Rocky V (1990)

I’m Not Gonna Knock You Down This Time.  I’m Gonna Put You Through the Street!

Over the past few days, I’ve watched a fantastic franchise crumble and fall over the course of four movies.  The first Rocky movie was fantastic, and the next movies just kept doing the same thing over and over again.  You get the feeling that Stallone was out of original ideas because he felt content to use the same formula with only the slightest changes to make more and more of these things until they eventually lost sight of what made them good in the first place.  For the fifth movie, Stallone seemed intent to recapture what had been lost by taking the character back home, bringing back the original director, and trying to get a fresh start.  Let’s see how that worked out for him in my review of Rocky V, written by Sylvester Stallone, directed by John G. Avildsen, and starring Sylvester Stallone, Tommy Morrison, Talia Shire, Sage Stallone, Burt Young, Burgess Meredith, Richard Gant, Tony Burton, Deila Sheppard, and Michael Williams.

After his victory over Ivan Drago, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) has started noticing that something is wrong.  His hands are shaking and he’s unable to make them stop.  His wife, Adrian (Talia Shire), pleads with him to see a doctor, but he is reluctant.  He returns home to his son, Robert (Sage Stallone), and announces his intent to retire at a press conference.  The conference is interrupted by Don King clone George Washington Duke (Richard Gant) who tries to goad Rocky into fighting his fighter, Union Caine (Michael Williams).  Rocky wants to take the fight, but Adrian is against it.  They go to see a doctor who tells Rocky that he couldn’t get approved to fight anyway because of his extensive brain damage.  They also find that Paulie (Burt Young) caused them to sign over power of attorney to Rocky’s accountant, who promptly ruined Balboa financially.  The Balboa family sells most of their belongings and moves back to their old neighborhood.  Rocky reopens the boxing gym of his late trainer, Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith) and starts training boxers.  One such boxer is Tommy Gunn (Tommy Morrison), who proves to be a really good boxer, but perhaps an overly aggressive one.  Rocky takes Tommy in, becoming his manager and letting him sleep in the Balboa’s basement.  But Duke comes back into the picture, and will do whatever it takes to get Rocky to fight again.

Same old, same old, but worse.  Stallone tries to recapture the greatness of Rocky one by going back home, but it’s still just the same formula.  Again Rocky hits rock bottom and must mount a comeback.  At first, he does it vicariously through Tommy Gunn, but then makes a comeback himself that barely makes any sense.  Adrian doesn’t let Rocky fight Union Caine or Tommy Gunn in the ring, wearing gloves and with a referee watching, but Rocky decides it would work out best for everyone to get into a bare knuckle brawl with Gunn to wrap up the movie.  A bigger part of this movie is Rocky’s relationship with his family, but no real emotion is drawn from this well.  Rocky is more than happy to ignore his son and his son’s problems in his new school in favor of Tommy, but I guess you have to give him a pass on that because he’s supposedly beaten retarded in this movie.  Duke’s motivations are never really made that clear either.  I know he’s looking for a payday off of getting Rocky back into the ring, but I’m pretty sure the world would move on and you’d be able to make just as much money taking your fighter and making him prove himself against other good fighters.  But this guy is so persistent in trying to get a fighter that was retired for medical reasons back.  Rocky couldn’t even get sanctioned to fight if he wanted to!  Move the fuck on, man!  In trying to go back to his roots, Stallone only really showed us that he doesn’t actually have it in him anymore, just like Rocky.  Apparently, the initial idea for this movie was to have Rocky get killed in the street brawl with Tommy at the end of the movie, dying in Adrian’s arms in much the same way that Apollo died in Adrian’s arms.  This would have elevated the movie some, in my opinion, and made the course of the story feel better, but ultimately less satisfying.  We don’t want to see Rocky die like that, but we also don’t want him to go out in a movie like Rocky V.

