Rocky VI… Really? … REALLY?

My prediction for the movie: pain.

Sometimes you get a movie that comes out that you love so much and when you watch it you wish the film would never end. Some time later you are elated to find out that they’re making a sequel. It comes out and totally rules. You are all over this franchise. What’s more, the entire country is all up on the franchise. And sequels just start pouring out. And one after another, they all rule. You feel vindicated, sated and full on the series.

But the producers, or the director, or maybe even the star, disagree. And they decide to make one more. And suddenly after all this time you’re actually worried. You thought you were done. You thought you could just revel in the DVD’s or the repeat viewings on TNT, happy that the franchise was that close to perfection; even more happy that the series faded into the sunset before it was too late. But what to think now?

Isn’t it too late? Hasn’t time passed it over? Are you too old for it now? And what will this sequel do to the overall series, especially if it’s terrible?

This is what haunts me after learning that Rocky VI is officially in pre-production. Stallone has been threatening that bomb for years now, but no one ever believed him. He’s well into his sixties now, ain’t no way we wanna see him shirtless and taking a beating. We all know it’s a desperate attempt to get back into the spotlight, and besides the last one was so terrible that we all collectively decided to believe it didn’t exist. Even more, he hasn’t had a hit movie in more than a decade. Why would we ever let him make this movie?

Like I said, he’s been saying it’s happening for years. He even wrote a spec script and pitched it across town. He released the first 60 pages in his worthless, now-defunct magazine “Sly”. I read it, it’s terrible. Rocky’s broke, Adrian’s dead, and the worthless son is now a successful stock broker that ignores Rocky. Meanwhile, Rocky runs his own restaurant, continues to be broke, and occasionally shadowboxes in his basement. Yeah, it’s that good. Worse yet, the villain is a stereotypical black heavyweight named Mason “The Line” Dixon. I wish I were kidding. Rocky decides to get back in the ring one last time, completely forgetting the fact that he has considerable brain damage, and even an errant backhand to the head may render him a vegetable. Of course, odds are he goes fifteen rounds, takes dozens and dozens of high impact shots to the face and body, gets knocked down two or three times, and somehow manages to win on a last second punch in the final round. The Rocky formula is nothing if not predictable.

I want to love this movie. If by some miracle he actually pulls it off, then we can erase the bad taste of Rocky 5, and finally feel like the series ended on the high note it deserved. Much like I hope that Lucas does one more Star Wars film that blows everyone’s minds and erases the necchy taste of the new trilogy. And in converse, much how I hope that Spielberg doesn’t make the fourth Indiana Jones movie, because the last one was so great and it seemed like such a perfect ending to such a sterling film franchise. But do I really think Stallone has one more in him? No, I don’t.

It’s not that I don’t think he’s talented, because I do. It’s not that I don’t think he has the body for it anymore, because good lord, he still does. Heck, he’s bigger now than he was for Rocky IV, and he was beyond yoked out back then. I just think the “idea” of Sylvester Stallone has eclipsed Sylvester Stallone the “person”, to the point where he has become a near-reality show parody of himself. And it all stems from that moment in his boxing reality show “The Contender” where the boxers come back to the gym to find Stallone shadowboxing and sweating like a hot pig. It was unreal. I truly think that HE believes he’s a real boxer. When you are known for one role, when that one role is so embedded in our cultural lexicon, it’s not hard to believe that the actor and the role are one in the same. But usually it’s the fans that are unable to disconnect, not the disillusioned actor.

The Rocky series was a touchstone for an America that no longer exists. Rocky was the everyman, fighting hard for God, Country, Mickey, etc. Hell, he single-handedly ended communism in Rocky IV. But what America would he be representing now? The country is split into colored-states, we’re at war with an enemy no one fears, the digital age has turned everyone into cynics, and worst of all, athletes are no longer seen as gods among men. You can blame the Terrell Owens’s of this world for pulling the curtain back on that myth. And boxing is in such disrepair now that Tyson is officially off the reservation, that Rocky Balboa is probably the most known boxer in the country, and he’s a fictional character.

There’s nothing for Rocky to unite. Nothing for him to fight for. Today’s audiences are no longer able to suspend disbelief. He’s gonna walk into that ring with a black guy twice his size and not a person under 21 will believe he can win. And when he does, they will laugh at the screen. And all the adults in the audience, the ones who bought the ticket hoping to recapture some of the magic they felt so many years ago, will duck down in their seats and cringe at what’s become of this once holy film franchise. They will reconsider why they ever bought the myth to begin with. It will destroy all the good this series has done for the movies, and for America.

