My current Top 5

My current Top 5

3/22/2011

Number 73: Rocky (Best Picture Ranking)

Before I saw Rocky for the first time, I really didn’t know what to expect. By now, Sylvester Stallone has such a bad reputation as an actor and Rocky with all its sequels always seemed to me like a copy of Rambo with all its sequels. The fact that, at one time, Sylvester Stallone was a serious, Academy-Award-nominated actor and that the original Rocky was actually a big hit with audiences and critics alike is so perplexing to me that it still surprises me when I think about it.

Anyway, like so many Best Picture winners Rocky has both admirers and opponents. For me, it’s not as bad as I expected it to be but I don’t want to give it too much praise either.

From what I understand, movie goers appreciated the Cinderella-like story and found a lot of warmth and inspiration in this classic underdog-story while other critics like to dismiss Rocky as ‘schmaltz’. Personally, I am on neither side because I really don’t consider anything about Rocky inspirational and I also don’t find anything ‘schmaltzy’ in it – mainly because, while I appreciate realism in a movie and don’t need characters I specifically like, I still need characters I care about and Rocky fails to offer me this. Rocky, Adrian, Paulie, Mickey and Apollo are all characters that lack any sort of reality, depth or plausibility but instead are the results of Sylvester Stallone’s average talent for screenwriting and an ambitious yet unspectacular cast. All this makes Rocky neither inspirational nor schmaltzy for me because John G. Avildsen and Sylvester Stallone lack the necessary talent for a truly inspirational, touching, engaging story and instead create an atmosphere in Rocky that makes it hard to even care for any of the characters. I like that I can enjoy traces of realism in Rocky and, yes, the majestic score, the training montage, the atmosphere of the boxing matches make the ambition and desire of the main character believable but Rocky always remains a rather technical movie without the necessary human story (for me at least, even though most fans of the movie would say exactly the opposite).

It’s not just the problem that the characters are underwritten by Stallone even though he constantly tried to turn them into more, the acting itself is also rather average, especially for a movie that scored four acting nominations. Stallone tries too hard to be Marlon Brando but his limited range prevents him from really balancing all the aspects he wants Rocky to portray but I still give him credit for managing to mix a certain element of sensitivity into his tough guy. Talia Shire is less successful as she manages to overact in her attempt to underact and sometimes makes her Adrian appear like Ingrid Bergman’s Greta Ohlsson – her shyness and awkwardness is too exaggerated and very often the chemistry between her and Stallone doesn’t work either. Both actors obviously try to do the best they can but it too often feels like two average actors trying to impress with their supposedly great but ultimately limited method acting. Burgess Meredith may take the acting crown in Rocky even though I am still not too crazy about him and both Burt Young’s performance and his character still make little sense to me.

I also strongly dislike the way Stallone lets the main plot begin – Apollo Creed wants to fight some guy and picks Rocky because he likes his name? That’s it? Overall, the whole plot too often feels very constructed and lacks a certain natural flow. It’s a simple story about simple people and I do appreciate that, besides the main plot, the movie found some little, more believable moments like Rocky talking to a young girl on the street. And the final scenes are also finally the moments when the story begins to touch my heart – the realism of the boxing fight combined with the, thankfully, not fairytale-like ending and the hug between Rocky and Adrian let the movie end on a high note. Ultimately, Rocky is neither as good nor as bad as usually said – it’s a movie that has its moments but its status as a legendary classic is rather perplexing to me.

8 comments:

Mister Man's Blogspot said...

I really like this film and I think it is great, but I also think it's not really polished in terms of the direction, screenplay, etc. The actors were okay. But I just love it as a whole.

Fritz said...

I think it has some good aspects, but as a whole, I don't care too much for it.
BTW, welcome!

Louis Morgan said...

I really do not have any major problems with the film, besides really Talia Shire who makes Adrien's transformation hard to believe. I thought the characters besides her were believable enough, and I thought the end boxing scenes were quite rousing.

Overall I do think it is fine, and I frankly think the film would have less haters if it did not win Best Picture, but I think it would probably have basically the same amount of lovers.

Fritz said...

I think I may have appreciated it more with a better cast and a better screenplay...as I said, I don't think it's very good but it's not bad either...at this point in my ranking, we have already left the 'bad' movies behind us.

joe burns said...

I don't really care for this movie, I find it dull and boring. Shire is bad too.

dinasztie said...

I like this movie, it's lovely.

BTW I LOVE Stallone's trashy, Saturday night B action flicks. That's why The Expandables was like a holiday for me. :D

Anonymous said...

I like this movie very much,but its very modest in every department and i would've never considered it for Oscars,especially in a such revolutionary year like 1976.(According to American film institute this is 57th greatest movie of all time.Sophie's choice is 91st.God help us!)

Anthony said...

"Rocky" is one of the most overrated films ever made and its legendary status stems only from its story, which we Americans seem to eat up a lot, but its Best Picture over "Taxi Driver" or "Network" is absolutely atrocious! I would actually go as far to say that John G. Avildsen winning Best Director is the worst Best Director win of all time, as well. Horrible win....