The Rocky Saga Round III

DING! DING! Round III.

Everyone, including Sylvester Stallone believed Rocky Balboa was the last film in the series and it ended perfectly with Rocky (and Stallone) saying a final goodbye to his fans.

But I guess you just can’t keep a great character down as Rocky is back in Creed.
Creed is not technically considered a true sequel to the Rocky franchise, but more of a spin off instead, a kind of passing the torch film if you will.
Now I have personally avoided as much as I can with this film as I want it to be a surprise. I watched the first trailer for the film and I know the synopsis. But I’ve left it at that.

So what is there to know about Creed?

Creed

Creed: Written by and directed by Ryan Coogler (no Sylvester Stallone for the first time in the series) picks up after the events of Rocky Balboa. Rocky is still running the restaurant, Adrian’s, when he gets a visit from a stranger.
A young boxer comes to Rocky and asks if he would train him. That young boxer is. Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) the son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s former rival and friend. Adonis was born after Apollo died so never knew his father.
Adonis is a fighter with so much spirit and passion, coupled with the blood of his father running through his veins and the up most respect for Rocky himself.

Rocky eventually agrees to help train Adonis and…that’s as much as I know about the film.

But from what I have seen, I’m really looking forward to it. It seems to be carrying on from the last film with its more grounded in reality approach and more character focused.
I have heard some rumours about the film from Rocky dying to a cameo from the man that killed Apollo, Drago. But rumours are rumours.

I have glanced at a few reviews and so far it is getting praised a lot. Sounds like its a good film.

I am looking forward to seeing this film myself and if successful, it could even become its own franchise.
In 30 years from now, we could be watching Creed VII.

Creed 2

Anyway, that is yer actual Rocky Saga right there all six (or seven) films summarised.
But what do I think of them and the series as a whole?

collection

The Rocky Saga: For me, there are plenty of ups and downs throughout the series. There are some genuinely heartbreaking moments and there are some downright stupid moments.

But as a whole collection, I love it. Even if boxing is not your thing there is still a whole lot to enjoy here as boxing is never the main focus of the films. Its the characters, the relationships and the stories that are always at the forefront. Boxing is just the backdrop the films take place against.

The fact that the soundtrack is pretty amazing helps to.
If you are somebody who had trouble getting up in the morning. Change the alarm on you phone to the main Rocky theme or Eye Of The Tiger, I guarantee you’ll hop out of bed thinking you can take on the world.

A great series of films that, despite more than a few times when it all gets silly, provides a great bit of storytelling and give us one of the most charming and endearing characters ever caught on film with Rocky.

So what do I think of each of the films?

Rocky: It’s a simple story but told really well. It’s a basic underdog tale that had been done to death. Yet this version seems quite refreshing.

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky is believable and also shows that Stallone can write and act. The supporting cast are also golden.
Rocky did win 3 Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Film Editing. As well as being nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Sylvester Stallone), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Talia Shire), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Burgess Meredith and Burt Young), Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Sylvester Stallone) as well as Best Sound and Best Music.
Brilliant film and for me, the best of the lot.

Rocky II: Was there a need for a sequel? Not really, the first film is one that stands on its own. But we got a sequel (several in fact) and for the most part I really enjoy this one.

However, there is one major thing that bugs me about this film. That is how stupid Rocky is made out to be. Now granted, Rocky had never been the sharpest knife in the draw. But he was never “stupid”.

Yet in this film (to paraphrase another film) they go full retard. Rocky can’t read…since when? He managed perfectly fine in the first film. All the jokes shoehorned in to play on how stupid Rocky is, like the condominium thing. The fact Rocky blows all his money on fast cars and a nice jacket, etc.
He is just a complete imbecile in this one.

Again Rocky was never a mastermind…but he was still smart, he always had a good head on his shoulders. He was never dumb, yet that is how he is portrayed in this film.
If they ever made an Airplane! style parody of Rocky, this is how the character would be portrayed, directly from this film as the character almost seems like a parody anyway.

Good sequel, but the way they dumbed down Rocky as a character was annoying.

Rocky III: I really enjoy this one more than Rocky II for two main reasons.

1) Rocky is not a complete moron any more.
2) Mr.T.

I love Clubber Lang, by far my favourite Rocky villain. Everything he does is pure awesome. His put downs and insults, the character is just so alive. This film is also where “I pity the fool” comes from.
This film launched the career of Mr.T and it was this role that landed him a part on The-A-Team TV show.

Mickey’s death is quite heartbreaking and the whole idea of Rocky being blinded by his own celebrity status was an interesting dynamic as was bringing in Apollo as Rocky’s trainer. Giving some insight and building on their friendship and respect they have for each other.

