“Creed II” is fortunate to have a stellar cast that includes an exceptional Michael B Jordan as the title character, Sylvester Stallone (again as Rocky Balboa), Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad and even Dolph Lundgren back as Russian boxer Ivan Drago. It’s a cast with great chemistry, especially between Jordan and Thompson, rekindling what made their relationship so authentic in the first “Creed” film. I appreciate how all the characters genuinely care for one another without getting too schmaltzy. Nevertheless, that’s about all that works for this installment.

The problem with “Creed II” is that it is blatantly formulaic, almost to the point that I was getting drowsy. If not for the gentleman sitting next to me who could not get into a comfortable position, I might have slept through the whole film. The first hour is really a slog. Maybe this next door viewer was getting bored like me, and couldn’t fight his restlessness.

In the 2nd hour, after Creed gets beaten to a pulp mentally and physically by Drago’s gigantor of a son (am I really spoiling anything here?) does it pick up, because we are about to enter BEAST MODE where the staple training montages (this time in a desert where i guess sunburn and dehydration lead to exceptional athleticism) are about to begin, and Creed is gonna kick the Russian guy’s ass once and for all.

Hey! I didn’t give away the ending here. You’ve seen this movie before in “Rocky III,” “Rocky IV” and “Rocky 99 1/2.” So quit your cryin’.

That’s the thing with “Creed II.” It’s an exact replica blueprint of the “Rocky” franchise films before it. Stallone pulled up his saved script on Word, and simply changed a couple of names and pop culture references. Example: scratch out music by Survivor and insert modern age hip hop.

There’s nothing new here, except for maybe giving a little dimension to Ivan Drago as a one time heroic celebrity of a country that no longer exists and a people who no longer celebrate him. Now, he lives through the stamina and strength of his son, Viktor. Not bad writing for Drago. Just not enough material for him. Otherwise, again there’s nothing special here that you haven’t seen before.

Wait…scratch that…I gotta say I couldn’t keep my eyes off Michael B Jordan. This guy is a good actor, but man is he ripped. I mean not an ounce of fat on this guy. He’s practically an eighth wonder of the world. It’s great to see, but even that is not enough to see “Creed II” in theatres. Wait for Netflix and save 12 bucks.

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