Thursday, 22 December 2011

Rocky 2, The Rockening

I admit that I've already written about the film Rocky, but I just can't stop thinking about it. The reason for this is simple: every review I read of it is glowing and it bored the pants off of me. This leads me to believe that I'm missing something. But the more I analyse it, the more I come to the inescapable conclusion that Film World is in the grip of a mass delusion and that I am right, a lone voice in the wilderness. I suppose this makes me Film Karl Marx.
"Expertly paced, benefiting from well-drawn characters and an evocative, often funny script, ROCKY simply pushes all the right buttons"
The Eighth Virgin Film Guide (1999)
This quote comes from their four-out-of-five star review, meaning that they consider Rocky "excellent". But it isn't! It is daft.

Rocky Balboa, as you may recall him from yesterday's post

Who is Rocky supposed to be? He's a socially-conscious man who is down with the poor and the disenfranchised yoof, but his job is to break people's knees for a debt collector. And he's not very good at that, social consciousness gets in the way. And although he's poor and never made much of himself, he doesn't seem down about it. He's happy in his own little pond, with his turtles.  If this is meant to be a great tale of redemption, it's happening to somebody who doesn't need or want it.

Maybe Rocky is on a messianic quest to die for all our sins by getting his face beaten to a pulp? This was a key element to Raging Bull, Jake La Motta seeking punishment and justification from his in-ring beatings. And he certainly does get a beating. So does Apollo Creed. Their title bout is almost certainly the most brutal boxing encounter I have ever seen. Every single punch gets through, as if The Penguin out of Batman had malevolently suggested that blocking was for big blouse-wearing poofters. The punishment meted out to both fighters in the first 30 seconds of the first round alone would normally be sufficient to see the ambulances being called.

But Rocky Balboa accepts his lot, be it beating up Hobo Joe Ratboy in a Church mission centre or fighting for the Heavyweight Championship of the World (this would never happen, but still, we must remember that it's a film and in films anything can happen). He tries his best, whether his opponent enters the ring on a horse or whether they bring their own Thermos. He's happy to make a crust from boxing. He doesn't care if he could have been a contender, could have been somebody. He's just happy to get some money for cigarettes.

Even the introduction of a love-interest doesn't seem to be the motivating factor. He's happy to do this for himself and then go home for a little wuggle. Although I have to say, Rocky's success in bringing the autistically-shy Adrian (that's a man's name) out of her shell is far better than any 300 lb man who punches beef for a living had a right to expect. I think Rocky Balboa's real calling was social work. A missed opportunity. In between punches, he could have waylaid Apollo Creed by asking him about his mother.

Maybe I'm over-thinking this (I am). But really, why would anyone really worship a film that falls apart under even the most basic scrutiny possible, i.e. by me, an idiot? My expectations of a film are not that high. I love shit films. I have already written about my love of the oeuvre of Mr. Renny Harlin and Snakes on a Plane. I don't ask for much. But then, I also love good films, films that change the pace of the world, alter your perceptions and make you think. I wonder if perhaps the reason Rocky has disappointed me so much is that it resolutely falls in between these two camps. I can cope with stupidity and I can cope with genius. Mediocrity makes me nervous.

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