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Men and Their Kids
Creed II isn’t ready to surprise anyone with its familiar slew of montages, pumped up music, and haymaker punches. It’s Rocky. As this series continues though, the bonds break. Creed II leaves Philadelphia for the west coast. Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) establishes himself, completing his arc started in the first Creed. This is a series about identity, and everything comes down to conquering those personal conflicts. In Creed II, that conflict drifts to 30 years in the past, a story told with care to balance the absurdities of Rocky IV.
Video (4K UHD)
From a 2K digital source, the upscale here is a pleasing one. Consider the level of resolution and visible detail in the stadium interiors. Thousands of spectators (mostly digitally added) show the best possible sharpness. Excellent texture shows when in close, while various exteriors of Philly and LA soak up the available detail.
This is an image of absolute clarity. So little noise seeps in, it’s a wonder why more productions don’t aim for a similar result. Like looking through glass at production, there’s no impediment to this digital cinematography. Thank Warner’s encode for not introducing anomalies during the transfer to disc.
Careful shadows preserve detail while still producing gorgeous black levels. A key scene takes place outside of Rocky’s home, at night, with a burned out street light overhead. It’s carefully managed, finding a balance between total crush and perfect black. Note Creed II doesn’t embellish contrast through this Dolby Vision presentation. Aside from stadium lights, mood keeps things restrained and calm. It’s not a sequel pushing dynamic imagery, but natural and pure.
That goes for color too. Again, aside from the stadiums and their entertaining light shows, primaries fade to suit the intended tone. Flesh tones fare well, blending into Creed II’s reserved look. The style is attractive, well suited to the needs of this script. Note scenes in the Ukraine as Drago trains use a definite teal tint, contrasting the warmer images Stateside.
Creed II loses a lot of subtly in terms of color grading when on Blu-ray. While attractive with pumped up saturation, it takes things to a neon extreme. That’s apparent comparing the first Creed/Drago fight with the red/white/blue shorts and skin tones. Skin tones skew toward orange, and the gaudy color brightness looks like a failing. All tone is lost, left with a yellowed appearance. Something is amiss.
The rest is great, with beautiful clarity and detail. Texture is consistently high. A bit of crush is forgiven considering shadow density. An avoidance of banding or other compression issues deserves a head nod.
Stupidly defaulting to DTS-HD rather than Atmos (a commonality with Warner), the Atmos track sports some stellar stadium work. The way crowds swell, with specific jeers popping into the rears, sells the idea of being in that ring. Stereos split widely, both there and in gyms as fighters train. It’s careful enough to keep a line on individual punches; certain blows land in either channel depending on their visual position.
It’s a strong low-end too, managing some heavy beats from the soundtrack or from fighter intros. Punches toned down in artificiality since the days of Rocky IV, although the beefier shots still make the sub react with tight, powerful jolts. When a fighter hits the mat, that also elicits a heavy blast. Aggressive, when it needs to be.
Everything stays on the Blu-ray for this set. Three featurettes start, with Father and Sons (7:16) delving into the relationships between the stars, while Casting Victor (5:43) and The Women of Creed II (5:51) explain themselves by name.
It’s a shame The Rocky Legacy isn’t longer, because this 15-minute look back on the series – hosted by Dolph Lundgren – brings up the nostalgic feelings and delves into the underdog themes. Some 10-minutes of deleted scenes mark the disc’s finale, and one of them needed to stay, if only to complete a small point in Rocky’s life.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.
While unwilling to break expectations, Creed II still finds a convincing story of redemption, identity, and of course, lots of boxing.
User Review( votes)
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