I hope it’s good, I really do. I want the lights to come down and see Rocky Balboa take on the world. But I have this deep-seeded fear that instead of seeing inspiration, I’m just gonna feel sorry for him. I’m going to shake my head at the crooked decisions of an actor that once held my attention in palm of his hand. I’m just gonna feel bad that he refuses to hang them up. Because this isn’t like real life. When Michael Jordan came back to play for the Wizards we smiled and applauded but mostly we just ignored it. And now that he is retired for good we don’t think about it; it did nothing to tarnish his legacy. But movies are forever. Imagine if Return of the Jedi had been a complete disaster. We never would have looked at Star Wars the same way again. This is why we never saw a Godfather 4, because part three went so astray.

I just don’t understand why Stallone doesn’t get it. The last Rocky movie was an abomination. And now all these years later he’s gonna roll the dice on an egg like this? If this movie tanks than I’m no longer looking at four good movies and one mistake. No, now I’m looking at four good films that may have only been so good because the last two were so bad. I am obligated to question the integrity of the sequels that are good movies. I don’t want to do that. I have too many good memories of the Rocky franchise. Can’t we just let it be? Can’t we just let it rest in peace?

Up until those lights come down on opening night I will hope the movie is good. I will watch the trailer and analyze the poster. I will tell myself it’s gonna be good. I will watch a sit through a Rocky marathon with my friend A-Train the night before “Rocky Balboa” comes out. I will be there opening night. I will hold my breath for two hours. And hopefully, I will walk out pumping my fists in celebration, a mixture of relief and excitement. That would be… good.

The ball’s in your court, Sylvester. You’ve been great to me in the past, so I will give you the benefit of the doubt. Please, please please don’t let me (or the world) down.

Bangarang, Rocky!

UPDATE: Yeah, so I was waaay wrong about this movie.


About Jason Matthews

Jason Matthews is the head writer for TheJay.com. The site has been nominated for two Weblog Awards (Best Culture Blog, 2006 & 2007), and has been featured on more than 100 websites, including the IMDB, Defamer, College Humor, USA Today’s Pop Candy (Written by Whitney Matheson), Entertainment Weekly’s PopWatch, BestWeekEver.tv, Gorilla Mask and eBaum’s World. Jason is also an accomplished playwright. He is currently the Writer-in-Residence at the Ruskin Group Theatre, where through their showcase “Café Plays”, he has written and produced forty-five one-act plays, and premiered his full-length debut comedy ‘Four Night Stand’ to a sold out six-week run in Spring 2010. In addition to his work online and in theatre, Jason was the host of PopLoad on NowLive.com from January – May 2007, and was the Editor-in-Chief of the popular Santa Barbara-based arts magazine CampusPOINT from June 2000 – June 2002. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Film Studies from UC Santa Barbara, and an intense love for Ben Affleck and Keanu Reeves. Find Jason Matthews on Twitter @ www.Twitter.com/jasonamatthews
This entry was posted in Film, Rocky Balboa, Sylvester Stallone. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Rocky VI… Really? … REALLY?

  1. Bulldog Mitchell says:

    Jay,

    That was a fair enough critisism and ironic, as you even state, if he sees himself alot like his Rocky character, and hasn’t had a hit movie in ten years then this films success would be remarkable in itself to achieve.

    However, your “prepare for the worst, hope for the best attitude” is good for the mix, with fans that are alot more optimistic and excited.

    We know he blew it in 5…good message, bad movie–but like he has stated, this character is a unique one that can always go somewhere and I believe in that. Not all of us can relate to the Rocky sagas with our own lives. In fact, I only think a few of us can. Most are fans, but only some can really realte to this message of attrition and purging. It must be done. It had to be done. It will be done. Done for those of us that are in a stage of our life, where we may be down and out, but have to reach inside and find the strength to get some more things done with our lives.

    I was an amateur boxer and used to be a big supporter of that world, back a decade ago. Don’t forget the unbelievable astonishment so many of us had when Foreman knocked Moorer out.
    If that hadn’t of happened, this film probably would not have been made. So theres your answer to why…

    Give Stallone a little more faith to come through on this one. If you don’t want to consider doing that, then there’s always the other corner.

