Let's Get Ready To Rumble
After the success of the original "Rocky" movie, it was no surprise that a sequel was made, not one but in fact a whole series of them. Unfortunately, when they decided to make "Rocky II", they stuck to the same formula, pretty much the same script and in all reality it feels like little more than a repeat of "Rocky" rather than a new movie.
Following his close defeat to Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers - Happy Gilmore), Rocky (Sylvester Stallone - Driven) decides to retire from the ring and live a peaceful life with Adrian (Talia Shire) by his side as the advertising agencies throw money at him to be their show pony. But the peaceful life doesn't suit Rocky and with Apollo becoming enraged by all the criticism he receives for being taken all the way by an unknown a rematch is soon arranged.
"Rocky II" starts of with a brief recap of the ending of "Rocky", where we see an edited version of the final fight, which Apollo wins on a point's decision. From there on the film has three main threads which run sequentially in a very smooth process. The initial thread revolves around Rocky's new found celebrity status and wealth, due to the fact that he nearly beat Apollo Creed. But due to a speech and reading problem, his bank ability as the front for TV commercials soon dwindles and so does his new found wealth as they quickly waste it on extravagant living. What is particularly good about this thread is that although it is used in a world which may be miles away from us, it mirrors reality in the way that becoming affluent for the first time can lead to reckless spending and a quick fall from grace as your circumstances change.
The initial thread leads nicely into the second thread, where after being steadily pressured into returning to the ring by Apollo Creed, Rocky buckles even though he knows it is against his wife's wishes. This leads to Rocky's preparations for the rematch being disturbed due to his lack of focus as he deals with not only the tension it causes between him and his wife, but also his conscience as he knows he needs her on his side. On the flipside of this, we see Adrian realise that her lack of support is actually putting Rocky's life at risk. This all culminated with the birth of their son and Adrian telling Rocky to do it. To be honest, although this side of the story is good, it is never really explored to its full extent and feels like it is there as only a filler leading up to the final fight sequence.
The third and final thread to "Rocky II" is the most predictable, where we watch a now focussed Rocky go through his training process, culminating with the big rematch against Apollo. Although highly predictable, it is still great entertainment as we watch some slightly ridiculous training methods, and an unbelievable run through the streets where Rocky is followed around by hoards of children, as if he was some sort of pied piper.
Although these are the major threads which make up "Rocky II", there are several minor threads which help to pad out the story line a bit, these include the wedding of Rocky and Adrian, as well as Rocky's brother-in-law, Paulie, becoming jealous of Rocky's new found fame and success.
The biggest problem with "Rocky II", is that although it is still an entertaining movie, it doesn't actually do anything new, and doesn't really move the story on enough to make it really good. Part of this maybe due to the fact that Sylvester Stallone took over the directional duties for this, and as it was only his second movie as a director he may have used numerous elements from the first which were a success, in the hope that they would do the same again.
There is another reason why "Rocky II" suffers, as although the entire original cast return and reprise their roles to the same standard, there are no new characters introduced which help add something new to the film. It wouldn't have been so bad it the had given some of the minor characters bigger roles, but sadly they didn't and in reality I would estimate Sylvester Stallone gets a whopping 95% of the screen time.
What is very good is the transition we see in Rocky and Adrian as the new found fame and wealth makes them far more confident, but when it all suddenly disappears their more humble and self-conscience side returns.
Although I cannot really criticise any performances, as they were all up to the same standard as the first Rocky film, "Rocky II" lacks the freshness and you can begin to predict what a characters reactions will be, as if they are one of your family.
This is a huge problem in "Rocky II", as not only has Stallone written and starred in the movie, he has also directed it. Not that he has done an absolute dire job, but in the hands of a more established director, maybe the film would have risen from being just average. Part of the trouble is that he has made some of the scenes so unrealistic, such as the already mentioned Pied Piper run.
Like the first "Rocky" movie the soundtrack to the film is quite unmemorable, other than the use of "Rocky's theme" and "Take Me Back" there are not many noticeable musical pieces. It wasn't until later on in the Rocky series did we get "Eye of the Tiger" thrown upon us.
What this all boils down to is that despite all the numerous things which are wrong with "Rocky II", I still enjoy it and although it is by no means the best one out of the entire series, it is still an important part of the whole Rocky story.
Tags: Boxing Movies