Monday, December 11, 2006

Rocky In For One More Round

Rocky Balboa, Sylvester StalloneSylvester Stallone returns as Rocky Balboa in the sequel of the same name. When I first heard of this project I (like many others) thought it was a silly idea. I just couldn't see how it could work -- I was a bit embarrassed. However, a funny thing has happened. RB is gaining some steam. Most bloggers like the trailers and the mainstream press is starting to get behind this picture as well.

Balboa is an aging fighter who feels in his heart that he still has some fight left and, more importantly, owes it to himself to get back in the ring to regain the sense of identity he once had as a champion. Stallone is, well, the same guy. As a movie star, his career has been on the mat for some years now but, it would seem, is not quite down for the count. In fact, from the look of things, Stallone stands a very fair chance of reestablishing himself as a Hollywood player.

But, really, is that what he wants? From the tone of the picture, which is written by Stallone (who also wrote the Oscar-winning "Rocky"), this story is about making a comeback not for personal gain but for personal fulfillment. The same tone can be found in Mr. Stallone's recent comments. In his interview with Sean Smith at Newsweek Stallone says:

"It nags me that I took the easy way instead of the high road. But everyone makes mistakes. I look around at people my age, and I can see it in their eyes--a kind of bittersweet reflection: 'I didn't live the life that I wanted, and now I've got all this stuff I want to say, but nobody wants to hear it.' I was feeling that, and if you don't get it out, it can become a beast that tears you apart."

You hear that and you think 'Well, talk is cheap...' But, Stallone isn't just talking, is he? At age 60 he's got a picture due for Christmas release -- a sequel coming 30 years after the original. Just look at the above still. Come on, who looks that good at that age? How many sixty-year-olds can throw a punch? How many actors can carry a movie at Stallone's age?

Watch the trailers and tell me they don't look good. That cool 'go get 'em' trumpet intro, that cool 'go get 'em' dialogue, and some very nice looking fight sequences. You gotta like it.

Out of curiosity I listened to the NPR interview with Stallone and was surprised by how smooth and articulate he is. I'll admit that's not what I was expecting. This guy has it together and you can't help but want to see the movie after hearing him talk about it. Not only that, but there's something in his voice that says he knows he has a winner -- like a guy who has a lot of money down on a sure thing.

I'm thinking "Rocky Balboa" will do very nice business. A lot of bloggers are issuing a lot of rude (and poorly written) comments about Mr. Stallone and his implausible sequel, but as Sly says, 'It ain't over till it's over'. A little cheesy perhaps, but I can't agree more. It's easy to take shots but talk is, after all, so very cheap. Frankly, I hope the naysaying pretty-boys of the blogosphere get the shit kicked out of them. They certainly deserve it.

When released December 20, "Rocky Balboa" is in contention with a couple heavy-weights -- "Letters From Iwo Jima" and "Eragon" -- as well as some artsy offerings, but I wouldn't be surprised to see this upstart sequel come out on top. Nonetheless, no matter how Mr. Stallone's new movie does at the box office, he has accomplished what few actors his age would dare to attempt and, as a result, he has already made an admirable showing. Cynicism is more than convenient and resting on one's laurels is par for the course, but taking your best shot against the odds calls for a real champion. CUE TRUMPET INTRO. Hats off, Sly. Go get 'em Rocky.

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