Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Running Time: 120 mins
Rocky II is an American film and the sequel to Rocky. After the controversial outcome of his fight with Apollo Creed, Rocky Balboa sets out to settle down and build a life for himself with Adrian, but calls for a rematch from his previous opponent scupper his plans.
The legend that is Rocky is without doubt one of the greatest underdog stories ever on the big screen, but in my book, Rocky II is even better. A brilliant continuation of the story we began in the first film, this sequel is an insightful and understated drama that equally retains the same never-say-die spirit of its predecessor.
Far from following the usual sequel custom and just retelling the same story but ‘bigger’, Rocky II puts a lot of work into continuing the incredible story that the first film began to tell. The movie picks up right where the last film left off, starting brilliantly with a gripping account of the aftermath of Rocky and Apollo Creed’s legendary fight.
However, where Rocky II really impresses is in its dedication to telling the human story of Rocky Balboa. Thanks to Sylvester Stallone’s undying passion for the character, we follow Rocky as he sets out to make an honest living for himself and Adrian, complete with insightful and intimate emotional depth that makes this a truly touching watch throughout.
Commenting both on the reality of newfound fame and the desire to move on in life, Rocky II is at times even more thematically rich than its predecessor, building upon the classic underdog tale with a unique perspective on what happens after that big finish.
Yet while this film endeavours to show how the characters move on from the events of the first movie, it’s also pleasingly familiar, and ties in wonderfully to the classic style and structure of the original Rocky.
In that, the story does still build to a big fighting finish, it’s full of underdog spirit, and there’s even another great training montage. It might not be as iconic as the original, but when put in the context of the story it’s telling, Rocky II does a fantastic job at paying homage to what has come before it.
There are times when it can feel like certain characters don’t get the attention they deserve – particularly Adrian in the first half – however Stallone’s screenplay knows exactly what it’s doing, and cleverly brings characters into play at just the right time, for maximum emotional effect.
Overall, I was hugely impressed by Rocky II. A fantastic sequel to a classic underdog movie, the film builds upon its predecessor in gripping style, with understated and intimate drama, all the while thrilling with yet more enduring and crowd-pleasing spirit. So, that’s why I’m giving it an 8.0.