I didn’t know the author was a 16-year old either! I thought he was eighteen when the book came out.
The original Rocky is an amazing low-budget flick. Shot on a little more than a million dollar budget, written in three days, it was a case of life imitating art. Or rather, a movie’s success imitating the plot.
The new Rocky Balboa is a return to the original. That’s a good thing. I haven’t seen ALL the Rocky sequels but I’ve seen enough. By Rocky V, they’ve hit rock bottom.
It’s not only me saying it, listen to Sly himself (during a recent interview):
I was very disappointed with the last film (“Rocky V’) and I want to leave people with a good feeling. I missed the mark. It haunted me for years.
In a Rocky documentary, Sly explained that in his original script for Rocky V he dies at the end. The studio refused. Fans of the original have wanted him dead for the last two movies (at least).
True to the original Rocky story, the movie opens with a vulnerable Rocky. Way past his prime, Rocky is now an owner of a deli and people come to listen to his “war” stories. He and his son, Rocky Jr., have been growing apart. (FYI: Adrian died of cancer in an previous installment).
The inciting incident is a virtual boxing match (on ESPN) that mixes boxers from different generations. They pit the reigning champion, Mason ‘The Line’ Dixon (Antonio Tarver), against Rocky Balboa. Rocky wins the virtual fight which raises the question: “Can he win in real life, despite the 30-year age gap?”.
I like movies that start with a question instead of a statement. Watching the virtual fight, Rocky realizes he misses the sport and wants to go back and do small, local fights. He’s not in for the win but in order to be back to something he’s good at. The doctor is sceptical about Rocky’s shape, so he retorts:
The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very rough, mean place… and no matter how tough you think you are, it’ll always bring you to your knees and keep you there, permanently… if you let it. You or nobody ain’t never gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about 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. If you know what you’re worth, go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit.
His registering for a license, however, puts him back into the spotlight and into a media storm. Pretty soon, Dixon’s people approach him for a recreating of the virtual fight. The build-up to the fight is predictable but I don’t mean it’s not fulfilling. The fight itself is more human than the fights in the sequels. In a way, it’s closer to the original Rocky.
At the end, Rocky dies. OK, I’m kiddin’. Rocky Balboa’s ending will remain firmly in the spoiler’s section. The best part about the ending is that according to Rocky’s production diary, they have shot not one, not two, but four endings. I’d love to get my hands on a collector’s DVD and see all four of them. Why not, Rambo came out with a collector’s DVD.
Blu-Ray is piggy-backing on Playstation 3 recent launch.
So far HD DVD leads the way with 130 titles released. Blu-ray is closely behind with 116. The titles to be released any moment are:
The Architect (Magnolia)
Bulletproof Monk (Fox)
A Christmas Story (Warner)
Flight of the Phoenix (Fox)
From Hell (Fox)
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Warner)
Rising Sun (Fox)
I’m a big SONY fan so I hope Blu-ray doesn’t turn out to be the new Beta Max.