“Creed II” (MGM)

Sylvester Stallone, Wood Harris, Michael B. Jordan and Jacob Duran star in a scene from the movie "Creed II." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/MGM)

By Catholic News Service

Viewers will know what to expect from this extension of the “Rocky” franchise long before they buy a ticket. Yet the tried and true, against-the-odds formula still works somehow.

Early on in this chapter of the saga, the boxer of the title (Michael B. Jordan), with the help of his hard-driving trainer (Sylvester Stallone), becomes world heavyweight champion. He also proposes to his live-in girlfriend (Tessa Thompson), a singer who suffers from hearing loss. But the rise of a rival (Florian Munteanu) he feels compelled to take on sets up an emotionally fraught match since the up-and-comer is the son of the Russian fighter (Dolph Lundgren) whose blows killed the champ’s dad in 1985’s “Rocky IV.”

Working from a script Stallone co-wrote with Juel Taylor, director Steven Caple Jr. handles themes of disability, family estrangement and good sportsmanship with dexterity and manages to instill suspense into this sequel to 2015’s “Creed,” the seventh successor to Stallone’s 1976 original. Possibly acceptable for mature teens.

Some intense physical violence, premarital cohabitation, about a dozen crude and at least one crass term. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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