Archive for Burt Young

Rocky Balboa (2006) Review

Posted in Rocky Balboa with tags , , , on November 7, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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ROCKY BALBOA

***** Out of 5

Tagline- It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over

Release Date- December 20th, 2006

Running Time- 102-Minutes

Rating- PG

Writer/Director- Sylvester Stallone

Starring- Sylvester Stallone, Burt Young, Geraldine Hughes, Milo Ventimiglia, Antonio Tarver, Tony Burton, James Francis Kelly.

Released in 2006 I remember being so excited for the release of Rocky Balboa and I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was still excited since the Rocky series was a big part of my childhood and what I ended up getting was a film far better than I ever could have predicted. Rocky Balboa in my opinion was the best film of 2006 and the best of the Rocky sequels and honestly this film is surprisingly every bit as good as the original, which sometimes people forget how great it was and was nominated for several Oscars including a win for best picture. The first two were more grounded in reality whereas the Rocky III & IV almost felt like comic book film with the hero in Rocky and he villains in Clubber Lang and Drago. Rocky V attempted to go back to the style of the first two with less than spectacular results, but I actually enjoyed it and sometimes I feel as if I’m the only one, but it wasn’t a satisfying conclusion. Rocky Balboa on the other hand is a perfect way to the end the series. I saw this the day it came out and honestly it was the greatest cinematic experience I ever had. The crowd was really into the film and cheering on Rocky and when he gets knocked down during the fight people were yelling get up Rock. Normally people talking gets on my nerves, but this really added to the experience for me.

Like I said the Rocky series was a big part of my childhood and I remember having various Rocky merchandise including action figures. All of the films were to me at the very least enjoyable, but once we got to the 3rd and 4th it very much got away from the roots of the series though I still liked both films and again Rocky V I liked how it went back to the basics and even though I liked the film it was lacking (though Rocky III would be my least favorite). I think part of the problem is even though the odds are stacked against Rocky the underdog aspect of the story were gone after the original as we knew how things would turn out and that in part is what helps make Rocky Balboa so great is the underdog story is back. I think this film came out at the perfect time in Stallone’s career. Back when the original came out Sly was a struggling actor and Rocky helped jump start his career. So in many ways Sly was Rocky; he was broke like the character and a stalling career. When Rocky Balboa came out, Stallone sort of faded and a bunch of his films were either very limited release or even DTV and Rocky Balboa was sort of his comeback. I think had this film been made while Sly was still highly successful it while may have turned out well wouldn’t have been as great. Rocky Balboa gets his chance to show he can still perform at a high level and Stallone showed he can still make a great film and Rocky Balboa helped resurrect his career.

The continuity in the Rocky series can be a little off; the first 3 generally flow well together, but after that even if they pick up where the other left off there are issues with the continuity. So I’m not sure how long its been since Rocky last fought, but he’s listed as being in his 50s in Rocky Balboa (Sly was 59 at the time of the release). Also based on his sons age I would assume its been 10-years or a little more. Retired from boxing and now running a restaurant named Adrian’s, Rocky is far removed from his past glory and is quite lonely since the death of Adrian. His relationship with his son Robert (Ventimiglia) is a bit strained since Robert feels as if he’s in his fathers shadow. Meanwhile heavyweight champion Mason ‘The Line’ Dixon (Tarver) is winning fight after fight, but often gets booed out of the arena. Is Dixon this dominate or are his opponents that subpar? Rocky still wanting to compete decides to come out of retirement and fight small local fights, but Dixon’s people see a chance for a great marketing plan. Rocky is reluctant at first, but agrees to a fight with Dixon to prove despite his age he can still compete with the best while nobody gives Rocky a chance to win he’s been in that position before.

I’ve always been a big fan of Stallone as both a writer and director and people forget he’s an Oscar nominated writer. Rocky Balboa was by far his best screenplay since the original Rocky. Sly has written a lot of excellent films, but with this screenplay like the original it has heart and real human emotion. As the Rocky series went on obviously they were made due to the success of the others, but Sly still took his time to develop the characters and he does that here. Stallone writes some great and deep characters with plenty of depth. I thought his relationship with Marie (Hughes) was deeply touching as Rocky is just sort of lost without Adrian and his son is always too busy for him and Paulie (Young) has his own life. While some wondered where their relationship would go I always took it as friends, which is something Rocky needed.

