On page 153 of TF issue 186, Richard Matthews asks:
"Is it just me... or does Rocky Balboa knock out The Wrestler?"
Here are a few excerpts:
A lifetime of pain (and plastic surgery) hangs on the sweaty, steroid-puffed face. Ageing bones crack. Bulbous muscles burn. The weathered warrior grasps for one last shot of glory. Now, if you’re Darren Aronofsky, you kill Mickey Rourke’s Randy “The Ram” Robinson (his heart steroid-damaged, diving off the ropes into the abyss, fans chanting his name). If you’re Sylvester Stallone, you give an icon a worthy swan song (he loses with dignity, fans chanting his name). One film was critically lauded. The other was Rocky Balboa.
Unexpectedly, Balboa doesn’t play out every cliché it sets up, but has the cojones to go to town with those it does. It’s obvious that Rocky will fight and risk his marbles, but he doesn’t consummate his romance with single mom Geraldine Hughes. He’s always going to reunite with son Milo Ventimiglia (genius casting thanks to the Heroes star’s Stallone-esque wonky mouth), but Sly turns the heartfelt speechifying away from the ring to do so.
Given how, when and why these films were made, both are brave and both rehabilitated a great talent. But Rocky Balboa is braver for its feel-good knockout punch. I know whose name I was left chanting. Or is it just me?
Check out the full article in Issue 186 - on sale 29 September 2011.
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