Why Rocky IV is the Greatest Movie Ever Made
by, 03-05-2012 at 10:24 PM (21587 Views)
We here at Killer Reviews always like to joke about the Hollywood knuckleheads pulling the strings. You know who we're talking about. The guys in the suits up on the 30th floor who research popular trends and study demographics and figure out how they can work this stuff into films. You know....reach a larger audience. Make more ka-ching. These are the guys who propose that a giant doughnut should be rolling down the street in 2012. These are also the guys who think Will Smith should punch an alien in the face and say "Welcome to Earth Motherfucker." Why you ask? Because it'll be HILARIOUS! They're not the guys who add a scene in order to evolve the character of Hannibal Lector, nor are they the ones who think a simple handheld camcorder film about ghosts can be successful. Nope...these are the guys in the final hour of production who say...."We should make Clash of the Titans 3-D." I wish I could have been a fly on the wall during the creative meeting for an upcoming movie called Rocky IV. Looking back now, that meeting must have been priceless.
The Rocky movies were a success. Damn successful in fact. But something was happening. The franchise was evolving from respectable, Oscar award winning film making to popcorn, "put people in the seats" type stuff. Seeing First Blood morph into Rambo the killing machine, I guess you can't really blame the progression. Stallone was just that "in demand" as an action star so the progression away from serious plot lines and hard core acting seemed obvious. With the third Rocky movie, it was clear more money could be made with Stallone the action star and other audiences could be reached through guest appearances by wrestlers like Mr. T and Hulk "Thunderlips" Hogan, not to mention the potential for a soundtrack after Survivor's mega-hit "Eye of the Tiger." After watching Rocky IV about 100 times now, it seems clear to me that it's creative staff was more than likely 1) struggling for ideas on a new plot line and 2) bursting with ideas on pop culture, soundtrack potential to work into the film. I imagine the meeting must have gone something like this.
Knucklehead 1 - We gotta have a hit soundtrack. Let's have "Eye of the Tiger" in the film again so we can hit gold a second time around.
Knucklehead 2 - Great idea! And let's have John Cafferty as well. Eddie and the Cruisers was huge and let's see what James Brown is up to. I think he just got out of jail.
Director - Well I was thinking about the plot line and I was thinking maybe Apollo could die?
Knucklehead 1 - What? No. We can't have Apollo die...the fans love him. How about the plot is that Adrian doesn't want Rocky to fight and Paulie drinks too much?
Director - That might be a little redundant. I think we should be bold and kill off Apollo. Killing off Apollo would create so much drama.
Knucklehead 1 - Oh I see...I never thought of it that way. Well how about if Rocky's next opponent kills Apollo?
Knucklehead 2 - Yeah...and we can make him Russian because the USA is afraid the Russians are gonna start a nuclear war. It'll be like USA vs. Russia.
Director - Well that seems extreme, but....
Knucklehead 2 - Nah! Nothing's extreme...it's the 80's man. Also..I was thinking...this upcoming movie Short Circuit is making waves...maybe we should work in a robot somehow?
Knucklehead 1 - Holy shit!! Johnny 5 in Rocky. What a great idea. The kids will love it. It should be Paulie's servant and play music. It could be another way to get a song on the soundtrack.
Director - Oh my God...
Sadly, this is probably how most of these meetings go and most fans of Rocky IV would probably admit that only Hollywood Knuckleheads could concoct such a film as ludicrous as Rocky IV. At the same time, I think most people would also agree that somehow, (possibly through the genius of Stallone's directing) Rocky IV actually works. Somehow...some way...all this craziness works. It works in a big way and this brings me to my five points as to why Rocky IV is the greatest movie of all time!!!!
1) Metal Money Makers - With the rise of computers and arcade games, the 80's was a time of electronic obsession. We even had this crazy idea that robots would eventually do all our work and we could stay at home and collect paychecks. How's that working out for us? Clearly that plan didn't amount to shit, but it did bring us some pretty kick ass 80's movies like Terminator, Robocop, D.A.R.Y.L., Short Circuit and Transformers. So the Hollywood knuckleheads asked the question "If the kiddies like R.O.B. the Robot, why should we not cash in?" Enter Paulie's birthday present: a "female" cyborg servant who even looks like R.O.B. the Robot and who brings him beer, dinner and plays music for him. It's an idea that may be as dumb an idea as the character of Meathead in Meatballs 2, (relax..I love Meathead too) but that's the beauty of Rocky IV. They were just going for it. They were pulling out all the stops. Reason number one why Rocky IV is the greatest movie of all time.
