this one’s better than the original. a lot of that is because of the direction and the growth of the characters. burgess meredith is given a bigger role and allowed to breathe more, and he thrives with the extra screen time. his speech in front of the projector is a classic. stallone, too, does a better job in the second installment of the series. i think a lot of the allure of his character can be attributed to his vulnerability. he’s a good husband and well aware of his “relaxed brain” and it’s this contrast of tough guy and vulnerable husband/person that makes him a sympathetic hero. paulie’s still a good character and adrian is given more depth in this one as well. we even see apollo creed developed more. we understand his quest for greatness and immortality in the eyes of his critics. his character is given a family life which also helps round him out. also, weathers does an even better job this time around at emulating the ali mold. adrian’s one word response in the hospital bed may be the best part of the entire series.
some of the scenes are admittedly cheesy, but i think that they work in spite of this fact. rocky running through the streets of philadelphia with children following him, for example, isn’t all that likely and only makes any sort of sense on the screen. yet we’re willing to go along with the poetic license because we like the character and understand the metaphor.