Last of the Monster Kids

Last of the Monster Kids
"LAST OF THE MONSTER KIDS" - Available Now on the Amazon Kindle Marketplace!

Saturday, August 13, 2016


During the production of “Rocky II,” Sylvester Stallone gave an interview where he talked about the possibility of a third film. He said that “Rocky” was likely to be a trilogy, with the story probably concluding with Rocky’s death. Considering we now live in a world with at least seven “Rocky” movies, these comments come off as comical. By the time “Rocky III” was released, Sylvester Stallone’s approach had changed. It was now the big, bold eighties. Sly was now a superstar. “Rocky III” adapted to these changes, turning the franchise into the beast we now remember it as.

Following his victorious second bout with Apollo Creed, Rocky Balboa becomes the Champion. His reign as the best boxer in his field continues for six years. Rocky becomes a celebrity, buying a mansion for his wife and son. He’s also becomes an icon, thanks to countless merchandising deals. A new challenger emerges, far hungrier for the championship. Clubber Lang’s determination to best Balboa concludes when he soundly beats Rocky in a match. He also indirectly causes the death of Mickey. Beaten and broken, Rocky now trains with Apollo, looking to reclaim his desire to win.

“Rocky III” represents the eighties-fication of Rocky Balboa. The public’s perception of the series, with its endless sequels and increasingly unlikely boxing matches, was cemented here. The surroundings are bigger. Rocky gets over the stage fright seen in part two, becoming a commercial star. He’s no longer an outsider, with a wife and kid, surrounded by friends and family. The shy Adrian of the original films is gone, replaced with a classy and outspoken woman. The stakes of the series have changed too. Rocky now fights an increasingly overblown enemy, to avenge the death of his trainer. The slow motion laden direction, more outrageous training montages, and even bigger fight scenes makes the transformation clear. The naturalistic drama of the original is long gone. “Rocky” is now a crowd-pleasing blockbuster, belonging totally to the decade.

If one believes that Rocky Balboa’s story arc is directly related to Sylvester Stallone’s career, “Rocky III” represents another major change. Rocky has won and is resting comfortably at the top. Following the success of “Rocky II,” Stallone’s status as a box office star was confirmed. Yet Rocky looses his initial fight with Lang because he’s lost the hunger. The Eye of the Tiger, as Apollo and the infectious theme song put it. An intense argument with Adrian and Apollo’s training regime allows Rocky to regain his fighting spirit. Stallone, meanwhile, was fearful of loosing the drive that got the first “Rocky” made. In time, Sly would sell out, making shitty movies for big paydays. But he wasn’t willing to compromise yet and that desire shined through in the script for ‘Rocky III.”

The first two “Rocky” movies had a colorful villain. Apollo Creed was definitely a showman and a braggart. He also had some common humanity, as shown by his regret and anger in “Rocky II.” The third “Rocky” film, however, has a comic book supervillain as an adversary. Clubber Lang snorts fire. All his dialogue relates to his desire to humble Balboa, except for a line about propositioning Adrian. He trains in a dungeon like basement, yelling as he does crunches. Mr. T, the once and future B.A. Baracus, is a flamboyant performer of limited range but intense charisma. He plays Lang as an iron-willed sociopath, whose entire life revolves around crushing his enemy. It’s not especially subtle or realistic. However, it’s certainly entertaining. (Despite his previous appearance in “Penitentiary II,” Mr. T gets an “And Introducing” credit.)

The decision to kill off Mickey also represents Sly’s need to continuously up the series’ stakes. Burgess Meredith’s exit produces a moment both saddening and comical, when Stallone blubbers unintelligibly. It also opens the door for Apollo Creed becoming Rocky’s trainer. Once bitter enemies, Apollo and Rocky soon become inseparable bros. He moves Balboa to L.A., training him a gritty gym. His attempts to teach Stallone rhythm stymies at first, rather comically. Before too long, Creed and Balboa are running on a beach in slow motion. Their tiny shorts and shirts ride up, revealing their glistening, buff bodies. They then leap into each other’s arms, amid the splashing waves. Yes, it’s pretty hilariously overwrought and properly homoerotic. Yet it still makes me laugh too much not to love.

As with the first sequel, Sylvester Stallone also directed “Rocky III.” The directorial style is similar, utilizing quite a bit of slow motion and plenty of quick cutting montages. This is most apparent during the film’s boxing matches. The first match is over quickly, emphasizing the punishing power of Lang’s punches. The climatic second round features more build-up to the actual fight. Once it begins, Stallone eagerly cuts between the inside of the ring and the outside. We see the struggle between the two fighters, the camera weaving around them. We also see Rocky’s friends, family, and the announcers watching from the audience. Clubber Lang, of course, doesn’t go the distance. Rocky puts him down in a few rounds, having regained the Eye of the Tiger. It’s slightly underwhelming, that the match doesn’t last longer. Still, after establishing Lang as the ultimate bad ass, it’s somewhat satisfying seeing Rocky defeat him.

“Rocky III” is a much sillier movie then its predecessors. The cameo from Hulk Hogan as pro-wrestler Thunderlips should make that much apparent. It lacks the dramatic soundness of the first one or the smart sequel writing of the second. Instead, it’s a cornball, crowd-pleasing bit of boxing spectacle. That gives it value in its own way. Any movie that brings us Survivor telling us to meet the challenge of our rivals can’t be all bad. [7/10]

[X] Frank Stallone or Frank Stallone-esque Inspirational Music
[X] Incapacitates or Kills Someone With His Body
[X] Shows Off Buffness
[] Social Outcast
[X] Sweaty, Veiny Yelling

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