The performances took a pretty big step down for this movie.  Sylvester Stallone actually did a good job, though.  Strangely, in order to show that his character was brain damaged, he went back to acting like he did in the first two movies.  One can only assume that he was touched by Jesus for the third movie, and then had that reversed when he was touched by a gigantic Russian in the fourth.  Talia Shire didn’t really make that big of an impact on me in this movie, and Burt Young went back to being an asshole.  The two newest additions hurt the movie the most.  First, Sage Stallone as Rocky’s son.  He just annoyed the piss out of me for the whole movie, and was never really able to convey any sort of emotion for the parts where he was supposed to.  He was just a twerpy little whiny shit that tried to turn into a bad boy when daddy was ignoring him.  Tommy Morrison was the worst decision Stallone made in these movies.  At some point (probably around Rocky III), Stallone decided that the ability to act was secondary to their ability to look like they were boxing.  And Morrison was required to do a lot of acting in this movie, like freaking out and being conflicted about having some loyalty to Rocky for his training, but also resenting being in his shadow the whole time.  Instead of being a conflicted character that we might actually care about, he just comes off as a giant douchebag and the rest of the movie is just wasting our time until someone kicked his ass.  And the fact that he sometimes talked like he had no idea what he was saying never really helps either.  I guess the boxing background does make him able to look pretty good in the fights, but if you want to recapture the glory of the first Rocky you need to realize that the audience has the ability to watch boxing whenever they want.  Movies should have actors in them.

Rocky V makes itself the worst movie in the Rocky franchise by following the same formula that every other Rocky has followed thus far, but not being nearly as satisfying as its predecessors.  It’s the obvious place for the character to go, and the obvious story to go along with it.  Stallone puts on a pretty good performance for the movie, but his son Sage and the new addition of Morrison drag it down too much to come back from.  This is probably the only Rocky movie that I would say is a complete waste of your time to watch.  Will Rocky Balboa be able to make a satisfying comeback in the final movie, or is it too far gone?  We’ll find out tomorrow.  For today, Rocky V gets “This ain’t no pie eating contest” out of “The man fought wars in the ring!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Rocky (1976)

You’re Gonna Eat Lightnin’ and You’re Gonna Crap Thunder!

Dani really likes to get the most out of her reviews.  So far, she’s only made two recommendations, but those two recommendations were for 6 movies a piece.  Thankfully, I had already reviewed the first 6, but the second request starts us off on a brand new sextology.  Giggle.  I would call the first movie in this series one of the best movies of all time, and the ensuing sequels spiraled pretty quickly down the drain, allowing part four to have some campy charm, and not bringing it back to quality until years later in the sixth movie.  Thankfully, today we’re talking about the best of the sextology.  Unfortunately, that means I’ll have to do the next five.  Today’s movie is Rocky, written by Sylvester Stallone, directed by John G. Avildsen, and starring Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, Burt Young, Joe Spinell, Tony Burton, Joe Frazier, and Frank Stallone.  HEY, BABY DANI!!!

Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) is a mediocre boxer that highlights as a debt collector for Anthony Gazzo (Joe Spinell).  He lives in Philadelphia and is a generally good guy who occasionally stalks the quiet, homely pet store clerk named Adrian Pennino (Talia Shire), sister to his friend Paulie (Burt Young).  Rocky’s life changes when the opponent of the undefeated heavyweight champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) gets injured, leaving Creed to figure out something else for his New Year’s Day Bicentennial fight.  He comes up with the idea to give a shot at the title to the unlikeliest of contenders.  Rocky Balboa is picked because Creed decides he’s the pinnacle of Americanism due to his nickname “The Italian Stallion.”  …Okay!  I guess that makes sense.  Either way, Rocky’s gonna go through with it.  The owner of the gym he trains at, ex-bantamweight fighter Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith), becomes Rocky’s manager.

