I reviewed the original Rocky movie a few months back here on QDR and now wished I had waited a bit for the sake of continuity, but, perhaps it is for the best for the original movie to kind of exist on its own in a world where the sequels don’t have to exist as cannon. That said, if you’re looking for a blue print on how to produce a sequel this is it in my mind.
As most will recall the end of the first Rocky film saw beloved Italian Stallion Rocky Balboa lose a gut wrenching 15 round decision to champion Apollo Creed. While the first movie was actually based off a real Cinderella story (Stallone was even sued for it) this movie exits reality and goes straight into fantasy land where the down and out nobody Balboa gets a rematch, and of course, might just even be able to win the world title.
While this movie does go out into movie land with the story, compared to the even more cartoonish sequel this movie is quite grounded and gritty.
Talia Shire gets to come out of her shell more in this movie and plays a bigger role. Stallone of course is right in his wheelhouse with a character he would return to again and again throughout his career.
This movie is designed like a pro wrestling match. The good guy, or “babyface” gets a bit of a shine in the beginning with his performance in the first fight and then the wedding, but then he (in shades of Requiem for a Heavyweight) finds that his skills in the boxing ring don’t quite translate into anything else in the real world, which begins the long “heat” portion of the match where the odds stack up against him.
Then it all culminates in one of the best feel good moments in movie history. Anyone who doesn’t at least like the final few minutes of this film must bleed pure ice water.
Rocky II gets a four out of five: GREAT.