I don’t think I’m expecting to much for “Rocky Balboa” to follow logic.

17 Sep

For all the rips and slams that Sylvestor Stallone rightfully gets, we seem to forget that the man actually wrote and Oscar Winning Screenplay.  Yeah, that mumbling mess of a fighter is played by an actor who fought tooth and nail to get the starring role of the screenplay he wrote.  And yeah, ROCKY was pretty incredible.  So good, that almost every underdog story made into a film today is based on it.

For the past several years, Stallone had been relegated to remakes until he created a new franchise, THE EXPENDABLES, featuring a bunch of has beens.  Before the EXPENDABLES, we got GET CARTER, RAMBO, and ROCKY BALBOA.  Jokingly, you might expect a STOP OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT remake, but I think we all honestly could see COBRA getting a sequel soon.  Nonetheless, that’s the thing that separates Stallone from every other action star past and present.  He writes.  He writes very good stories and even if they’re not all Oscar quality, you do have to expect the man’s ability with the pen.

So, I was watching ROCKY BALBOA last night for the first time.  Yeah, despite my affection for his stories, I took a little time getting around to watching the 60 year old actor (in 2006) climbing into the ring as our favorite underdog.  Right there you gotta respect him as a writer.  Six films if I’m counting right and he always wins (or ties) and is always the underdog.  What boxing champion has ever held a championship belt multiple times and always, always, always been the underdog?

ROCKY BALBOA is a decent movie.  It’s not great, but it does have some Stallone gems in there.  In particular, the one speech about never giving up to his son:

  • Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!

“It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward.”  That’s the line the pulled people into the theaters.  It’s an incredible line.  The whole speech is worthy as an audition speech for any actor with the stones to try to pull it off.  The entire filmed isn’t full of beauty like that, but there’s enough to remind you that this guy knows what he’s doing.  And that is why I don’t think I’m expecting too much of Stallone and ROCKY BALBOA.

His motivation in film number six, living up to the ideals of his late wife, Adrian.  Sort of.  It’s capturing previous glory that reminds him of the past and the love of his wife and all the good things that came before.  Her death lit a fire in his belly that must be extinguished and only giving his all in the squared circle will do that.  Obviously his decision on getting into the ring at 60 with the current heavy weight champion (Played by the then Heavy Weight Champion and surprisingly decent actor, Antonio Tarver) takes some convincing.  He risked brain damage to fight 20 years ago, so a fight at 60 seems risky.  In comes his new “love interest.”  She helps push him into following his heart and doing what he wants to do.  He has to honor the passions that burn inside him.

So she encourages the 60 year, brain damaged fighter to follow his desire.  A desire and passion he’s following out of memory and love for his dead wife.  Wait a second.  Didn’t Adrian fight to keep Rocky out of the ring in almost every one of the films?  Wasn’t she always about protecting him?  Sure, she always watched the fight on TV or in the audience, but she never, ever encouraged him to do it.  Not that I recall.  So, how can a major theme of the most recent film completely contradict a fundamentally part of Adrian’s role from every previous film?  Stallone didn’t miss that.  He knew what he was writing.  Maybe his new girl was hoping for brain damage and complete access to the champs’ money, but that story isn’t really told.  So, I’m left wondering why?  Why Stallone?  There seems like there might’ve been other ways to get Rocky back into the ring and not disrespect his dead wife.  That’s all I’m saying.  Or writing.  I just expected more.

All that being said, the big fight had me on the edge of my seat.  Not that I didn’t really expect the outcome, but I enjoyed it.  I was engaged.  At midnight and exhausted, the movie pulled me in.  RAMBO was a better remake for me, but Mr. Stallone, I am a fan.  I will be there in the theater for EXPENDABLES 2 and if you happen to go for ROCKY 7.  So, I enjoyed it and I think a lot of your writing and that’s why I expected more.

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