Good sequel and great extension of the characters.

Rocky IV: Okay, now things get really, really stupid.

This film is both one of the most silly, over the top, redundant films ever made and yet also one of the singular most amazing things ever committed to film.
Its a terrible Rocky film and sequel, but also such a great film to sit back and enjoy.

There are problems with the writing. Like if Rocky was so adamant Apollo should postpone the fight, why did he wait until minutes before the fight started to tell him? Then seeing as Rocky was fully aware at how dangerous Drago was, why did he throw the towel in AFTER Apollo gets beaten senseless and not before? Yeah Rocky, its your fault Apollo is dead.

But you know the worst thing in this film? That damn talking robot given to Paulie for his birthday present. A talking robot…in a Rocky film? People got upset over aliens in Indiana Jones, that was nothing. It may have o ly been in a couple of scenes but still, that was enough to be unbelievably annoying.

Then there is Drago himself who is basically a super human. Some kind of mega boss battle you’d find in a video game. I really like Dolph Lundgren in the role and the character…but he was still a bit too over the top really.
To finish, that damn ending where Rocky ends the cold war and unites America and Russia as friends. Its all just a tad too cheesy and clearly a film of its time. I’m sure people were up out of their seats watching this back in 1985 (unless you were Russian), but now it is a little cringe worthy.

Still that James Brown introduction for the Creed/Drago fight was awesome. Best fight introduction ever.

Yet as I said, despite its problems Rocky IV is a fun film to watch. Really damn stupid but still a whole lot of fun.

Rocky V: Pretty much universally hated. Even Sylvester Stallone himself has disowned this one (not Rocky IV with its talking robot and superhuman Russian). The next film, Rocky Balboa has a flashback to every Rocky film previously…except this one.

You know, I really like this one though. Yeah the whole father son thing is tedious and feels shoehorned in just because Sage Stallone was playing the son and the bullying sub-plot is just pointless. But I still enjoy this film as it gets back to reality and back to characters.

Tommy was a great character and a refreshing change to see someone turn on Rocky like he did, despite all Rocky did for him.
There are plenty of throwbacks and references to the original film with Rocky back in his old neighbourhood. I enjoy the idea of Rocky becoming the mentor figure that Mickey once was to him.

Plus that final street fight is amazing and good to see something different from the norm in a Rocky film.

Yeah, despite Sylvester Stallone really, really hating this film himself and many of the fans agreeing. I’ll always stand by Rocky V as a better sequel than IV and one that gets things back on track. I just have to ignore Sage Stallone as Robert Balboa and the film is great.

Rocky Balboa: I was one of those that made the old jokes when this film was announced. Really, another Rocky film with an ageing Stallone? As much as I love the films, Rocky V was enough and where it should have ended.

I even made the pre-decision to not bother to watch this one and avoided it for ages.
Then I brought the Rocky DVD box set and this film was included, so may as well watch it.
To be quite honest, I was blown away. The film is the best since the original and really gets back to basics.
Its all about characters with very little spectacle. Its a good honest story told well and written brilliantly.

Stallone gives an amazing performance as Rocky here and the whole film is full of emotion. Rocky taking his anniversary tour of the places he used to go with Adrian just tugs at the heart strings. Plus there are a couple of well written speeches that mirror the kind of flack Stallone was getting for wanting to do this film. Like the speech Rocky gives at the boxing commission when he applies for a licence or the one he gives to his Robert when he tries to talks him out of fighting again.
Really puts me in mind of the original film.

The fact they filmed the fight with a real life boxer and all filmed during a real boxing match during a real pay per view event adds a lot of, well realism. Probably the best fight in the whole series.

The decision to replace the actor playing Rocky’s son (replacing Stallone’s real life son) was a tough but good idea as the dynamic between the two actors is brilliant. Stallone is better here acting alongside Milo Ventimiglia than he was with his real son Sage in Rocky V.
Killing off Adrian off screen was also a ballsy move and a gamble that really works as we now get to see Rocky with nothing, which was what he had at the start of his journey. This really helps and adds plenty of believability and gravitas to the character.

Great film and an apt end to the character that has lasted so long.

Bye

Rocky Balboa is one of my all time favourite film characters. He is simple but charming, tough but caring. Seeing the character grow from humble beginnings though his rise to stardom and his fall from grace over the series of films is an epic and emotional roller coaster.
He had endured for almost 40 years because he is such a great character. I already believed I said goodbye to the character at the end of the last film (and yes I had a lump in my throat), but he is back once more and I’m more than happy to see him again. But I will miss him when he finally is gone for good.

I can’t wait to watch Creed.

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