I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Posts Tagged ‘Bill Conti’

Rocky Balboa

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

tn_rockybalboaI already reviewed ROCKY BALBOA when it came out, but it’s such a great movie I wanted to checked in on it again.

It’s hard to believe this humble character drama is Stallone’s directorial followup to the rock n roll tall tale ROCKY IV. The style, the content, the tone, even the character are from different planets. This one has zero (0) Survivor songs in it and it reminds me less of ROCKY IV than of later Clint Eastwood directorial works: quiet, mournful, wintery colors, gentle piano scoring, character driven, raw. And the trashy people who give Rocky a bunch of shit at a bar could be family members from MILLION DOLLAR BABY.

This is a more pure ROCKY I throwback than ROCKY V was because Rocky’s life is simple, humble and gentle again. He’s not poor – he owns a restaurant called Adrian’s – but that’s not exactly high roller shit. He actually runs the place, seems to be there every day to greet customers, does the hiring and shops for some of the ingredients himself. It’s small, and Paulie makes fun of his “Italian food made by Mexicans.”

That Adrian has died since part V is crucial. Even in V, when Rocky lost “everything,” he didn’t lose Adrian. Rocky is alone again, but seems to take it in stride, because he’s Rocky. Although the beginning is specifically about marking the anniversary of Adrian’s death by visiting important places like the ruins of the skating rink where they had their first date, I get the feeling that the shot of him sitting contently at her grave in a folding chair is a pretty regular occurrence. And I love that Paulie lingers uncomfortably on the perimeter just like he did in II when she was in the hospital. He’s very aware that he’s an asshole and doesn’t deserve to be near her as much as Rocky does. He’s tormented by how he treated her. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Rocky II

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

tn_rockyiiAfter the success of ROCKY, screenwriter Sylvester Stallone became writer-director Sylvester Stallone with the period wrestling movie PARADISE ALLEY. And then after that practice run he was ready to direct the rematch.

ROCKY II starts right before where ROCKY left off, with about 5 minutes of Balboa vs. Creed. In other words “the end of ROCKY.” This type of recap used to be done in many sequels and never is now. You have to remember, there was no home video at that time. It seemed important to remind people what happened because the last movie was 3 years ago and people haven’t necessarily been able to see it since then.

So the first new footage is right where ROCKY left off, right after the fight, and we can compare and contrast it to the first movie’s scene after Rocky beat Spider Rico in the church. Instead of our hero and his opponent laying bloodied in a small back room waiting for the doctor to show up later, they are both rushed to the hospital in ambulances, and are welcomed there by crowds of fans and press. And instead of the two fighters being like friendly co-workers in-this-shit-together, Apollo starts barking in front of the cameras about a rematch and calling Rocky a punk. This confuses Rocky because, as we were reminded by the archival footage, the very first thing Apollo said after winning the fight was “No rematch.” He was very clear about it. They both agreed. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Victory

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

tn_victoryVICTORY is a 1981 John Huston film that combines a LONGEST YARD type game-between-prisoners-and-guards story with a GREAT ESCAPE type story about escape greatness. It all begins when Sylvester Stallone, a Canadian prisoner in a German WWII labor camp (I thought American, but apparently he has a maple leaf on him somewhere), loses control of his soccer ball. It rolls over to Max Von Sydow, a Nazi officer who starts showboating by foot juggling it even though he’s wearing his big Nazi boots, and he kicks it over to Michael Caine, a British prisoner who was a pro footballer/soccerer before the war.

That one casual sporting exchange is historic because it starts up the conversation that leads to the deal: the best players from among the Allied prisoners will play an exhibition game against the German national team. For the Nazis it’s good propaganda at the end of a war that, let’s face it, did not improve their country’s image on the international stage. For the prisoners it’s an opportunity to plan an escape.
(read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Masters of the Universe

Friday, March 8th, 2013

tn_mastersoftheuniverseMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE is a Golan and Globus production starring Dolph Lundgren, but it’s a little more mainstream than that implies because it’s for the children, it’s based on action figures and on a cartoon based on action figures. I was looking for that same authorial voice and unique perspective we saw represented in the TRANSFORMERSes and GI JOE, but it turns out that’s Hasbro, this one is based on the works of Mattel. That’s like mixing up H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. I feel like an idiot.

I guess Cannon was trying to make their version of a STAR WARS type fantasy sci-fi-deal. You can tell that when a character says “You got us here, you Thumerian wurbat, now get us home,” but it was already clear from the opening credits over a starfield and the STAR WARSy themes by Bill Conti. Then the credits explode into a shower of sparks. How could this not be exciting? (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.