I’m not one to get choked up during a film in general, but I can’t lie as there are several scenes that get me teary eyed. The scene in which Rocky visits places he was with Adrian such as the pet shop, his old house and the skating rink where they had their first date, which has been taken down was such a deep and sweet scene and Stallone with his writing and acting was so very touching. And by the end its tough for me to hold back the tears. Sly’s script like I said is just so powerful and touching with real human emotion and again its just inspiring. This was my favorite piece of dialogue;

The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you’re hit. It’s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you!

As director Stallone makes the best film of his career. I’ve always enjoyed his work as he’s a great filmmaker, but not in the traditional sense. He’s a guy that clearly knows what his audience wants and often delivers on that. With Rocky Balboa he makes a truly great film. I know I keep repeating myself, but the direction like the writing is touching with such heart. The pace of the film is great and has this tragic feel to it, but by the end its so inspiring and makes you believe anything is possible. Rocky Balboa the character and film has a ton of heart and emotion.

To be totally honest I find Stallone underrated as an actor. As his popularity grew it seemed his performances did lack at times. I never really though had an issue with his acting, but a lot of the times he wasn’t great. However with that said Stallone was excellent in the original Rocky and people may not realize but he was nominated for best actor, but lost to Robert De Niro. De Niro was brilliant as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and very much deserved the Oscar, but Stallone was equally as good. I also though Sly was very good in Rocky II and First Blood. But he wasn’t really as great after that, but in Rocky Balboa, Stallone was again at his very best with a very heartfelt performance. If you think Stallone can’t act watch the original Rocky and Rocky Balboa. He was brilliant in both. The entire cast was excellent with Geraldine Hughes being excellent as Marie who like Adrian did gives Rocky the confidence in himself when he needs it. Burt Young again is hysterical and even quite touching with his performance. Like in Rocky V using real life boxer Tommy Morrison, Antonio Tarver is also a real boxer and he’s actually better than one might expect. While he may not be Oscar worthy or anything, but for a guy that isn’t an actor he’s fairly good actually.

Like the original Rocky winning or losing isn’t the point. Here in Rocky Balboa after the fight ends he leaves the ring. He doesn’t care what the decision is what mattered he gave everything he got and went the distance and give Dixon everything he had left. Even in the other Rocky films the message behind them were always great and Rocky Balboa is no different. Overall Rocky Balboa is truly a great and powerful film that has plenty of heart. Like I said I was really excited for this film, but it turned out far better than I expected, Rocky Balboa is a winner by knockout. This was truly a great ending to a fantastic series. Thank you Sly for your creation.

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Rocky V (1990) Review

Posted in Rocky V with tags , , , , , on November 6, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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Review dedicated to Sage Stallone and Tommy ‘The Duke’ Morrison

ROCKY V

*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- Go for It!

Release Date- November 16th, 1990

Running Time- 104-Minutes

Rating- PG-13

Screenplay- Sylvester Stallone

Director- John G. Avildsen

Starring- Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Richard Gant, Sage Stallone, Tommy Morrison and Burgess Meredith

When looking up info on Rocky V more often than not it makes a list of worst sequels and by many fans of the series Rocky V is cited as the worst. Quite honestly I always found Rocky III to be the weakest of the series and in boxing terms I’d say Rocky V is a winner, but by split decision. Films are made for money and some more than others. The only reason Rocky V was made due to the major success of the previous 4. From 1976-1985, 4 Rocky films were made and all made well over 100-million except Rocky II and while this may not sound like a big deal, but with major differences in ticket prices 100-million back than was a much bigger deal and it seemed as if almost everyone in America were seeing the Rocky films. Sequels are never really needed and that even goes for the great ones and while Rocky 2-3 weren’t needed they at least did have a story, but by the 4th there wasn’t much left, but Rocky IV still turned out great, but Rocky V the results weren’t nearly as good even if I still liked it. Apparently even Stallone said Rocky V was made out of greed, but pointless or not I still enjoyed it and I really don’t think its as bad as most say. With Rocky V, Stallone attempts at going back to the roots of the series and tries to model the film after the original and even brings back John Avildsen who directed the original. Sly was unable to recapture that magic and spirit of the original despite his best efforts. Though Rocky Balboa was able to do just that and to some degree Rocky II, but that’s for another review. Starting with 4 the classic music by Bill Conti wasn’t present and that more or less continues here. Bill Conti actually didn’t score Rocky IV his music is played a tiny bit in a slightly different variation. Conti’s music was used early in Rocky V, but after that Rocky V uses more hip hop for the good portion of the film than the final act Conti’s score is present again. For me this was a major letdown as Conti’s music is quite iconic and a huge part of the success of the series. In Rocky IV while a bit disappointing, but made up for with some great songs.

