Merrick doesn’t understand why Stallone replaced that cute little squirrel…
Jared-Syn City e-mailed a report from last night’s screening of ROCKY BALBOA.
It should be noted that the film is slated for a late November release in Philadelphia, and will be issued Christmas Day everywhere else in America. As such, many of the criticisms Jared voices below may be addressed before the film’s final cut.
Or, maybe they won’t.
Either way, here’s Jared..
!!!BEWARE HEAVY SPOILERS!!!
Hey Aint it Cool peeps,
I went to go and see Poseidon on Friday and there was a guy there giving out passes to a Monday night sneak preview of ROCKY BALBOA.
I was excited, my girlfriend maybe not so much, but we signed up via the internet that night. We had to be between 17 and 49. When we got there we gave our names and ages again, and got put through a search for camera phones and the like with a hand held metal detector.
Some of the seats were taped off, but the theatre was quite full. Around movie time one of the staff got in front of the audience and told us that this was the first preview for this movie. He gave us the speech about how any reproduction of this film is a federal crime…yada,yada,yada. He told us to stay in our seats afterward to fill out the survey.
NON SPOILER SUMMARY – Right now it is pretty disappointing. There are some serious edits and pacing issues that need to be resolved before November. Keep in mind that this was the very first preview of the movie. Even in its current form it is 600 times better that Rocky V. There is some serious hope that this could be a very good or even great movie with some edits to it. No Mr. T cameo. No Talia Shire cameo. Fantastic performances by Stallone and Burt Young. Rocky and Paulie have some of the best scenes in the whole series in this movie.
The movie starts out with the trailer that was released a little bit ago with the close up on Rocky’s sweaty face talking about how it’s not how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit. If you don’t like this speech, well then tough luck because it is repeated almost word for word two more times throughout the movie. We are then treated to the usual ROCKY opening with the words scrolling across the screen and the memorable Bill Conti music. If you are a Rocky fan you will like this moment, but those moments are unfortunately far an in-between in this rough cut.
The movie then shows Rocky getting up in his house in Philly, and going about his usual routine. He goes with Paulie to visit Adrian’s grave. This is a touching scene and both Stallone and Burt Young do a phenomenal acting job throughout the Movie. Rocky goes to visit his son, who says that he casts a “large shadow” and we see that he is not really happy about being the son of the famous boxer.
We see the restaurant that Rocky owns, called “Adrian’s” Spider Rico is a regular guest and Rocky lets him eat for free every time. Rocky and Paulie drive around town to visit all of the places that remind Rocky of Adrian. The pet shop, their old house, the ice skating rink. There is some more great work between Sly and Young when Paulie tells Rocky that he just can’t do this anymore. Rocky then goes to a tavern and meets “Little Marie” the little girl who he walked home in the first move. He drives her home and meets her son, Steps.
The whole middle of the move is convoluted and desperately need some editing. Rocky attempts to befriend Steps by giving him a job and a dog. All of this seems so unnecessary and goes absolutely nowhere. Rocky and Little Marie get closer and closer, but Rocky tells her that although his wife is gone, he is still married. They share a brief kiss in the film, but never allude to anything overly romantic, which is good because the movie hits you over the head with Adrian being gone, so it would have felt out of place. We see various scenes of Rocky Jr. ignoring his dad and we also see Rocky make at least, no kidding here, 4 more trips of Adrian’s grave.
The Mason Dixon character played by Antonio Tarver is about as cardboard as can be. They never try to make you hate him, like a Clubber Lang, but they don’t paint him as a good guy either. They do a silly thing on ESPN where a computer says Rocky would beat Dixon in a fight if both fighters were in their prime. This is accompanied with some unrealistic computer animation that got some chuckles from the audience. They talk about it on the 1st and Ten show on ESPN and pretty much say that Rocky was and is a bum. Rocky doesn’t take well to this.
Rocky decides that he wants to go back into boxing and there are three great scenes with Rocky Jr. telling him that it is a mistake, Paulie telling him that he hasn’t been the same since Adrian left him and Rocky tearfully says “She didn’t leave me Paulie, she Died” (This is the best scene in the move, really great acting by both and very moving) and another great scene where Rocky gets his license back from the athletic committee after they originally tell him that they won’t license him.
