Rocky is a sports/drama movie which came out in 1976. It was directed by John G. Avildsen and it is both written by and starring Sylvester Stallone. It was the highest grossing film in 1976 and it was acclaimed by critics as well, winning Oscars for best director, best picture and best film editing. Also it was nominated in a few other categories, mostly for acting. Is it that good and does it hold up? Read on to find out.
Plot: Rocky Balboa(Sylvester Stallone), a small-time boxer from Philadelphia, gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fight the heavy-weight champion, Apollo Creed(Carl Weathers), in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.
This movie is now 40 years old, and even if it shows some signs of age, for it's time it was revolutionary and it is truly a timeless classic. It has a very '70s feel to it, and yet it can captivate the audience even today. It showed great promise from Sylvester Stallone, it was a breakthrough role for him and he owned it. He has also masterfully written the movie. Yeah, you could say that the movie has cliches, but even if it does, you have to take into account that when this movie came out, it had a very unpredictable and interesting plot, and for me, it still does today. Rocky is easily one of my favorite movies of all time and it could be put in the "greatest movies of all time" list. 30 years from it's release, it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry for being aesthetically, culturally or historically significant. It shows how well made this movie is. Rocky is the most inspiring movie of all time. You can try hard and hard, but you will not find a more inspiring movie than this (unless it is another from the series). Rocky series is also one of my favorite movie series to watch. It may seem fanboy-ish, but this all shows how big an influence a 40-year old movie has on cinema and the moviegoers. Every bit of the plot in this movie has some significance or a meaning, and it is just amazing. Actually, I am listening to the soundtrack of the series just as I am writing this.
Rocky is depicted as somewhat of a bum, who is uneducated but a really kind hearted and humble type of man. He boxes, but he also works as a debt collector to ensure his living, which isn't much, but he still tries hard to live. It is fascinating to see how other people either respect him for his big heart or they think he is an idiot and a washed up man. When he gets this one shot at a world title by some sheer luck, he is determined to show everybody he is not just some bum living an underachieving life, he is determined to finally live up to his potential, he is determined to be the only boxer who has ever went the distance and endured the whole match against Apollo Creed, who is one of the greatest boxers of all time. I guarantee you will hardly find a more likable protagonist than Rocky Balboa. He may be uneducated, but he is such an uncorrupted and empathetic person towards anyone, so we as the audience can't help it but to root for him to show everyone he is "somebody." A good example of his behaviour is when his friend Paulie, who gives him a lot of trouble, asks him if he can make some money off his name, and Rocky is like "Yeah, no problem."
I have already said this is the most inspirational movie of all time, and here is why. First it is Rocky overcoming all these hardships, all the bad things life keeps throwing at him. Secondly, check out his training, I mean hardly anyone wouldn't feel inspired to go out there and do something. And what would the training montage be without the fitting soundtrack? The soundtrack, made by Bill Conti is awesome and so inspirational. You got to get goosebumps when Rocky is running up those steps and the "Gonna Fly Now" song is playing in the background. Also, "Gonna Fly Now" was nominated for the Academy Award in the best original song category. Unfortunately, it lost to "Evergreen" from Barbra Streisand, which I feel is rubbish, because play both of these songs to people on the street and they will instantly recognize Rocky's theme, even if they do not know the name of the song.
In contrast to some of the sequels, Rocky is more of a drama movie, which works really well. Still, the drama is there to fill up sports scenes with tension and emotion, and Rocky is THE BEST sports movie of all time, no matter what anybody says. The build up to the title fight is great. I mean, you see Rocky, who is perceived as a "nobody" doing all this hard training to beat, or at least make it to the end, against Apollo Creed, who is one of the greatest boxers of all time and a big mouth, but he isn't really training, he is depicted more as a businessman prior to the fight. You also see how he has a flair for the theatricality, as he is influenced by Muhammad Ali (R.I.P.), whereas Rocky Balboa was more inspired by Joe Frazier, who was Ali's rival(R.I.P.), and Joe even makes a cameo in this movie. Muhammad Ali has given some big praise for this movie. Also, I think that Apollo Creed is the greatest opponent that Rocky has ever faced, because he was an established boxer who has never been defeated or knocked out in his life and he knew how to sway the audience to his side. This movie ultimately leads to the final showdown, in which determined Rocky sets out to prove himself and shock both Apollo and the boxing world. The final fight is such a thrilling ride, with so much tension and excitement. It ultimately leads to a one of the greatest movie endings ever and to a such a satisfying conclusion.
The relationships between Rocky and other big characters are also interesting. Apollo sees Rocky as somebody who will get knocked out in maximum three rounds. Rocky has a love interest in Adrian, who is a really shy girl working in a pet shop and she is a socially awkward person. However, they really fit each other as characters, as Rocky shows her to live a little and she provides him support and stability in his life. Also, Rocky works for a loan shark named Gazzo, who may be a loan shark, but he shows himself to be nice and fair to his worker, which I really appreciated. There is also Rocky's relationship with already mentioned Adrian's sister Paulie, who is also a bit of a bum, working in a meat factory and being a short tempered alcoholic. He does give quite a bit of trouble to Rocky and Adrian. Mickey is an old coach and a former boxer who can be really grumpy and he doesn't stray from foul language, either. He also seeks his opportunity of a lifetime in training Rocky for the biggest fight of both their lives. Ultimately, Rocky's relationships with other major characters were well developed and those scenes are not just there to snore at while waiting for the fight to start.
Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa had his performance of a lifetime and established himself as a movie star. I do feel Rocky parallels his life, as he also struggled to get somebody to help him in making this movie, and eventually he made it. Being a writer and the leading actor in a movie is no small feat, especially when you're an unknown. Talia Shire as Adrian also did a very good job at showing her awkwardness and her chemistry with Stallone is really convincing, as their characters form one of the best movie couples of all time. Burgess Meredith as Mickey is also really convincing, as he pushes Rocky forward with his rigorous training, while also sharing an emotional scene with him. Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed is a charismatic presence, and he definitely is a scene stealer with everything he does. Burt Young as Paulie also did a good job. The rest of the cast are alright, I don't see anything bad to say about them.
Pardon me for a long review, but I really felt a lot of things should have been said about Rocky. This movie is simply art. It shows us that we should always give our all, it kickstarted one of my favorite series of all time, which is influential and inspirational to this day and it tells us to go out there and make our lives count. And when a movie inspires you to do just that, you know it is an iconic movie. And that is what it is, iconic. Thank you Sylvester Stallone!
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