Rocky V was produced on about a 42-million dollar budget and only pulled in about 40-million but what made this a massive flop was 3 of the first 4 again made over 100-million (except again Rocky II, which pulled in 85-million) and Rocky IV made 127-million, which was the highest grossing of the series (and still is) and with the 40-million Rocky V made that’s a major drop. Rocky V did make over 100-million world wide so it did turn a profit, but its still far below the past films in particular Rocky IV, which made over 300-million world wide. Who knows why this one failed and sure most will say it wasn’t very good, but unless you went to see it how could you know that? Films flop for various reasons and perhaps Sly simply went to the well one too many times. I remember when Rocky V was released and I remember seeing the posters and got really excited and at the time I wasn’t letdown in the least. Older, but maybe not so much wiser I don’t love Rocky V nearly as much as I once did, but I do think its a film a bit better than its reputation.

After returning home from Russia Rocky (Stallone) learns he has suffered brain damage from years of boxing making matters worse due to a crooked accountant Rocky and his family lose all their money and are forced to return to the tough streets of Philly. Rocky meets a young and upcoming fighter in Tommy Gunn (Morrison), but jealousy and greed come between them as Tommy turns on his mentor leading to a street fight.

The script by Stallone is actually fairly decent and while its nowhere near the level of the original there are some very good ideas presented. Really by this point there wasn’t anymore story to tell and the script suffers due to that. Characters while still interesting lack the impact they made in past films. However with that said I still think the script is decent enough. Rocky gets so caught up with Tommy he neglects his family and more importantly his son who really needs him at this point in his life.The point of the story is there are things more important than fame and fortune and the family aspect of the film is the strongest of the script. I liked how Sly attempted to take the series back to its roots, but like I said this film exists simply due to the success of the past 4 and it does more or less show. But I still feel the script is decent enough and even though Rocky IV was lacking in story it was mindless fun and since Rocky V aims to be more the flaws are more glaring. This isn’t one of Sly’s best written films, but in my opinion its middle of the road and despite the flaws still has something to offer. The script’s point is family, honer and integrity at the end of the day are far more important than fame and fortune and while a little sappy Rocky V still has a great message.

Rocky V was directed by John G. Avildsen who won an Oscar for directing the original, but 14-years later he couldn’t recapture the magic. John G. Avildsen attempts at re-creating the feel and look of the original, but it never fully works. While I think the original was the best but I think Stallone is the better director and Rocky V may have been better off with Sly directing. Avildsen delivers a fairly well paced film, but Rocky V misses the strong emotions of past installments. Certain parts can be a little silly and while by no means a great film, Avildsen still does decent, but like I said Rocky V may have been better off with Sly directing.

Sage Stallone in his first role is actually pretty good. He showed some potential but he had a very brief acting career. I’m a huge fan of Sage due to his Grindhouse Releasing company. Sage played a huge role in getting many horror and cult films in general released either through Grindhouse Releasing or with other companies. Many may not be aware, but Sage Stallone did a lot for horror and cult. Sage sadly passed away in 2012 and I greatly appreciate all that he did for horror and cult. Tommy Morrison was also fairly decent in his role as Tommy Gunn. I used to be a huge fan of Morrison as the only white heavyweight with a chance back in the 90s he was someone a young white kid could identify with. While later in life I did lose some respect for Tommy with some of his comments, but I was still a fan. Tommy of course contracted HIV back in the 90s though he later denied having it and sadly Tommy passed away September 2nd, 2013 at the age of 44. While his performance isn’t exactly Oscar worthy for a boxer in his first starring role he actually does a decent job.

The showdown between Tommy and Rocky ends up being a street fight and I thought it worked well, but a lot of people take issue with it, which I understand but it wasn’t a big deal to me. Overall Rocky V is flawed and I more than understand why so many dislike it and even Sly wasn’t happy with how it turned out. But I am a defender of Rocky V I enjoyed it flaws and all, but it wasn’t a good way to end the series and 16-years later the franchise would get a proper send off with Rocky Balboa.

