial Black/Puerto Rican filmmaker Steven Caple Jr., the film features Black and White main characters, Adonis and Rocky. Supporting characters of color include Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and Donnie's adoptive mother, Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad). Russian-Ukrainian villains -- played inauthentically by Swedish and German-born Romanian actors who stumble through poorly accented Russian dialogue -- are stereotypically ruthless, though they're sympathetic characters. Female characters feel less developed here than they did in the first Creed film, filling stereotypical roles as emotional anchors. Bianca has progressive hearing loss and wears a hearing aid -- her journey is portrayed respectfully until she and Donnie find out their baby may be deaf. The following overwrought scene -- parents crying -- strongly uses a non-disabled perspective, as the baby's condition is used as a plot point for Donnie's growth.
Inclusion information: Black actors, Latinx actors, Black writers
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Violence & Scariness
Boxing-related violence. Though it's not more graphic than previous Rocky films, the intensity is stepped up slightly because the fights seem/feel more realistic. There's also a seriously depicted internal injury.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters kiss. In one scene, a newly engaged couple undresses and kisses passionately, sex implied. No nudity, but shirts come off, and a bra is visible.
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Strong language includes "s--t," "bitch," "hell," "damn," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Main character owns a Mustang car. Tecate and Jersey Mike's logos are prominent in a boxing ring. Glimpse of an Uppababy carseat.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults take prescription medication, drink wine, and toast champagne at dinner. Background smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Creed II -- the follow up to 2015's Creed -- is the eighth boxing drama in the Rocky saga and the second film to feature Adonis "Donnie" Creed (Michael B. Jordan) as the main character. This time around, with Rocky's (Sylvester Stallone) help, Donnie must fight the terrifying son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), the man who killed Donnie's father in the ring. Donnie is seriously injured at one point, and you can expect plenty of boxing-movie violence (some of it pretty intense/wince-inducing). Characters swear ("s--t," one comical use of "bitch") and kiss, and there's a scene of implied sex between an engaged couple (no nudity). Adults drink socially, take prescription medication, and smoke in the background. Viewers may take away clear messages about the importance of courage, resilience, perseverance, and determination. But female characters feel less developed here than they did in the first Creed film, filling stereotypical roles as emotional anchors for a male lead who's sorting through his own issues -- and not always in the healthiest of ways.
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Based on 8 parent reviews
Great except one scene
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Such a solid addtion to the Rocky and Creed legacy!
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What's the Story?
In CREED II, newly crowned heavyweight champion Adonis "Donnie" Creed (Michael B. Jordan) is challenged by Russian-Ukrainian behemoth Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) -- the man who killed Adonis' own father in the ring. Mentor Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) doesn't want Donnie to take the fight. The young boxer has just gotten engaged to his love, Bianca (Tessa Thompson), and they're expecting their first child. But after a devastating event in which Adonis is seriously injured, he seeks Rocky's help to face down the monster who's been training his whole life to destroy him. This film marks the eighth entry in the storied Rocky franchise and is the second, after 2015's Creed, to star Jordan.
Is It Any Good?
Despite some plot predictability and a little clunky dialogue, this film ably follows up Ryan Coogler's fine Creed with strong performances and emotional depth. New director Steven Caple Jr. displays a deft touch with his actors and brings interesting cinematic touches to a franchise that's not really known for them. You pretty much know what's going to happen in Creed II based on the trailer; heck, you pretty much know what's going to happen if you've seen any previous Rocky film. But it's not hard to go all in thanks to both the exciting boxing scenes and the chemistry between Jordan and Stallone in their surrogate father-and-son relationship. Jordan's boxing skills are impressive, and so is his acting. There are layers of doubt and regret in the faces of the four main father-son boxers here (especially Lundgren, delivering probably his best screen work to date) -- and deeper, more grown-up concerns than you might expect from the series. Creed II doesn't have the street-level grit of Creed, and women recede into the background to make room for men's storylines more so than in Coogler's vision.
It's clear Caple has another take in mind. He makes some subtle but interesting choices, such as manipulating audio during a swimming pool training scene. He and cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau (Thor: The Dark World) capture some of the most arresting images in the Rocky franchise, particularly in the obligatory training montage and when Donnie psyches himself up with quiet repetitions of "I'm the champ" as darkness envelops him. The boxing action feels particularly intense and unusually realistic for the series; when a character suffers a serious injury in the ring, we feel it. For some, the obviousness of the plot and dialogue ("I'm a chunk of yesterday tryin' to be today"), and its disservices to female, deaf, and/or hard-of-hearing characters may blunt the film's appeal. But though the script lags behind the direction, acting, and action, Creed II is a clear stylistic win.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the violence in Creed II. Does it seem realistic? Is it necessary? Does it feel different from the violence in previous Rocky movies? If so, how?
Does the movie glamorize the sport of boxing (and the violence inherent in it) or provide an even-handed view of it? How does this kind of violence compare to what you might see in an action movie? Which has more impact, and why?
Father-and-son relationships are a key part of the film. How did that part of the story affect you?
Is Rocky a role model? What do Rocky and Adonis bring to each other's lives?
- In theaters: November 21, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: March 5, 2019
- Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson
- Director: Steven Caple Jr.
- Inclusion Information: Black actors, Latinx actors, Black writers
- Studios: Annapurna Pictures, MGM
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 130 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sports action violence, language, and a scene of sensuality
- Last updated: May 9, 2023
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