Sunday, April 29, 2018
Even though he lost the boxing match against Apollo Creed by a single vote of the judges, Rocky Balboa cannot complain: the girl he loves, Adrian, accepted his marriage proposal, and with the money from the match, they bought a great new home. However, the money is quickly running out, as Rocky refuses to engage in boxing anymore since the match left him with an injured eye. He thus has to accept humiliating jobs, including the one of a janitor. Still, due to a mountain of hate mail from fans who think he was bribed to be too lenient towards Rocky, Apollo publicly challenges Rocky to a re-match, in order to show that he can knock out the Italian boxer. Rocky vehemently agrees, and is again trained by Mickey. Adrian gives birth. In the match, Rocky fights, and this time manages to win against Apollo.
Even though many were skeptical towards the prospect of a sequel, especially with him taking over on the front of a director, as well, Sylvester Stallone managed to prove himself when "Rocky II" turned into a surprisingly good film in which he succeeded to drain a few more moments of quality, before the film series would later sink into the sea of repetitiveness. The story is more or less a rehash of the 1st film, yet Stallone is still surprisingly effective when he plays his Rocky Balboa as a charming and humorous guy: upon being released from the hospital during winter, he walks Adrian into the Zoo and tries to propose her: "Adrian, I was wondering, like, what do you think you're doing for the next 40-50 years?" Adrian is perplexed and asks him to repeat the question, upon which he takes her earmuff off and asks her: "Will you marry me?" When she agrees, he joyfully cheers and even jokingly talks to the tiger in the cage ("Hey, we are getting married! Do they let you out during the weekends? I'll send you an invitation!"). After the wedding, Rocky and Adrian go to bed, and she says a loving sentence to him: "You'll never get tired of me?" These are probably the sweetest and most tender moments of the entire film series. Burgess Meredith is once again excellent in the dignified role of Rocky's mentor and trainer, Mickey, whose support goes way beyond the professional, and into the personal: there is a great little moment just before the boxing match, when he finds Rocky in the church and says a fantastic line ("If you wanna blow this thing, if you wanna blow it, then damn it, I'm gonna blow it with you. If you wanna stay here, I'll stay with ya."). The subplot involving Adrian falling into a coma is too melodramatic, whereas the narrative does feel slightly contrived into repeating a match with Apollo, yet the ending is electrifying and cathartic (especially when both Rocky and Apollo fall on the ground), making "Rocky 2" a rather worthy continuation of the original story.