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Rocky (1976) Review

Posted in Rocky with tags , , , , on November 1, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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ROCKY

***** Out of 5

Tagline- His Whole Life Was a Million to One Shot

Release Date- December 3rd, 1976

Running Time- 119-Minutes

Rating- PG

Screenplay- Sylvester Stallone

Director- John G. Avildsen

Starring- Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers and Burgess Meredith as Mickey

Released in 1976 Rocky took the world by storm and I don’t think anyone involved could have ever imagined this film would not only become a huge hit, but become so powerful it became a highly successful franchise. Rocky was produced on about a million dollar budget, but some listings have it under that and would make over 100-million and received several Oscar nominations including winning best director and best picture. Rocky to me is the greatest underdog story ever made and while others followed its format no film has ever come close to matching its heart and power. Rocky truly is a great film and as much as I enjoy the sequels I think people forget sometimes how brilliant of a film this was. At the time Rocky was released Stallone had been in the film industry for a few years without much success and this film is what got Stallone’s career going. However even after this, success would still be a bit elusive as his only real big hits after this were Rocky II and Rocky III. The 3rd Rocky was released in 1982 the same year as First Blood, which was Stallone’s biggest hit that wasn’t a Rocky film and after that his career really took off, but again it all started with Rocky, which was a truly amazing film.

Rocky Balboa (Stallone) is a broke club fighter living in Philly and gets the opportunity of a lifetime to fight Apollo Creed (Weathers) the heavyweight champion of the world. Nobody expects Rocky to win or even compete and Rocky himself doesn’t expect to win he just wants to go the distance.

The screenplay by Stallone is truly wonderful and all aspiring writers should follow its structure. The film is well plotted, often funny, dramatic and very powerful and emotional and with Rocky, Stallone created one of the most lovable characters in film. All the characters are terrific and deeply developed and the characters are also quite interesting in particular Paulie (Young). Paulie is a jerk simple as that though starting in part 3 he became a lovable Archie Bunker type character. Paulie is angry and bitter about how his life turned out and had to take care of his sister Adrian (Shire). I think the more of a jerk he is in a way is his way of showing he cares, but he just can’t express himself. With Paulie, Stallone wrote such a complex character and Burt Young played it brilliantly.

Director John G. Avildsen crafts a gritty and often powerful film. Avildsen would take home the Oscar for best director and he was very deserving. Honestly I’d say Martin Scorsese was the best director for his work on Taxi Driver, but he wasn’t nominated. But that’s not to take anything away from Avildsen who again was deserving. Rocky is well paced and its a very inspiring film and while I would give most of the credit to Stallone’s screenplay and score by Bill Conti, Avildsen’s contributions shouldn’t be under estimated.

Speaking of the score, Bill Conti in my opinion delivers one of if not the greatest score for any film. Conti’s music is so powerful and adds such a layer of depth to an already powerful film.

When people say Stallone is a poor actor I just have to laugh. While sure there are films where his acting wasn’t exactly great though I never really had an issue, but as Rocky Stallone was brilliant. Sly was nominated for the Oscar for best actor, but lost out to Robert De Niro for Taxi Driver and its hard to argue against that since De Niro’s performance is among the greatest of all time, but Sly was every bit as good. The entire cast were excellent and every single one of them brought something to the film and helped elevate it.

Some people were upset at the end that Rocky doesn’t win, but the ending was perfect. Rocky gave Apollo everything he had and lost a split decision and proved to everyone and more importantly himself he wasn’t a bum and could compete with anyone. The ending was brilliant and perhaps the more satisfying ending would be Rocky winning, but he did win by going the distance. As the decision is being announced its in the background as Rocky is calling for Adrian since winning the fight wasn’t the point.

Overall Rocky is truly an American movie classic. It’s such a deep and powerful film and no matter how many times I see it I can’t help but get choked up during certain scenes.

