Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Stallone Classic - Rocky II

After watching Rocky II tonight, I'm appreciating all the little things about the film that make it so memorable and timeless.  Sylvester Stallone gives us a hero who stays true to his roots and continues to inspire us to overcome obstacles, both inward and outward, and achieve success in life.

In the movie you have one of the best character actors ever in Burgess Meredith, giving an Academy Award nominee performance as a trainer.  There's the actor who played Rocky's brother-in-law Paulie, with his scruffy sight and gruff sound.  But again, it was the littler things that made us all cheer for this Rocky sequel.

The emotional piano soundtrack seething into the almost torturous scenes always at the right time and with just the right touch. The Piano becomes a soothing character in the movie, that's how strong its presence is.  It accompanies scenes of love and affection, then later gives way to the harsher, triumphant brass horns rendition of "Gonna Fly Now" by Bill Conti. 

The greasy underworld character hints to the darker side of the city of brotherly love while Rock's meat packing co-workers and  neighborhood street lifers season the movie with that tough yet together Philly flavor. The movie has a pace that keeps any viewer on edge anticipating the clashing climax with the brash boxing champion Apollo Creed, played superbly by Carl Weathers, a former Oakland Raider.  

While this is a boxing movie with a comeback theme, at the heart of it lies a love story pulling at the heart strings and making us choke up just a bit every time we watch it.  Rocky's love and new bride Adrienne is the little cog that shifts the gears of this movie.  Adrienne, played by Talia Shire, is the driving force behind why and when Rocky decides to fight against the recommendation of doctors.  She also helps define the man's humanity, because without Adrienne, Rocky would come across as just another pug amateur boxer, more brawn than brain, driven by a childish hunger and fiendish need to overcome his handicaps and achieve greatness in the ring; all for selfish reasons.

Rocky is a man made from the ol' skool blue collar mold of supporting his wife and family by the sweat of his brow.  His pride and determination to do just that is what makes Rocky II a film that carries huge cultural meaning for all underdogs regardless of race, color or ethnicity.  It shares that thing about us men that women sometimes fail or forget to realize; being a man means there are times in life where you must step up to the threatening challenges that life brings and defend your place and that of your God, Family & Country. 

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