Rocky ★★★★

Its hard to explain why 'Rocky' works so perfectly, but well it just does. Before this I'd only every seen 'Rocky' the once, and that was a long while ago when I think I was too young to fully appreciate it, and much of my memories of the film were confused and mixed with my memories of that Quantum Leap episode 'The Right Hand of God' when Sam is in the body of a boxer fighting to support a convent of nuns (if you haven't seen it then check it out). Secondly, as 'Creed 2' is finally upon us I didn't hesitate to purchase the Blu-Ray collection of all 6 Rockys on my Black Friday Weekend spree. Even though it wasn't one of my favourite movies, I've still had that famous poster on my wall for a while now, surrounded by 'Seven Samurai' and 'The Warriors', which just goes to show how big of an impact it has on me despite this being only my second viewing, and this time round I definitely loved it a whole lot more. I had forgot that Sylvester Stallone wrote the script for the film, and it quite remarkable that he didn't only play this iconic character but create him as well, and its a very personal role with many of his traits feeling as though they are of Stallone himself. Rocky has a meat-headed and seemingly brutish exterior, and yet what he lacks in intelligence he makes up for with his down-to-earth emotion and almost childish charm. Some criticise him for trying to fill Brando's big shows, and I would agree in saying that as an actor Stallone is on a lesser level that Marlon who has nuance and more subtlety (if you don't know why I'm making this comparison then watch 'On The Waterfront', definitely a better film than 'Rocky' but its unfair to compare them as Elia Kazan's film is about communism not boxing), but I shall defend Sly's performance here as something different but no less effecting. Like its titular hero its a humble screenplay, with great, fully-rounded characters. Now I'm older I relish the early scenes of Rocky trying to win over Adrian, and the awkward charm of their first date (take a shot every time Rocky says "Ya know" and you'll pass out before you even finish the movie!), filling each others personality holes with their relationship. Carl Weathers's Apollo Creed is also a character whom I love, mainly as whilst he is shown to be arrogant and naive in only excepting the match to be a publicity stunt show not a fight, he's never shown to be the villain and he seems to be a good guy underneath his flashy champion persona.

Technically, I think director John G. Avildsen and cinematographer James Crabe do excellent jobs. The montage sequences remain fantastic, and something I found out recently is that 'Rocky' is one of the first movies to use the steady-cam. Whilst Avildsen shows the Italian Stallion as the movie's protagonist, the main star of the picture is of course Philly. Rocky is bruised and battered as he walks the streets, and that humbleness and unpretentiousness the movie has truly comes to life in the sense of community in the city, especially in the less affluent parts of Philadelphia where Rocky equates. Its not wonder this film is so lorded by the city today, as its at the very heart of the story even though it is just the backdrop to a universal underdog tale.

I'll admit theres not very much that I can write about 'Rocky'. Its an entertaining journey and character arc, a bonafide and un-compromised classic that still holds up after over 40 years. Sadly due to my busy schedule I'll be unable to catch a showing of 'Creed 2' this weekend but my hopes are very high. Its a franchise that surprisingly has a lot of life in yet, and it rightfully continues as a contender, although nothing can top the original. Both times I've seen it, the first thing I want to do after finishing it is to punch the sh*t out of everything I see! Oh and you think I was going to forget to mention Bill Conti did you! 'Gonna Fly Now' remains one of cinemas best and most whistled themes, and makes the film just that bit more brilliant.

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