First Hit: For something that started in 1976 and having 7 previous films, it holds together well enough.
Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) is getting long in the tooth, still wears that funky round hat that makes his head a roundish funny shape, and is managing Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan). He managed Adonis in the last film as well.
As champion, Adonis is having a good life and decides to ask his longtime partner Bianca (Tessa Thompson) for her hand in marriage. What makes this set of scenes so good is that he asks Rocky how he asked Adrian, his now deceased wife, for her hand in marriage. For those who saw the Rocky series of films, we can always recall the way Rocky worked up his nerve to ask for her hand. It was hilarious then and it brought up a wonderful memory now.
Adonis’s father Apollo was killed by a Russian fighter called Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) and Rocky, in a fit of rage, fought Ivan and beat him. Ivan’s loss made him become a disrespected person in Russia. So much so that his wife Ludmilla (Brigitte Nielsen) left him for a high-level government official. Raising his son Viktor (Florian Munteanu) alone, he trains Viktor to fight to get the championship belt back and to make the name Drago great again.
Rocky doesn’t want Adonis to fight Viktor because he’d be doing it for the wrong reason. Ignoring Rocky’s advice Adonis fights Viktor.
The fight and boxing ring shots were very good. The story is way to telegraphed which takes away from the film. The nice touch is Rocky reconnecting with this son Robert and grandson Logan.
Stallone is strong as Rocky, a character that he created and enhanced over the years. I loved him bringing the bouncing ball back into a couple of the scenes. Jordan is excellent as Adonis. His softness with Bianca belies the way he makes a living. Thompson is very good as a hearing-impaired musician. Lundgren was very good reprising his role as Ivan. Munteanu was excellent as Ivan’s son Viktor. He showed a great sense of loyalty to his father and it came through during the film. Nielsen was fun to see and she still commands the camera with her powerful look. Phylicia Rashad reprised her role as Adonis mother and Rocky’s close friend. Juel Taylor and Sylvester Stallone wrote a good and predictable screenplay. Steven Caple Jr. did a good job of directing this predictable story with finesse.
Overall: I wasn’t enthralled with this version of the Rocky series.