The concept of film franchise is often associated with brand new blockbusters starring galactic knights, young wizards, secret agents and all kinds of superheroes. But in the midst of these titans, a noble boxer has become one of the public’s favorite characters with a career of more than forty years and that includes almost a dozen films: it is about Rocky Balboa.
Conceived and starring Sylvester Stallone, the story of the Italian-American boxer has stood out for its malleability. This has allowed him to address real-world concerns, dream of success even in the harshest of conditions, and even extend the story with a champion for the next generation.
From the multi-laureate Rocky to the exciting believewe face the different films of Rocky in a spectacular ranking. Which will endure to the last round?
Rocky V (Dir. John G. Avildsen, 1990)
It has been almost unanimously labeled the lowest point in the entire franchise. An especially disappointing qualifier if we consider that it was conceived for truly noble purposes: to return the franchise to its origins to fire the titular character. The first involved the return of John G. Avildsen, director of the original film, with a story that left behind the eccentricities typical of success to return to the intimate bases that characterized the story in its beginnings. The second contemplated the death of the titular character to strengthen his legendary status. But the good intentions fell apart due to a weak and oversaturated script, with a Paulie whose decisions result in the loss of the family patrimony; a young boxer whose arrogance prevents him from being crowned the great successor of the champion and an Italian stallion who struggles to decide between the physical well-being of retiring to be with his family and the economic well-being of risking everything to recover part of what was lost.
In the end, he opts for an urban fight without much meaning, except for the defense of pride with which he shows that nobody is at his level and that leaves the hero in a deadlock in the narrative aspect: there are no teachings or successors, only a victory banal in the worst conditions. A tape of good intentions, but disastrous in its execution and hypocritical in its principles, which has condemned it to widespread contempt and almost absolute oblivion.
Creed 2 (Dir. Steven Caple Jr., 2018)
Adonis Creed’s second cinematographic adventure was born with too lofty ambitions: to emulate the essence of the fascinating believerecapture the emotions of Rocky IV and capture the confusion of a young boxer so eager to avenge his father’s death and prove his own worth that he ends up risking everything in a high-stakes fight. This results in a film that repeats many of the mistakes made by the franchise in the past: a plot hell-bent on encompassing so much that it falls short on all fronts and invariably leaves audiences feeling empty; a story that struggles to define itself between the intimate dilemmas of the titular character and the sports spectacle; a final victory so sung that it minimizes the most basic messages and the most primary emotions. It just complies, but it falls far short of the greatness that characterized his predecessor.
Rocky II (Dir. Sylvester Stallone, 1979)
It’s not even close to a bad movie. the problem with Rocky III is that it betrays the main values of the first installment in pursuit of the franchise’s own marketing. And it is that, while the first managed to demystify the American dream with a sporting defeat but a moral victory, the sequel opted for a simpler route that gave the public what they wanted: the eternal Hollywood idealization consummated in a happy ending. Even more disappointing is that the film opens with a bang, with an Italian Stallion winning in the eyes of the public, which leads to a new confrontation with Apollo Creed in which the absolute winner will be defined. A film focused on second chances and in which both the arrogance and the insecurity of the human being are addressed, but its messages are blurred with a plot that becomes generic with the minutes. This leads to a bittersweet victory in the face of the artificiality of the feat, with a coronation so determined to close the circle that it leaves a feeling of emptiness that never happened with the first installment. This decision marked an absolute change in the saga, which never figured out how to get back on track until the arrival of a new champion.
Rocky IV (Dir. Sylvester Stallone, 1985)
The fourth installment of Rocky would be defeated by knock out if it were meticulously analyzed and compared to the rest of the movies. It has the most basic plot of the entire franchise, countless stereotypes that exalt the American dream against the decadent Soviet bloc, a frankly caricatured opponent, and even a robot that tried to capture both the wealth and the technological potential of the United States. All these mistakes are forgivable because Rocky IV it aspires to nothing more than pure entertainment, something that it more than achieves thanks to its simple, but spectacular transfer of political conflict to the sports field. Tensions rise with the construction of Ivan Drago, a true machine man molded for absolute victory and bent on the annihilation of his American adversaries. Special mention for his sophisticated training, which contrasts with the rudimentary techniques with which the Italian Stallion returns to his pure state, resulting in a memorable combat. It is not the highest quality tape, but it is one of the most popular and acclaimed in the entire boxing saga.
