Here it is — the end of Stallone Month. Sly isn’t in the lead role in this last film, but there isn’t a better set of bookends for this month than Rocky and Creed.
Creed, from 2015, is a spinoff of the successful Rocky series. In a surprising change, Sly did not pen the screenplay for this film. After having seen all the Rocky films, it’s clear that not only is Rocky Sly’s opus, it’s also his most personal character. The lovable meathead aspects of Rocky are pure invention, but all the motivational stuff — the pronouncements about hard work and not expecting any handouts — that’s all Sly. Rocky was the vehicle Sly used to share his worldview. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Creed”
Rocky V was supposed to be the last Rocky movie. In it, Rocky is robbed of all his money by an accountant, and he has to retire from boxing due to brain damage. His final fight, and there is always a final fight in a Rocky flick, took place on the streets in front of Mickey’s gym, where it all began. It was meant to wrap the story of Rocky up with a nice little bow. In that, the film did its job, even though the mediocre quality of the film left some fans feeling a little let down. But, by the mid-2000s, Sylvester Stallone was feeling nostalgic, and along came another sequel, sixteen years after the last. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Rocky Balboa”
If Rocky IV is peak Rocky, then Rocky V is the story’s nadir. Whereas Rocky II was but pale imitation of the first film, Rocky V is caricature, its characters in many ways reduced to cartoon versions of those with which we have grown familiar. Mostly this is down to Sylvester Stallone. He was the one who ditched Rocky’s lovable lunkhead persona in the previous two films. But now he’s back, and poor. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Rocky V”
This film is, without a doubt, peak Rocky. Gone is the working class Joe with the wicked left. In his place is a warrior for not just the American way, but for the Reagan era. It’s a stunning character transition, and also makes for spectacle of the highest order. Just sit back and say “wow” whenever it feels appropriate. But first, viewers must endure Paulie’s birthday party scene. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Rocky IV”
It’s time to confront the truth, all you Rocky revisionists out there. Rocky Balboa was not a great fighter. He was raw and explosive, with a head hard enough to last against a champion who didn’t take him seriously. As Apollo Creed himself said to Rocky, “You fight great, but I’m a great fighter.” Also, great fighters don’t get KO’d in the 2nd round. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Rocky III”
Hollywood legend is replete with stories of Sylvester Stallone’s efforts to get Rocky made. Part of the fable is that Sly wanted to direct, but eventually had to agree to hand directorial duties over to someone with experience. Sly kept the starring role and Rocky was his screenplay, but John G. Avildsen sat in the director’s chair. The resulting film won Best Picture and Director, plus Best Film Editing, at the Academy Awards. When it came time for a sequel, however, Sly used the capital he had earned to secure the directing gig in addition to starring and screenwriting roles, after Avildsen declined to direct due to a scheduling conflict. The result is a film identical in theme, plot, location, and stars to Rocky, but which is inferior in execution. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Rocky II, or, Mediocre Rocky”
For no other reason than that I feel like it, I hereby declare this to be Sylvester Stallone Month here at Missile Test. For the next 31 days, this site will feature reviews of Sylvester Stallone films, from the early days of his career into the 2010s. I did this a few years back with Arnold Schwarzenegger because, not only do I like his films, I found myself fascinated with the progression of his career. I have a similar regard for Sly. Taken at face value, he’s just another action film star from the 1980s. But pay attention to the credits in his films, and one will find that he wrote and directed many of the films in which he appears. Sylvester Stallone is a filmmaker, and one who has been very successful in plotting his own course through Hollywood. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Rocky”