Coming three years after the original hit Rocky, Sylvester Stallone returned to his Oscar-nominated role in this sequel, which was even more of a success. The original Rocky is widely considered one of the greatest sports films ever, but as inspiring as it was, Rocky himself was denied the victory. He deserved another chance, and this film gave it to him in outstanding style.
Stallone himself directed this one, as well as Rocky III and IV, and he had the formula down from the start. We all know the basics: Rocky Balboa must fight his way up to a climactic fight to take down an intimidating foe. Yet the magic of Stallone’s performance is in the details, such as Rocky’s clumsy but endearing manner of speaking and proposing marriage, his desire to provide for his family, his faithful vigil at his sick wife’s bedside, and his request for a pre-fight blessing from his parish priest. Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed remains a formidable foe for Rocky, and his motivations for a rematch are sympathetic, even as he goads and insults Rocky into fighting again. Burgess Meredith and Talia Shire also excel as Mickey and Adrian, though I wish the latter looked a little less awkward and uncomfortable in her interactions with Rocky.
The training sequence, again set to the iconic Rocky theme, is as utterly entertaining as all of them, and its final scene, with Rocky climbing the art museum’s steps along with half of Philadelphia, is probably the best of them all. Rocky II is as predictable as all the Rocky films, but it continues the story of its immortal characters with just the right amount of drama, without resorting to killing off characters like the next two sequels did. It’s a crowd-pleasing knockout of a film sure to leave every viewer smiling by the end.
Best line: (a reporter, after the initial fight) “Rocky, do you think you have brain damage?” (Rocky) “I don’t see any.”Artistry: 8 Characters/Actors: 9 Entertainment: 8 Visual Effects: N/A Originality: 6 Watchability: 8 TOTAL: 39 out of 60
Next: #227 – The Legend of Zorro
© 2014 S. G. Liput
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