Rocky III (Dir. Sylvester Stallone, 1982)
The boxing franchise has always roamed the extremes: it began with realism and then opted for the absolute reverie of the sport. The transition began with the sequel, but took the absolute leap with Rocky III. The film was based on some flimsy foundations to guarantee the absolute consolidation of the protagonist, such as Apollo’s decision to train Balboa instead of facing the opponent in question or the presence of an adversary so brutal that he wanders the limits of caricature. Debatable decisions, but that guaranteed the evolution of the story to the present day and that contributed to giving color to the premise without falling into the excesses of Rocky IV. His legacy was favored by the inclusion of the legendary theme ‘Eye of the Tiger‘, as well as the most famous outcome of the entire saga after the one seen in the original film.
Rocky Balboa (Dir. Sylvester Stallone, 2006)
No one can deny the popularity of the Italian Stallion, but also that each of its sequels dropped in quality until reaching the lowest point in history. Rocky V. It seemed the knock out definitive for the old boxer, until Sylvester Stallone deciphered a truly worthy farewell for his eternal champion with the film that has best emulated the glories of the original within the central saga. The base of the plot is weak, with a computer simulation that motivates the return of the veteran, but the rest of the story is surprisingly solid thanks to the psychological exploration of a character who fights not for vanity, but to unload his courage against a life. that he took his wife from him and that has prevented him from connecting with his son.
No less outstanding is the attention to small details, such as the initial refusal of the sports authorities that reflect the social limitations suffered by older adults, the training adapted to the age of the hero to guarantee realism without wasting the tributes and that outcome with the one that closes the circle started in 1976, with a sporting fall but an emotional victory for the titular character. Although it does not have the popularity of other installments, it represented a great closure for the central saga and a new approach with the audience that resulted in the realization of Believe.
Creed (Dir. Ryan Coogler, 2015)
Apollo Creed has always been fundamental to the Rocky mythology, to the point that it is impossible to understand the rising champion without him. His quest for greater popularity resulted in the titular character’s big break, as well as a deep friendship as soon as the boxing rivalry ended. This construction was key so that the franchise did not end with Rocky Balboa, but spread in an organic way with believe.
The film focuses on the boxing beginnings of Adonis Johnson, but far from imitating the formula seen in 1976, it follows the story of a young man whose status as an illegitimate son results in a serious identity crisis that can never be healed by the death of his father. at the fists of Iván Drago. The character only finds his bearings when he contacts Rocky, who agrees to train him unaware that he will end up becoming a father figure to the boy. A different formula from the original film, but which coincides in its use of sport as a metaphor for improvement. Not with the American dream as the ultimate goal, but as a second chance that guarantees personal happiness. Ryan Coogler Y Michael B Jordan They did a great job on their respective fronts, but it was Sly who took the cake with his incarnation of a pure Rocky Balboa, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He is the sixth actor in the history of the Academy to be considered for the interpretation of the same character in two different films.
Rocky (Dir. John G. Avildsen, 1976)
It’s common for contemporary audiences, so accustomed to a frankly commercial boxing franchise, to wonder how it was possible for Rocky to win the Oscar for Best Picture and give Sylvester Stallone a Best Actor nomination. However, the reasons become evident when it is analyzed as an independent title that was not fully aimed at marketing, but at the metaphorical use of sport for a series of important messages. The first and most relevant of all is the search for AAmerican Dream with a boxer amateur who aspires to nothing, until fate grants him the opportunity to face the champion, thus becoming the symbol of the multitudes who dream of reaching the top.
No less important is Rocky’s humility, which offers a very different vision of the Italian-American built by The Godfather (1972) and that never gets lost throughout the plot, but rather manifests itself until the end with a nervous hero, but willing to give everything of himself to meet the challenge. And finally, it offers a harsh critique of the commodification of the sport achieved with a professional focused on his finances and a challenger who resorts to frankly primitive methods for his training, but which are now iconic among audiences, such as hitting the flesh. or climbing the stairs to the Philadelphia Public Library. Although the debates surrounding his Oscar victory are understandable for defeating two titans like All the President’s Men Y networkhis coronation is also, for his own quality, as well as for his debut in an American union thirsty for hope and that found in the Italian Stallion a symbol of improvement.
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Rocky: Ranking of all the films in the saga | Cinema PREMIERE
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