    God Bless.
    Dave “Bulldog” Mitchell

  2. The Jay says:

    I too was amazed when Foreman knocked out Moorer, and too that end can see a touch of realism behind the plot for Rocky 6. However, there are mitigating factors here. Most people remember that he had brain damage after his fight with Drago, something that would not just go away if he rested for a decade and then came back to fight. But what most people don’t remember is that Apollo nearly ruined his eyesight in his left eye. He had something like 30% peripheral vision. Even Mickey took a swing at him. Add those two factors in with a layoff of 10 or so years and to me it is not feasible, nor is it safe, for Rocky to get back in the ring. It should be interesting to watch him try to persuade the Boxing Commission to give him a liscense to fight.

    Let me be clear about this… I want this move to be good. I hope and pray it knocks me out. The trailers have been surprisingly not awful and I’m starting to hear good buzz on the flick. I’ll just remain skeptical until I’m sitting in the theater. I’m sure when the lights go down and that wonderful score starts playing, I’ll be right back in Rocky’s corner.

  3. boboa says:

    judge MENTAL! another i think i know it all.
    rocky balboa will be as good as rocky 1-2-3-4

    thats obvious by the trailer.

    u should really see it before u squak.

    rocky 5 was not that bad if u got it.

    it was mainly about his relationship with his son.
    nothing more or less and it was due.

    real life shit.

    he had to quit boxing and did what any other fighter usually does after it’s all over.

    they become trainers.

    if u think about it,it was a logical story
    and a possible one that does happen all the time
    and in many ways.

    rocky 6 will make rocky 5 an even better movie
    knowing that it is not over yet.

    it will be a better ending.

    no matter what the story does it will take
    a logical approach.

    the real main reason people hated rocky 5
    was because he never got back in the ring to
    fight gunn.

    which is where he belongs,no matter what
    in any rocky film.

    but even the street fight was just cause,
    after all he did punch paulie,now what would u do
    if someone did that to your brother or friend?

    run?

    it was logical for rocky to bet tommys ass in the street.

    but again. no matter what,people want rocky back in the ring.

    and sly knows this.

    for let’s face it?

    the fights are the best part anyways

    the story is usually the same

    rocky gets down and depressed
    and adrian or mickey or even apollo gave him speaches to give him his bloody eye of the tiger
    to train like a work horse again and defy all odds.

    this time it’s more reality

    he’s old and they face this right up front.

    all will doubt him,call him buts of course.

    Dixon comes off as a ego over confident punk in heat.

    yet in the end i doubt rocky prevails

    not from what i read.

    he goes out like he came in

    most would be disssssssapointed if rocky loses.

    what is the main purpose of a rocky film?

    for rocky to defy odds and prevail.

    he always does and maybe should.

    maybe he will win and prove all wrong
    which will work too. at his age and all

    but in the end even if rocky just puts up a good fight and schools dixon into having more heart.

    if it’s so close to call and ends a draw
    or split decision of biblical proportions of closeness,then sly maybe feels that is good enough for rocky at his age. to show he still can go the distance,to show he is no ham or bum even at old age.

    foreman did it. but again

    i doubt he will copy that.

    maybe dixon is not all a bad guy

    but in the end nobody will give a hoot if Dixon wins anyways. his personality alone says he needs to take a fall.

    his cocky attitude alone says he needs a wake up call.

    this ending is a hard one to bite
    no matter what script review u read,
    even at dark horizon. he has filmed several fight endings and nobody really knows,but the actors.

    basicly rocky lost it all in rocky 5

    money.. fame.. now he’s old and is being called a joke… all laugh and doubt and on top of that he is still loved and cheered for out of respect.

    dixon im sure will beat up rocky the first few rounds,then all of a sudden,rockys hidden rage explodes once again to put up an even fight.

    school dixon. surprize dixon and make him realize this fight is no damn joke after all.

    by the 10th round dixon will be a new man
    respecting rocky,touching gloved and all.

    i hear dixon shows alot of heart near the end when HE breaks his hand off rockys thick skull
    or maybe they lock fists and he breaks it.

    then i thought back to the trailer and thought
    maybe it is rocky who breaks his hand for he is the old man
    who has calcium deposites on his bones?

    weak wrists.. it would make more sence if rocky broke his hand,yet chose to fight on!

    and maybe that is a fact.

    could be a trick.

    i think rocky will lose but will be happy with his perfornance along with the crowd. and dixon!

    dixon will be a changed man. his ego will deflate,and he will now know what being a real man is all about.

    both fighters will praise each other and the crowd will cheer them both.

    but rocky loses?

    something is not right.

    i say he keeps his promise ,and gets it all back.

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