Through the encouragement of friends and his manager, Rocky agrees to a rematch against Apollo Creed--and that's when the fighting really begins. Meanwhile Rocky tries to adjust to the new found fame due to his first match and start a family with Adrienne.
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It must have been a staple of this period in film the sequel to a film picks up moments where the last one left off. Regardless, this film is no different. Instead, we’re seeing the “thanks for being a hero” storyline. Or at least, that’s what I like to call it. When someone so positive is brought to the forefront of culture for their abilities, that culture inevitably begins looking for their flaws. It’s the perfect story for a follow up for Rocky.
The Story: Rocky has gotten everything he ever wanted. Respect and admiration for his dedication and will power. Now, many people are trying to capitalize on his journey only to discover his many flaws, tearing down a hero that created himself. Stallone was brilliant in bringing to the forefront the pitfalls of fame and glory. Now, instead of Rocky wanting admiration of others, he would just rather be left alone with his wife and move on. But Apollo Creed, feeling humiliated with his match with Rocky wants another opportunity that Rocky’s drive was a fluke. The fame is calling him back and Rocky can’t help but feel forced back into it for the sake of his family. He can’t get a job to stabilize his life, so he resorts to fighting in the match for something other than the championship yet again, his family and his future.
Acting: This time around, the characters aren’t as “weird” as I said they were in the first Rocky. They’re surrounded by “regular people” and in turn, they react accordingly. Stallone was directing this go around, but for the most part of Rocky, Mickey and Paulie they already know what they’re characters are about. Talia Shire is much better in this film than she was the last. The admirable part of it is that she steps up the acting without breaking character. It works. And I applaud her for that.
Cinematography: There are a lot of amateur moments in this film with several “high rise” shots that seem very out of place. Otherwise the cinematography is on par with the first film.
Production Design: It’s not as creatively relevant as it is in the first film but it has it’s moments. It’s a lot of the same sets and locations with the same set direction.
Editing: If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. And that applies here. The editing style of the first film is maintained in this film. The pacing is created and makes for emotional arcs in every single scene.
Score: Again, these movies aren’t anything without the scores. The music is what seals the deal with the fight sequences. It makes them into epic battles of the spirit and everyone wants to see it.
Special Effects: Great. The cuts and bruises are believable and easily contrasted against the horribly fake ones that are actually shown during Rocky’s commercial shoot. Great work by the team by mocking their own profession in a film that was guaranteed to be seen by many.
In closing: Rocky II is a film that doesn’t surpass the original, but one that does match it to a pinpoint. Stallone demonstrates his ability to tell a story and does it damn well again. It doesn’t even feel like a sequel, it’s more of a continuation of the first film. Which, in this reviewers opinion, is what ever sequel should be.