Dixon’s people then contact Rocky about the fight and Rocky is blown away by the offer. He says that he wants to just do some local stuff and wasn’t thinking about something that big. Eventually he decides that “fighter’s fight” after talking to Marie. After he takes the fight there is a big scene with him and Rocky Jr. that is pretty good about their relationship and how Jr. blames Sr. for all his woes. The next day Rocky Jr. meets Sr. at….Adrian’s grave and the reconcile with Jr. telling pop that he quit his job and that he wants to be with him for this fight. Semi – cheesy, but forgivable. There is a rather boring press conference with Dixon and Rocky that goes nowhere.
We then see Tony Duke training Rocky. It starts with a funny scene with Duke telling him that he doesn’t have speed or mobility thanks to his age, but he has strength and that is going to be what they focus on. We see Rocky lifting weights to the “Take it back” song. Then FINALLY we get to see Rocky training to “Gonna Fly Now” running up the stairs with his new dog and, of course, drinking raw eggs. This got a great reaction from the audience. The movie really needs more of these moments.
From there we go to the fight. There is an exchange between Rocky and Mason where Mason says that he will take it easy, but if he has to he will hurt Rocky. Rocky says something like “A lot of people come to Vegas to lose, but I didn’t” Fight time with the whole HBO PPV treatment, all of the graphics and music feel legit and Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant and Max Kellerman provide the commentary.
Rocky enters the ring to Sinatra singing “High Hopes” which was done for comedy, but it felt almost too silly. Mike Tyson is in the audience and Rocky says hi, the announcers and the setting are much more realistic that any other Rocky movie. Dixon comes out to boos and even has a verbal tussle with Tyson before the fight gets under way. The music that is played here MUST be temporary because it would be so much better with the Conti music.
There is some stuff where it goes black and white and only the blood is red. I don’t think this works like Sly wanted it to; it just comes off as distracting. In the final round Rocky almost gets knocked out, but gets back up to finish the round. Again, different music would have made this scene work much, much better.
The fight is over and Rocky. . . LOSES the fight via a split decision. I know we are going for realism, but it’s Rocky for God’s sake! Oh well. Rocky walks back to the dressing room and stands in the spotlight while the crowd chants ROCKY…ROCKY…ROCKY… He stands in the spotlight a moment to soak it all up. This is actually a very good, well shot scene with genuine emotion.
The final scene takes place at… Adrian’s grave. We see Rocky putting some roses on her tombstone, say a few words, and then finish by softly saying “Yo, Adrian we did it”
THE GOOD: Stallone gives a fantastic performance here. He doesn’t play Rocky like the punch drunk buffoon that he was in Rocky V. The story is actually pretty realistic, the Boxing scenes look genuine and the HBO and ESPN moments lend some credibility. Burt Young also has some great one liners ( Rocky – Hey Paulie we are just about to serve the special. Paulie – Hey Rocko, Italian food cooked by a bunch of Mexicans ain’t that special) and the scenes with him and Sly are great. The rare moments that we were treated to the familiar Rocky music were a treat and there was applause and cheers from the crowd.
THE BAD: Some MAJOR editing needs to be done. There are some scenes that screech the movie to a halt. There are seriously 6 or 7 trips to Adrian’s grave. After a while they lose their emotional impact. WE GET IT! She’s dead and he misses her! The Steps character has to go. He has no place and that whole storyline goes nowhere. When we were filling out our survey cards in the audience, what I kept hearing over and over again was that no one liked Steps. The movie in its current form is WAY too long.
There are times when it felt more like an ABC mini-series than a movie. Mason Dixon is neither a sympathetic character, nor a convincing bad guy. Tarver does a good job, but he has nothing to work with. The Music needs some pumping up, but I assume that this soundtrack will all be replaced.
There is a VERY GOOD movie in there, but in its current form it is absolutely mediocre. With some edits to make the movie shorter, some better music, and some more genuine “Rocky” type moments this could be a very good movie. Stallone gives a great performance here.
It will be interesting to see what changes are made when it is released in November.