Saturday, July 29, 2006

I heart Rocky Balboa

I was a kid when the first Rocky film came out and I fell in love with it: the characters, the fairytale story, the Bill Conti score - everything. I went to see it at the pictures with my grandad and we had a great time. When Rocky won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1976 [beating fellow nominees Taxi Driver, Network and All the President's Men, no mean achievement], it felt like the fairytale was complete. Hell, the first album I ever bought with my own money was going to the Rocky sountrack - until my brothers talked me into getting ELO's New World Record instead. Schmucks.

The success of the sequels - especially Rocky III with Mr T and the Cold War clash of Rocky IV - made a lot of people forget why the original film won three Oscars [it also got the statuettes for Best Director and Best Film Editing] and was nominated for another seven. Rocky is a brilliantly structured movie, with a remarkably downbeat tone. Rocky Balboa is a loser, a legbreaker for a minor Philadelphia gangster. He gets offered the chance to fight the world heavyweight champion - and turns it down. Even when he finally accepts the fight, Rocky knows he cannot hope to win. Ultimately, he decides to try and survive the experience, nothing more. Nobody has ever taken the champ the distance; that becomes Rocky's goal. He loses the fight, but achieves his goal.

Thirty years on, there is a sixth film in the series being prepped for a cinema release this December, called Rocky Balboa. The days when it was cool or fashionable to like Sylvester Stallone and his movies has long since passed. Can Stallone make one last comeback? Will his greatest creation [Stallone wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for the first Rocky film] revive his career? I've no idea. But the trailer for Rocky Balboa is now up on the internet and it feels like an old friend is coming to visit. Frankly, I can't wait to see him again.

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