January 15th 2016
Craig Fairbrass as a hitman forced to defend his family from his employers
Leonardo DiCaprio’s successful bid for an Oscar
A 5 year old and his mum, Brie Larson, escape the room he’s be trapped in all his life and she wins an Oscar.
2013’s ‘Grudge Match’ saw Stallone and DeNiro as two boxers coaxed out of retirement for one last bout. Those expecting to see 2 pensioners battering one another with bags of Werthers originals in an effort to bolster their income to pay for a new stair lift were instead treated to the unedifying sight of what was little better than a nauseous moob –fest.
So it’s with a degree of trepidation that Stallone is back boxing again by resurrecting for the seventh time his Rocky Balboa character after what many thought would be his last outing in 2006’s ‘Rocky Balboa’ about …ur….Rocky Balboa .
Here however he plays support to Michael B Jordan as Adonis Johnson (which sounds more like a porn star name than a boxer’s) the son of an ex- opponent Apollo Creed who died having taken a battering in the ring , the boxing ring obviously (‘that’s enough innuendo’- Ed). Having refused to take the Creed family name and presumably to show that not all boxers are brain dead before they start a bout we find him working in the heady world of finance before realising that taking a fist in the ring may not be as painful as it sounds (‘That’s you’re last warning’ – Ed). Unable to find a trainer he moves out to Philadelphia to track down Rocky himself who he finds still running a restaurant having decided that he’d been licked in the ring once too often ( ‘That’s it -you’re fired!’ – Ed). On finding out the young fighter’s real identity and the debt he feels he owes his old adversary he decides to train the young Adonis. It’s from here that story takes in a burgeoning love story between the young boxer and his musician neighbour as well as an unexpected story twist that affects Rocky. As with all the films in the franchise it culminates in an epic boxing match in Everton’s football ground this time against real life boxer Tony Bellew as the misleadingly monikered Pretty Ricky Conlan replete with a scouse accent that jars with a traditional Hollywood film to such a degree you expect him to burst into, ‘Ferry cross the Mersey’ at any moment.
This is the first in the Rocky franchise that the Italian Stallion had not written and writer/director Ryan Coogler , who was only 29 when he wrote and directed this, pays due reverence to the past and handles the reins admirably especially in a final fight which is exhilarating, exciting and edge of your seat stuff. Jordan is personable enough in the title role although the character does regrettably fall into some standards tropes of boxers having trigger hair tempers and thankfully Coogler only once feels that his black actor should be accompanied by rap music which is mercifully brief. For the rest of the music score composer Ludwig Goransson samples the Rocky signature tune in a various guises and though there’s no ‘Eye of the Tiger’ MOR soft rock theme tune there is a lamentable song which mercifully is over the end credits so you can escape without listening to too much of it.
With the US tucking into Thanskgiving dinner when this was released last year it may not have been the only Turkey they could have had that day. Thankfully this is a decent addition to the franchise and should ensure a certain longevity.
At the end one asks the other, ‘How does it look? The other answers, ‘Not bad at all’.
They’re right – this is not bad at all.