Rocky II Reviews
The first movie felt more sensitive and subtle, focusing on Rocky's sweetness in juxtaposition to his physical strength. While the world is shown to view Rocky only through his weaknesses, by the end of the film you realize that these supposed 'weaknesses' (his honesty, his sweetness, his social awkwardness, his inarticulateness) are not only actually strengths, but they're also his virtues.
In comparison, Rocky II feels like the discarded alternative script for the initial movie- as if they wrote it, realized it wasn't clicking and then decided to rewrite it to the Rocky script we know and love. In this movie, Rocky now suddenly has sarcastic one liners and a sort of knowing-wink self-awareness that he originally lacked (in stark contrast to those around him!). They turn Adrian into a flat plot device just to hammer home some drama in case you were bored by Rocky's real-world issues of being unable to get a job and/or his lack of interest in fame and glory in comparison to his domestic satisfaction.
But Rocky was never in it for the glory, he just wanted to be taken seriously by his peers. Now that he achieved that after the first film, why not just focus more on his contentment with his newfound self confidence? Or, focus on the unjustness of his real-world issues of not being able to get a job because, despite his boxing achievements, he's still viewed as somehow lesser than the rest of the world. In there lies the more compelling movie- a movie about how those with disabilities and/or lower IQs are unfairly maligned in society. Unfortunately, while Rocky II definitely touches upon this theme, the movie choose the shallow way out by focusing on more contrived plot choices about fame, glory and the sport of boxing, therefore losing what made the original character so compelling.
Even the camerawork was bland this time around. PLUS they removed the wah-wah pedal from the theme song therefore de-70s-ing it aka bland-ifying it!!! (This is the worst part!)
I did enjoy Apollo's plot this time around, I almost wish they had spent more time on him. But the reason Apollo is so great in Rocky II is because they actually deepen your understanding of his character!
Look, in general this wasn't a -bad- film but in comparison to the first it's such a cop-out. If I had just seen this without seeing the first film I might have even thought it was fresh. But as a sequel it adds nothing to the series, and I'd argue it actually takes away from it by adding nothing to the characters/tweaking with them to make them more broadly 'digestible.' If this was television, it would have been a good follow up episode, but as a movie it fell flat for me.