2) The Godfather Arrives - With the success of Survivor's Eye of the Tiger, the creative knuckleheads must have been frothing at the mouth for the soundtrack release. For Rocky IV, they recruited an arsenal of music heavyweights in Survivor, John Cafferty, Kenny Loggins, Glady's Knight and Robert Tepper. In honor of the film's anti-Soviet plot line, they dressed up Apollo Creed head to toe in the stars and stripes and even got the godfather of Soul, James Brown to write Living in America and perform all four minutes and forty three seconds of it on camera. It's a lavish scene with Vegas dancers, fire, explosions, flags, horn lines...a serious production. Ferris Bueller singing Twist and Shout in downtown Chicago, Elizabeth Shue bouncing on a bed to Then He Kissed Me and Tom Cruise parading around in his underwear to Old Time Rock N Roll were pretty blatant attempts to garner soundtrack enthusiasm, but James Brown's Living in America scene is a shining example of 80's over indulgence at it's best. A "spare no expense" philosophy. Second reason why Rocky IV is the greatest movie of all time.
3) The evolution of Paulie and Adrian - Though the Rocky franchise has clearly found success over the years, was there anybody who didn't think the characters of Adrian and Paulie were major buzz kills in an otherwise bad ass series? For the first three films, it seemed like Rocky's writers always struggled over what Adrian should be. She started as this brutal on the eyes, non-speaking introvert early on who evolved into a nagging wet blanket who never believed in her man as the series progressed. Her brother Paulie was a whiny, drunken, pathetic mess like that friend who would always get drunk and talk about how nobody liked him and look for sympathy from anybody who would take the bait. Eventually, one of the knuckleheads got wise and said "Enough with these two. People are tired of this storyline. Can we just say that Rocky's millions afforded them A.A. and counseling and let them be normal people in part four? As a result, Adrian emerges in part four as a confident, dare I say "sexy number" who's not constantly kicking us all in the balls every time we cheer for Rocky. At the same time, Paulie's character got reduced to miniscule; only granting him enough screen time for scattered one liners; similar to the way Peter Jackson castrated the character of Gimli. The only difference is Gimli got hosed, Rocky got better. The near omitting of these two characters meant the bullshit was gone and there was more room for what Rocky fans really care about...FIGHTS and MONTAGES!!!!
4) Montages...Oh how I love me them montages - Not only a staple in 80's movies, montages were always accompanied by music and soundtracks were big business in the 80's; with Top Gun, Dirty Dancing and Purple Rain making it into the top 20 selling albums of the decade. Though there are countless 80's montages, the Rocky franchise arguably may have done them the best. I mean seriously...what is a Rocky movie without a training montage? For Rocky IV, the creative Knuckleheads decided it imperative that Rocky fans should receive no less than two montages. Fortunately we got three. The first incredible montage comes as Rocky gets in his Lamborghini Jalpa to blow off a little steam to Robert Tepper's No Easy Way Out; all the while, craftily getting viewers up to speed through clips from earlier films in the franchise. The second incredibly super montage comes as Rocky is training in the snows of Mother Russia. Bill Conti's familiar Rocky theme has been dispatched and replaced by Vince DiCola's ballsy instrumental with the un-ballsy title of "training montage." It's impossible to not get pumped to DiCola's music while Rocky is doing crunches in the barn rafters, running up mountains and chopping down trees. The falling trees are even cut back to back with flashback clips of Apollo falling to the matte. How symbolic. I told you people, it's the best movie of all time. The third incredibly super duper montage is the mother of all Rocky training montages. None of this "Rocky needs to get the eye of the tiger back" bullshit or "Rocky is too ""Civilized"" to fight Clubber" nonsense. Nope. In Rocky IV, Rocky has the eye of the tiger the second Apollo's melon hits the matte and he's pissed. So pissed that he's outrunning the KGB up a mountain through four feet of snow. This third montage also plays opposite Drago's training and is underscored by another kick ass DiCola instrumental; this time appropriately titled "WAR." Three montages. Three epic moments literally taking up half of the movie. Three of the best montages of all time! Reason number four people.
5) One man against millions - Red Dawn may have started Hollywood's obsession with the Soviet threat in the 80's, but seeing the money it took in, the creative knuckleheads behind Rocky IV wanted in and they wanted to take it to the next level. Dolph Lundgren's entrance as the towering menace Drago starts innocently enough with a demonstration of his super human strength, but it would eventually be decided that they shouldn't do the Russian stereotype any favors and they should turn him into a steroid pumping murderer by movie's end. Drago wasn't doing himself any favors either 20 minutes in by standing over Apollo's corpse and stating "If he dies, he dies." Probably one of the most hilariously entertaining and nationally defaming moments in 80's movie history. Overall, the knuckleheads decide to use Rocky's bout as a symbol for the USA/Soviet arms race. A one man ideal of peace for the world to follow. Rocky Balboa. Mumbling...drooling...Rocky Balboa is the American spokesman for world peace. It's the most hilariously entertaining idea in the Rocky franchise, but with his ending speech and resulting Russian standing ovation, it's clear even the Russians agree we could all get along. I mean hell, the Russian Premiere changed his mind and clapped for Rocky. People...Rocky single handedly prevented World War III. Now how can't you agree Rocky IV is the greatest movie of all time?