Eye For Film >> Movies >> Rocky II (1979) Film Review
Reviewed by: Stephen Carty
Before the series descended into overblown cartoony-violence, where each time we got little more than a new invincible opponent and a string of back-to-back soft-rock-assisted training montages, Sly gives us a pretty good sequel. Directing as well as acting and writing (he really is the heart of this franchise), the inevitably victorious outcome might not be as satisfying as our hero just going the distance, but at least Rocky II is still credibly set (sort of) in the real world.
Following the epic title shot, Rocky Balboa (Stallone) is unsuccessfully trying to live a normal life away from boxing. Meanwhile, feeling humiliated that an unknown nearly beat him, World Heavyweight Champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) decides he wants a rematch. Despite both his beloved Adrian (Talia Shire) and trainer Mickey (Burgess Meredith) asking him not to, Rocky wants to step back inside the ring.
Starting literally minutes after the first, the story continues to unfold and develop, yet curiously it occasionally feels like we’re watching a remake. Sure, you can’t fault Stallone for sticking to the same formula he used for his deservedly Oscar-winning original, but at times there’s a nagging sense he’s merely retreading the same steps.
That being said, the subplot with Creed’s wounded pride demanding a rematch despite his trainer’s so-quotable advice (“I saw you beat that man like I never saw no man get beat before and the man kept coming after you”) lends a nice new dimension. Additionally, this time we get more of Weather’s mouthy champ and Meredith’s crabby coach (both worth every minute of screen time) while Rocky’s necessary fall from grace back into the gutter makes us root for the big-hearted lug every south paw-jabbing step of the way. Arguably, the time it takes to do this will seem a bit slow and grim to the impatient viewers (the same ones who somehow think III and IV are better movies…), but its all worth it for the moment Adrian inspires Rock to begin his training again (Mickey’s reaction is priceless).
Inevitably not as good as the first and perhaps guilty of redoing the same story over again, Rocky II is still a worthy second instalment that remains better that the next three movies – by a long way. Yo Adrian, Stallone kind of did it again.Reviewed on: 21 Oct 2009