This movie makes me sad.  Not because of the quality of the movie; it’s actually really good and still totally holds up.  And it’s also not because of the material, because it kind of has a happy ending.  What makes me sad is that I know there are some people (mostly women) that refuse to watch this movie and it’s sequels because they have an idea of what the movie is that isn’t actually true.  I would assume that they think the movie is just a boxing movie as the sequels became.  It’s true that this is a boxing movie, and a really great example of the underdog overcoming expectations and triumphing, but this is actually a secondary plot in the movie.  Another big plot in the movie is actually a love story.  In fact, the climax of the movie is not the outcome of Rocky’s battle with Apollo Creed, it’s Adrian and Rocky confessing their love for each other.  Women should be all over that stuff!  I would say they do beat us over the head a little bit with how good of a guy Rocky is in this movie.  He helps drunks off the sidewalk, he goes against his bosses orders when it comes to hurting people that owe him money, he gives inspirational speeches to ne’er-do-well children, and is crushing on the homely girl instead of some hot bimbo.  The first time he kisses Adrian is a little bit on the rapey side, but she digs him later so that’s her problem.  Another thing that makes me mad about women not wanting to give this movie a chance is that this thing was nominated for 9 Academy Awards, winning three of them, for things like Best Picture (won), Best Director (won), and nominations for Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Original Screenplay.  I’m not just arguing for a movie that I like, this is a movie that makes it into most top 100 films of all time lists.  Bitches, y’all need to get over the boxing and watch this movie.  I’m a poor excuse for a man, and have admitted it on numerous occasions.  I hate the greater majority of all sports, and am not particularly a fan of boxing, but I still love this movie.  This movie can’t be faulted for it because it’s the first in the series, but you can pay attention to the basic formula of the movie and have a good idea of how the remaining movies will turn out.  Rocky will probably be an underdog, he’ll get mopey about it for a little while, then he’ll train super hard in a low tech kind of way, and then he’ll at least perform beyond expectations, if not win.  That’s a basic plot summary of all of the Rocky movies.  But this is the first one, so it can’t be blamed.

I felt like all of the performances in this movie were very real, but a few of them were still irritating.  This movie makes me wonder why Sylvester Stallone doesn’t act anymore.  I know he still shows up in movies, but he left actual acting by the wayside.  His performance in this movie was really good and seemed very real, but he got irritating over the course of the movie.  He just wouldn’t shut up at times in this movie.  Like when he was ice skating with Adrian.  It might have been his character’s nerves, but his mouth just kept letting things spill out of it.  Even with that, he was very good in this movie.  Talia Shire was also pretty good, but didn’t have to do a lot.  Her character was realistic, but was also really quiet and reserved, allowing her to sort of coast in the movie.  Carl Weathers was over the top and charismatic for the scenes when he was there, but he didn’t have that much screen time that didn’t involve him punching Rocky in the face.  Burt Young was also very realistic in this movie, but he was also a drunken asshole.  I don’t know how this guy makes it through all the movies.  If I were Rocky, I’d have beaten him to death pretty early in the first movie.  I would say that the hands down best performance in this movie was Burgess Meredith.  He was real and grizzled and angry, mostly only speaking in gravelly yells.  But he also has one great scene of great vulnerability as he goes to basically beg Rocky to let him be his manager.  Just fantastic.

Women-folk, you need to get over the fact that there is boxing in this movie and watch it.  It’s a fantastic underdog story and a good love story mixed in there as well.  It’s much more about the relationships and how they change with this fight than about the fight itself.  But it’s also a pretty good boxing movie as well.  The performances in the movie are really good and they feel like real people, so much so that a few of them are irritating, but they work for the movie.  I think this movie needs to be watched, should be in any respectable DVD collection, and would easily make it into a list of my favorite movies of all time.  Get to watching this movie.  And come back in the next couple of days to find out which (if any) of the other ones you should watch.  For today, Rocky gets “He doesn’t know it’s a damn show!  He thinks it’s a damn fight!” out of “ADRIAN!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.