Rocky is the classic 1976 tale about an underdog boxer who gets the chance to face off against the current heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed. With help from his friend, his girlfriend, and his trainer, he discovers he has a lot more of a chance than he could have thought possible.
Rocky was always one of those movies that I can’t believe I never watched. I felt like I had seen it, because it was so iconic, but I never actually sat down and watched it. I call it Godfather Part II Syndrome. I chalked this one up for my not really being a huge Sylvester Stallone fan, but honestly after watching this movie I can understand why it is responsible for launching is career.He forms a really well-rounded character out of something that could have easily been a flat one. Sport’s movie’s sometimes forget the heart of their characters and make all their motivations simply “win the fight”, “beat the team”, “be the champion”, but Rocky doesn’t do that. The main character, Rocky Balboa, is trying to better himself for a woman he loves, Adrian.
Adrian also is a well-rounded character, which grows and becomes more confident and self-assured. They better each other, and even if they both are a little awkward, they’re comfortable together. She is just a wallflower who blossoms into a sparky, confident mate for Rocky. Rocky is just a poor boxer and Adrian brings out his tender human side. They make each other more three-dimensional, and the most tender and scene-stealing moments together allow the audience to see new sides to the characters. I would like to know how Adrian could see for the rest of the film as she suddenly stops wearing her glasses to shed her dorky, shy image, since I doubt they had contacts in the ghettos of Philadelphia in 1976. Was she just blind for the rest of the flick? Because those were some thick lenses. Still, doesn’t matter, just me being the nit-picker I am. Still the inclusion of them together as a couple creates and entirely new side of a seemingly simple story. It allows the film to transcend its own genre of generic sports film and makes it a tender look at inner-city Philadelphia and the lives that reside there.
Knowing Stallone was completely broke when he wrote and sold the screenplay and also convinced studio execs to let him star in his own movie when he had zero recognition in the film industry, adds an even more inspiring spin on an already inspiring tale. Rocky Balboa is Sylvester Stallone, and without him the film wouldn’t have the same charm. It was a risk that wholeheartedly paid off. The screenplay has heart and action, and it tackles difficult issues like poverty and racism in 1970s Philadelphia. The score is iconic for a reason, and the training montage scene that everyone knows and loves is truly beautiful. The final fight is brutal, but well choreographed, feeling like both a dance and a natural fight. It’s brutal and raw and sometimes hard to watch, but still a fantastically done fight. I’m looking forward to watching the sequels if they even come close to the quality of their origin story.
Let’s be clear, the only downside is that there isn’t enough Butkus the Bullmastiff. That is my one and only complaint. Long live Butkus: 1969-1981.
Amy’s Recommendation: 9/10
“I liked the movie as a whole, but the ending was confusing. We had to rewind it to figure out who even won. Entertaining film overall but could have used a more clarifying ending.”