IHAO on ... Rocky III

I have to say right now, that this poster is so subtly good for the themes of this movie.  I've seen it before, but never understood all the nuance hidden in it.  Great poster.

Stallone gets better and better at making the fights in these films just be more and more dynamic.  And as I expected, he really knows how to make great characters.  We get so much more Apollo Creed, and we get to meet Clubber Lang, who is introduced to us in another amazing opening sequence.  Unlike the last two times, where we travel through the streets of Philadelphia, we get the Eye of the Tiger and we see a montage of the past three years with Rocky as champ ... and a very hungry Clubber Lang.

Two things: this film is not as good as the other two in every regard outside of the fights; and the actual story here is impeccable.  It isn't as well written, and Stallone's direction isn't as good, but the actual story that we get is impeccable.  We learn that Rocky has become a huge name, and a huge fighter, making Adrian and his life decadent and fun, as well as life for his son.  But he lost who he was.  Paulie tells us that in the beginning, but no one likes Paulie, including us, so we don't want to believe him.  We want to as an audience continue to have faith in our man, Balboa.  But Paulie was right.  And we go deeper down this rabbit hole as Rocky learns the truth of his past three years, and he loses his faith, and he gets afraid.

I really was hoping, against all hopes, that every movie would just continue to get more and more amazing.  But with a style to emulate, without Stallone trying to do all the symmetry he did in Rocky II, he relied on his own techniques.  And some of them are not very good.  He holds long shots from a distance when we should be intimate with the characters.  He intercuts between three or four scenes when we should be having nice long shots to get in our characters' heads.

Get into their heads like the crazy cheeto popcorn Michael's eatin' over here.  Look at it, it is so weird lookin'!

Don't get me wrong, there are some shots here that are just perfect.  When he, Adrian, Paulie, and Apollo enter Apollo's old gym, and you see the guys there, and you hear Apollo talk about what the "eye of the tiger" actually means, about the hunger, it is downright terrifying, and is shot masterfully.  And the climactic fight with Clubber Lang is perfect in every way.

I have one other problem.  And this one is the most painful for me.  This isn't the same Rocky.  I said last time that when Adrian woke up and told Rocky "Win. Win!" that was when things changed.  But the change was a lot more than I expected.  The change was in the character himself.  Rocky just isn't the same old Rocky any longer.  I think it makes sense, to a certain degree, as he has aged and grown into his new role.  But there aren't any puns and bad jokes.  There isn't this earnest wonder and grandeur of a guy who just isn't that good at speaking or thinking.  Again, a lot of it can be explained with the three years on top ... but not all of it.

Rocky III is not as good as Rocky or Rocky II.  But it is still a damned good movie on its own merits, when not compared to the others.  And I like it a whole bunch as well.  Not as much as the other two, but I do still like it.  I'm getting excited, because Rocky IV has my favorite villain boxer, and is the most ridiculous of them.  But is it GOOD?  We'll find out tomorrow.

Grade: A+

Rocky Movie Review Bank

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