Archive for Talia Shire

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 III (1982) Review

Posted in Rocky III with tags , , , , on November 4, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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ROCKY III

*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- The Greatest Challenge

Release Date- May 28th, 1982

Running Time- 99-Minutes

Rating- PG

Writer/Director- Sylvester Stallone

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

Released in 1982 Rocky III took the series in a new direction. The first two were gritty and raw looking films, but this one was a lot more stylized and very much more Hollywood. As popular as the first two were this film pushed Rocky into pop culture icon and became the highest grossing of the series (until Rocky IV passed it in 1985). Rocky III is a fan favorite among fans of the series and while I do enjoy the film its also in my opinion the weakest of the series, but even a weaker Rocky film still provides plenty of entertainment.

Rocky III was the first in the series made in the 80s and its very much a product of its time. The 70s and 80s were my favorite era in film and as great as the 80s were some films were overly cheesy and Rocky III falls somewhere in the middle. Like I said the series sort of went in a new direction and while many elements from the first two are still present it also sort of feels like the start of a new series. Even though I didn’t love this film as much as the first two I do however think Sly made the right choice but mixing up the formula and while Rocky III doesn’t feel fresh it also doesn’t feel like a rehash either.

After winning the heavyweight title Rocky (Stallone) is at the height of his popularity as he appears on magazines, TV and even has a statue built in his honor and has had several successful title defenses. Clubber Lang (Mr. T) an up and coming challenger winning fight after fight calls out Rocky and a match is set up. However Rocky doesn’t take it serious and is unfocused while training as Clubber puts himself through tough training sessions. Clubber knocks out Rocky and making matters worse Mickey (Meredith) passes away. Rocky now hits rock bottom and loses all faith in himself and former foe Apollo Creed (Weathers) reaches out to Rocky to try and help him win back his title and respect.

The screenplay by Stallone is well written, but never as strong as the first two. This part started the villain aspect to the series. Some labeled Apollo a villain, but I really don’t see where people got that. He was arrogant and brash, but never unlikable. Clubber Lang however is very much the villain and Mr. T quite imposing. What I love about the script (and all the Rocky films for that matter) is the characters continue to be developed. With the popularity of the series, Sly simply could have taken the easy way out and just rehash the past two, but he does continue to develop all the characters. Rocky seems a bit more educated here and we see the other side of Apollo. Adrian (Shire) also is a bit different as she seems far more confident in herself. Stallone in my opinion is very underrated as a writer and people forget he is an Oscar nominated writer. He knows what his audience wants and for the most part with Rocky III he delivers. This may not be Oscar worthy like the original and sure the story is starting to running thin and at times certain parts of the script a little forced, but Stallone the great writer he is still manages to deliver an overall well written script.

Like how I find Stallone an underrated writer he’s also an underrated director. Stallone to me is a great director because he’s a guy that knows exactly what his fans want. While Rocky III can be a bit silly in spots (the wrestling match) and perhaps even a bit sappy in spots as well, Sly delivers a fun and fast paced film. Running at 99-minutes Rocky III never outstays its welcome. This isn’t Stallone’s best directed film (Rocky Balboa & Rambo are in my opinion), but Stallone still does a solid job. Like I said the film can be a bit silly and sappy, but never lacks in the fun factor. Rocky III isn’t gonna go down as a masterfully directed film, but when all is said and done Stallone gets it done.

Quite honestly I also find Stallone underrated as an actor. He was nominated for best actor for Rocky and for very good reason. As his career went on sure his performances weren’t all great, but in such films as Rocky and First Blood Stallone was excellent. Here in Rocky III I personally found this his weakest performance in the series, but he was still pretty good. Mr. T by all accounts is a very nice guy and he’s got that smile that can light up a room its so warm and friendly, but as Clubber Lang nothing is nice about him and he’s very imposing. However its Burt Young as Paulie that steals the show. Young is hysterical as Paulie and while he could at times be a jerk in the first two, its Rocky III when he becomes lovable.

Overall Rocky III is a fun film and while I do enjoy it I do again feel this one was the weakest. Stallone created such great characters and that in part makes up for some of the flaws. Rocky III does sort of lack a lot of what made the original so great, but when all is said and done Rocky III is an entertaining film nothing less and nothing more.

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Rocky II (1979) Review

Posted in Rocky II with tags , , , , on November 2, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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ROCKY II

**** Out of 5

Tagline- The Story Continues

Release Date- June 15th, 1979

Running Time- 119-Minutes

Rating- PG

Writer/Director- Sylvester Stallone

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

Released in 1979 Rocky II is one of the rare sequels that lives up to the original and while as a whole Rocky II isn’t as good as the original it very much stands proudly next to it. For the most part sequels aren’t really needed and I don’t think Rocky really needed one as the first was pretty much perfection. But if a sequel is to be made Rocky II is a good example to follow. The budget for Rocky II was a lot higher than the original, but the film still retains its gritty look. Sylvester Stallone takes over as director and would remain in that role throughout the rest of the series (except Rocky V) and there really was no one better suited to direct this film since Stallone did create these truly memorable characters. Stallone made his directorial debut the year before this with Paradise Ally, which I haven’t seen, but here with Rocky II, Stallone shows he’s as good a director as he is a writer. The Rocky series has reached iconic status and as popular as the first two were 3 & 4 were sort of the ones that made the series iconic in pop culture. Sometimes I think people forget just how good the first two movies were.

After proving he’s not a bum and can compete against the best Rocky (Stallone) retires from boxing partly due to an eye injury he sustained. Rocky and Adrian (Shire) get married and with the money Rocky made from the fight goes on a spending spree. But soon the money runs out and Rocky has a tough time finding a job and behind to work in the gym run by Mick (Meredith) and is the ridicule of certain fighters there and wanting to help out a pregnant Adrian gets her job back at the pet shop. Apollo Creed (Weathers) is getting hate mail saying the fight was fixed or that he lost wants a rematch to prove the first fight was a fluke. Despite his people warning him to stay away Creed sets out to humiliate Rocky until he accepts and that along with needing the money Rocky agrees and the rematch of the century is on.

The screenplay by Stallone is excellent and the tagline The Story Continues is very true. Sly doesn’t rehash the original even if the script shares a lot in common with the original in terms of structure. Characters continue to be developed, which is something that can be rare as most sequels it seems just rely on the original, but with characters and story, Stallone stays true, but continues to develop both. The script for Rocky II is often deep and quite funny and Stallone deserves far more credit as a screenwriter. The underdog story is still present, but I think we all knew how this one would turn out. Like the original Sly writes another really feel good film and Sly truly is such a gifted writer.

As director Stallone is really underrated. Sometimes I wonder if people are aware that he often writes or co-writes his films as well as sometimes directing. While again I think the original was the better film, but I’d go as far to say Rocky II is a little better made than the original. Sly does a great job in keeping in tune with the original without copying what Avildsen did in the original, but at the end of the day the first two work more due to the writing. The pace for the film is quite strong as each scene moves the film along in either character or story. However the scenes when Adrian is in the hospital the pace does begin to drag just a little bit and even if these are important scenes in regards to the characters I think it could have been trimmed down a bit. Stallone directs a winner and Rocky II is every bit as deep and powerful as the original and Sly shows not only is he a terrific writer, but equally as good of a director.

Overall Rocky II is an excellent film that again while not as good as the original can easily stand proudly next to it. I love 70s cinema and its easily my favorite era and films like Rocky II is the reason. The performances are wonderful and like I said its just such a feel good film and so inspirational.

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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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