Tony Burton who played Tony, Apollo’s trainer was actually a real boxer winning 4 fights and losing 3 in the light heavy weight division and besides appearing in all 6 Rocky films he also appeared in the John Carpenter cult classic Assault on Precinct 13, which like Rocky was also released in 1976. Joe Spinell best known to horror fans for his role in the 1980 cult classic Maniac appears Tony Gazzo and would return for Rocky II. Spinell was once very close with Stallone and was the godfather to his son Sage Stallone. Also Lloyd Kaufman who runs Troma films also has a very bit part as a drunk Rocky carries into the bar and Kaufman also served as pre-production manager and lastly the boxing choreography was done by Stallone and he would also resume that role in Rocky II & III.

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Amityville II: The Possession (1982) Review

Posted in Amityville II: The Possession with tags , , , , on April 2, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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AMITYVILLE II: THE POSSESSION

** ½ Out 5

Tagline- The Night of February 5, 1976′ George and Kathleen Lutz Fled Their Home in Amityville, New York. They Got Out Alive! Their Living Nightmare Shocked Audiences Around the World in “The Amityville Horror.” But Before Them, Another Family Lived in This House and Were Caught by the Original Evil. They Weren’t So Lucky. This is Their Story!

Release Date- September 24th, 1982

Running Time- 104-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Tommy Lee Wallace

Director- Damiano Damiani

Starring- James Olson, Burt Young, Rutayna Alda, Jack Magner, Diane Franklin

Released in 1982 Amityville II: The Possession is a prequel to the original and the basic premise for the story is the murders that took place in the house by Ronald DeFeo. However don’t go into Amityville II for a bio picture as it only takes the basic idea, but has enough difference to the actual story to be its own film with little connection to the DeFeo murders. The Amityville series in my opinion easily ranks as one of the worst horror franchises; as the series went on they seemed to get worse and worse and really by a certain point the title was used simply as a selling point as a good portion of the series the films don’t even take place in the house. Many fans consider Amityville as the best of the series, but I still go with the original even if that film isn’t exactly great. Amityville II is the best sequel, but that really isn’t saying much since again the franchise is rather dire. Amityville II gets off to a decent enough of start and was fairly good, but the film takes a nosedive and the 2nd half more or less becomes an Exorcist clone.

The Montelli family moves into a new house and not long after arriving Sonny (Magner) gets possessed and the voice tells him to murder his family. The family priest Father Adamsky (Olson) at first ignores the situation, but than begins to feel guilty and does whatever it takes to save Sonny’s soul.

Based off the novel Murder in Amityville by Hans Holzer, the screenplay by Tommy Lee Wallace starts off well enough with some decent family drama, but as the script goes on it becomes a poorly written mess. Even though the first half was the best written it wasn’t without its problems. The film suggests its the house causing the family problems, but even before they step foot into the house its established that Anthony is a abusive. Its clear early on the Montelli family is a bit dysfunctional so the scenes in which it makes it seem like the house is to blame really doesn’t make sense. If anything the house only escalated things. We also have an incest subplot, which was just odd. The incest starts after Sonny gets possessed but what’s Patricia’s excuse? But the very first scene with the two there is something sexual about their relationship and like the family drama, the script seems to suggest its the house and Sonny’s possession, but from the very beginning there is some sexual tension between Sonny and his sister so the blaming of the house as the script suggests doesn’t make much sense.

Director Damiano Damiani brings a nice European feel to the film early on and the first half of the film gets off to a good start with some nice atmosphere and an eerie tone, but as the film goes on it begins to become a sloppy mess devoid of any suspense or tension and feels like a totally different film with a totally different director. The pacing of the film is strong early on as again it does have an eerie tone, but the 2nd half besides lacking any thrills is a poorly paced mess. The strongest scene of the film is when Sonny kills his family as it has a somewhat of an unsettling time only brought down by the silly F/X of Sonny’s face showing his possessed. Overall its like two different directors made this film as the 1st half of the film and 2nd half are so different in tone. While the direction falls flat as a whole the first half of the film is worth viewing this film.

Overall Amityville II has its moments and I can see the appeal of the film. Like I said I enjoyed the first half of the film, but the 2nd half was very sluggishly paced and can at least for me be quite a chore to sit through. While the film doesn’t come highly recommend Amityville II does have its moments, just not nearly enough. Apparently some of the screenplay was rewritten by cult writer Dardano Sacchetti best known for his work with Lucio Fulci on such films as Zombi 2, City of the Living Dead and New York Ripper are just a few of his many credits.

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