Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Movie Review: "Rocky III" (1982)

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Movie"Rocky III"
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Year: 1982
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 39 minutes

Since defeating Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), Rocky's (Sylvester Stallone) career has finally begun to flourish. He's had 10 title defenses, multiple endorsement deals, and is now living life in the limelight. Now, a new contender named Clubber Lang (Mr. T) has risen through the ranks and is hungry for his shot at the title. Rocky must prove he still has the hunger, the determination, and the drive to beat his latest challenger, and he might have to turn to an old enemy for help. 

The "Rocky" series has dealt with many aspects of a boxer's career. "Rocky" was the true underdog story of a man who was given the opportunity of a lifetime and falls just inches away attatining greatness after a hard-fought, uphill training battle. "Rocky II" showed how little Rocky had to show for the amazing efforts he put forth in the first film, as well as his continuing financial struggles post title shot. It also dealt with his eventual rise to the top and actually winning the world title in a come-from-behind victory. Now, here we are at "Rocky III," which again, follows the same formula in a truncated version of the first two films. Rocky, once again played by Sylvester Stallone, is now the undisputed, 10-time defending champion and has everything he has always wanted financially: a big house, tons of nice cars, the motorcycle he always wanted, even a statue in Philadelphia in commemoration of his sports efforts. With all that fame and fortune comes his loss of privacy, extremely high expectations, his loss of hunger to win, and a big fat target on his back. As a more civilized suit wearing type of man, he has to find a way to get that 'eye of the tiger' back the way he had it when he was living hand to mouth. Much of "Rocky III" can be summed up with the word "montage." The 80's were known for montages, and this is the truest of true for "Rocky III." As this film progresses, there are multiple training montages, as well as a bummer remix and self-reflective montage. Partially because of this, there is far less meat to the story itself, especially when considering Stallone, once again the writer, star, and director, seems to have put little effort into crafting anything of substantial difference other than his rival. This is not to say the film is void of all drama, because it isn't. There are a couple of scenes with some emotional punch but it doesn't quite have the tenacious bite of the previous film, and it's also far cry from the original "Rocky." One of the higher points in this film is that we get a better look into the character of Apollo Creed, played again by Carl Weathers, beyond the Muhammad Ali archetype. We get see him as a person and understand his mentality more, finding out as the audience what drives his character and how he comes to grips with losing his last fight with Rocky. Stallone as Rocky plays the same, slightly mumble-mouthed protagonist, just with flashier stuff than the previous films. Finally, the main opponent Clubber Lang, played by Mr. T in his film debut, certainly had the 80's tough guy look down. If you thought Apollo Creed was a hype master and crap talker, well, you've never seen Clubber Lang talk. He is a master mean mugger, the ultimate boxing villain filled with a nasty mouth but the skills to pay the bills. Unfortunately, though all the talk, it never felt that Lang was Rock's toughest test ever, no matter how often the movie wanted us to believe he was. This time around, Rocky's struggles had less to do with Lang's talent and more to do with his internal struggle for desire and the feeling of loss when one of his closest allies passes away. Rocky's mental state was gone from the beginning of Rock and Lang's first fight, and no amount of montages can fake heart and desire in a man. In the end, "Rocky III" is an unfortunate formulaic sequel and a definite step down from its predecessors. Again, there are still a couple of entertaining moments, but with a less relateable Rocky in the lead role, it never quite feels like the odds are as stacked against him as they were in the past.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 61%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
To see our review of "Rocky," click here.

To see our review of "Rocky II," click here.

To see our review of "Rocky IV," click here.

To see our review of "Rocky V," click here.

To see our review of "Rocky Balboa," click here.

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