Saturday, April 18, 2015

Rocky II

It has been a crazy past couple of weeks so thus explains the lack of blogs past couple of weeks, and I may not achieve my quota by the end of the month. Regardless, I am back with my take on the sequel to the Oscar winner for Best Picture of 1976 with my take on 1979’s Rocky II (trailer).

This is my second viewing of Rocky II and I forgot how much transpired in the first half hour. The film kicks off with the riveting final rounds of the Balboa(Sylvester Stallone)/Creed(Carl Weathers) fight from the first film, and the sequel picks up immediately where the original left off with an ambulance taking both fighters to the hospital for recovery. Shortly after Rocky gets out of the hospital he proposes to Adrian (Talia Shire) and not too long after that they discover they are having a baby.

Rocky goes on a bit of a spending spree with his take of the gate of the big fight and splurges on fancy new clothes (though I was never a fan of the tiger emblazoned jacket in this film), car, house, the works. Eventually this catches up to Balboa and after he discovers he cannot act worth a lick in his endeavor in commercials. Rocky tries settling on a manual labor job, but shortly after getting laid off from that winds up at the bottom of the ladder cleaning up the gym for his old trainer, Mick (Burgess Meredith). To help make ends meet, Adrian goes back to work at the pet shop, and Rocky sells his car to a much slimmer Paulie (Burt Young). All of the last two paragraphs take place in the first half hour. It certainly did not feel that long, but it all just breezed by before I knew it.

Meanwhile, Apollo is furious at fan backlash in his disappointing split-decision win against an unknown underdog. He winds up going on a national PR tour calling Rocky out for a rematch so he can put him away for good in a couple rounds to show the first fight was a fluke. Finally, Balboa agrees to the fight and the two announce it in a hilarious press conference where Rocky shines with his dry humor. A lot of training takes place next with the illustrious chicken chase training to build Rocky’s speed, and eventually culminating in another epic montage set to another classic score from Bill Conti. The training montage is so incredibly cheesy this time around you cannot help but love it as Rocky runs up the stairs again, but this time with a swarm of little kids, along with children singing the chorus of the Rocky theme.

Rocky II ups its production values significantly from the first when it comes to the big fight at the end. It takes place at the historic Philadelphia Spectrum in Balboa’s hometown, and this time there is no fancy camera work to hide a small smattering of extras as they managed to pack it to the brim here. Like the last film, we have an incredible first couple of rounds to up the intensity, before getting a montage of rounds 3-14, before finally giving us the final round in its entirety with the climatic double collapse finish. This fight was super fun to watch, and definitely benefited from more camera angles and better lighting that the added production values helped procure, and even with the dramatic final moments of the fight that had me at the edge of my seat, I still oh so slightly prefer the first Creed/Balboa fight from the first film.

The same can be said overall to how I prefer the first Rocky over the sequel. Both are presented as serious sports films that both deliver big, but Rocky II ultimately is just a notch below the first. The movie pops out a little bit more on BluRay, but is not a must own in HD by any means, and unlike the first Rocky, this one has zero extra features whatsoever. This still is a fantastic film, and the first two along with Rocky Balboa, are my three top films of the franchise.

Past Rocky Blogs


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