Creed II (4K UHD Review)
2018 (March 5, 2019)
Steven Caple, Jr.
MGM/Warner/New Line/Chartoff-Winkler (Warner Bros.)
Film/Program Grade: A
Video Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A+
Extras Grade: B-
Creed II is a good sequel, and that’s all it needs to be. It doesn’t try to be better than the first film because director Steven Caple Jr. – an odd choice to follow the great Ryan Coogler, but this rookie held his own – as well as Sylvester Stallone (who co-wrote the screenplay), knew that trying to top a masterpiece – Creed – would be next to impossible. Creed is the second best in the Rocky Balboa franchise, and I will fight anyone who disagrees (note: must be shorter than 5’5’’ and weight less than 100 pounds)
Aldonis Creed (the excellent Michael B. Jordan) is now the world champion boxer. He’s proven to be more than just Apollo’s son and a one hit wonder. Life is good, but life never stays good, especially for Rocky, who’s suffered a colossal amount of loss (but always manages to stay humble and keep his head up. Respect.). Rocky’s harsh luck is a conduit to anyone close to him, and it soon bleeds into Creed’s life too.
This round, Creed is also fighting battles outside of the ring. His girlfriend B’s (Thor Ragnarok’s Tessa Thompson) hearing is coming close to an end – which is painful because her singing career is finally taking flight – and their newborn child may be deaf too due to her rapid hearing loss. To make things worse, out of the shadows comes an old foe, Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), who infamously killed Apollo Creed in the ring in Rocky IV.
Fast forward to 2018 and we learn Drago has been living in poverty and shame since losing to Rocky decades ago with his son Viktor (played by real-life boxer Florian ‘Big Nasty’ Munteanu), who is also a boxer like his good ole dad. Viktor is now the underdog, and these two see an opportunity: Fight Creed, win the title, and the Dragos will win respect back from their country (is boxing this serious in Russia?). This is a fight fans want, but it’s a frightening one: Viktor is bigger, badder, and tougher than Creed. And if history has anything to do with it, Creed won’t just be fighting to keep his title, he’ll be fighting to live another day.
Creed II was filmed in the ARRIRAW codec using ARRI Alexa Mini and XT cameras, with Panavision Primo and Zeiss Master Prime lenses in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The printed format is Digital Intermediate (finished at 2K), which makes it a knockout release in upsampled 4K. Detail and texturing are very good; there’s not a reference amount of detail here, but every bit of what’s in the DI is visible. Colors are robust and nuanced in HDR10 High Dynamic Range (it’s also available here in Dolby Vision, which I am not a fan of). Contrast is excellent with deep blacks and bright, natural highlights.
The real winner here is the Dolby Atmos surround sound. Depending on your audio system, watching Creed II feels like you’re sitting ringside watching as Creed and Drago slug it out; the crowd atmosphere and bone-crunching punches can be heard all around you. Bass is deep, dialogue is clear, and Ludwig Göransson’s score is staged with great fidelity. This is essentially a reference-quality audio mix, especially for a film like this. Additional audio options include English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Descriptive Audio (US and UK), and French and Latin Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Optional subtitles include English for the Hearing Impaired, French, Latin Spanish, Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish.
The 4K disc itself has no extras, but the package includes the film in 1080p on Blu-ray. It adds a handful featurettes that might please fans:
Fathers and Sons (7:16)
Casting Viktor Drago (5:43)
The Women of Creed II (5:51)
The Rocky Legacy (15:01)
Deleted Scenes (9:46)
Shazam! preview trailer (2:28)
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald preview trailer (3:26)
Fighting with My Family preview trailer (2:32)
The Rocky Legacy is the highlight, but it should be a feature-length film considering this is technically the 8th film in the Rocky Balboa franchise. Rocky’s story is a legacy, not a mere featurette. It’s pretty apparent movies don’t come with as many extra features as they did ten years ago, so they need to count. These are good. Not great, but good. The best of the rest is a collection of deleted scenes – nearly ten minutes worth, mostly character moments. The final one is a nice acknowledgment between these characters that longtime Rocky fans will appreciate. You also get a Digital code on a paper insert (but it’s not Movies Anywhere).
Creed II is an excellent sequel because it delivers unadulterated adrenaline, excitement, and fear. Warner’s 4K release offers the film in better-than-theatrical video quality and reference sound. If you’re a fan of the original Creed, (and you should be) or the Rocky franchise as a whole, this one is worth having in Ultra HD.
Editor’s Note: This review was originally posted on TheDigitalBits.