A pleasant crowd-pleaser. Ryan Coogler, having gone on to bigger and bigger things with Black Panther, steps aside and lets relative newcomer Steven Caple, Jr. do the job of mixing the beats of Rocky III — losing your edge and finding it again — and Rocky IV — facing the deadly Russian menace — into a smooth groove for the son of Apollo Creed (Michael B. Jordan). (His mom may call him a grown man now and again, but this is very much a story about growing up: facing fears, taking responsibility, quitting the grandiose narcissism of youth, etc.) The result is better than might be expected, still heavy on the Instagram aphorisms (right down to a marriage proposal that includes the line “You’re the only person that I want to share my moments with”) and lacking something of the original’s innovative in-fight camerawork, but still managing to keep its pace and stick its moments. The Eye of the Tiger gets replaced by the Voice of the Tigress (sound, the dropping away of it, is a big theme here) as champ Creed gets drawn into a blood feud with the son of the guy who killed his dad. That guy is of course Dolph Lundgren, making the absolute most of his turn as a weatherbeaten warrior who never recovered from his Big Loss. With Tessa Thompson and Sylvester Stallone. (2018) — Matthew Lickona
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