- Gareth Crook
Rocky (1976) - 7/10
I’ve never watched Rocky. I’ve seen all the clips. I know the music, but from start to finish, nope. It’s not helped by me not liking boxing. I don’t see the point. It’s a stupid sport, so watching Rocky (Sylvester Stallone, in case you’ve lived under, well a rock) beating the daylights out of an opponent in the opening scene doesn’t fill me with much confidence. Sweat, smoke, 1970s grime, it’s not glamorous. My hope is that this is one of those boxing films that’s not really about boxing. Shadow boxing along the streets of Philadelphia at night as the titles roll, I’ll admit, it has a nice tone. Setting the scene for Rocky’s meagre existence. A miserable apartment with his only company being some fish, a mirror and some old memories. I’m not sure he knows this, but he’s lonely. By day he’s a debt collector. Muscle to threaten those who’ve not yet paid their bills to his scumbag loan shark boss, but despite all the fighting and tough guy stuff, Rocky is a nice guy… with a bit of a temper. This is largely down to him not catching a break. Fighting bums, trouble at the gym he trains in. He needs something good in his life. Like Adrian (Talia Shire), the shy girl from the pet store or a chance to get in the ring for a big fight. Like with Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). He’s the current heavyweight champ and he’s just lost his opponent for his next televised fight. We can see where this is headed, unlikely as it is. And so to the point of Rocky. Boxing is the vehicle, but it’s about the downtrodden no hoper from the streets getting a shot at the big time. The American bullshit dream. Hey this is a movie though and movies are about dreams. Plus this has some interesting slants. Apollo is a marketing man. He understands how to sell a fight, how to pitch the story and in Rocky he sees the story. Plus we care about Rocky, he’s a bit dumb, talks too much and he’s not all that easy to understand, but he’s got heart and he’s humble and he’s scared. The fight is on, he’s not expected to win, but he’s got Adrian in his corner and her slob brother Paulie (Burt Young). Plus all the sharks who come circling, when they smell opportunity. The first half of Rocky is good. There’s some real substance to it, as it primes all it’s characters. Then it’s to 4am alarm calls, necking raw eggs, punching slaughtered cows and running up those famous steps in a tracksuit that’s seen better days. Rocky has got his work cut out. Apollo however, well he doesn’t seem concerned. I mean there’s no training montage of him running along the river and punching the air in front of the museum is there. Rocky has doubts right to the end though, as he faces the reality of the task ahead. It’s a good film. I went in expecting to be a bit underwhelmed and it is only good, I can’t stretch to great, but Stallone is believable and charismatic. He looks good in the ring too and the fight when we get to it, really is entertaining… for boxing.