Rocky LXXVIII: Adrian’s Revenge

The first movie I ever saw was Rocky – it’s one of those memories that are very fuzzy, but there are specific elements that stand out regardless – the smell of the popcorn, the blue carpet in the lobby, the colored lights running down the side of the aisle.

I remember very little about the movie itself, other than thinking it was black and white (it is rather monochrome…) But I have watched it and it’s sequels many times over the years – it ranks up there as one of my favorite movies ever. Except for the last entry in the series – Rocky V. At the time it was obviously meant to be the last one, taking Rocky back to his roots, etc. But it just felt far too contrived; it tried too hard to be contemporary with the hippin’ and the hoppin’ and the bippin’ and the boppin’. Not to mention Sage Stallone’s horrible acting (yack) It was a disappointing end to an otherwise great franchise.

After 15 years and a truckload of rumors and speculation, and we have Rocky Balboa – finally, a fitting finale for Rocky. It is everything Rocky V needed to be, but wasn’t. It definitely has a greatest hits feel to it, and there’s one too many trademark inspirational speeches, but overall it’s a much more authentic return to the first couple of movies. It doesn’t try too hard to be relevant or cutting edge, there’s no Survivor cheese rock or hip-hop remixes of the Rocky theme (Bill Conti for the win), and most of all the movie ends the series as it started. It’s not a matter of winning a championship or obtaining glory – it’s about the internal struggle with oneself and “going the distance” despite everyone else saying you can’t – the thing that made Rocky such a compelling character 30 years ago.

But do we really need another sequel to Rambo?

It’s about time

This September: Original Unaltered Trilogy on DVD

Fans can look forward to a September filled with classic Star Wars nostalgia, led by the premiere of LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy video game and the long-awaited DVD release of the original theatrical incarnations of the classic Star Wars trilogy.

I really don’t mind most of the cosmetic changes George Lucas made to the original trilogy, but stuff like CGI Jabba in A New Hope and “Emo-Vader” in Return of the Jedi is distracting.

I suppose I can sell my 10 year old LaserDisc copies now…

Edit: Of course, right after I post this, I realized that HD-DVD and Blu-ray make their debut this year. I wonder how long it’ll take for the original versions to make it to this next generation of discs.

Edit Edit: As more information has come forth, this looks more and more like a lame money grab. No anamorphic encoding, no surround sound, etc. Basically they are the same as my 10 year old LaserDisc copies. No thanks.

Movie Report

I love the fact that so many great movies get (re)released on DVD for the holiday season. I hate the fact that I don’t have time to watch them all!

But I have managed to watch Spider-Man and E.T. this past week, and it was time well spent

E.T. – A classic, for sure. Probably one of Spielberg’s best. The new DVD release contains the remastered/edited 20th anniversary edition, which looks and sounds great. The changes are largely useless, though. They add a CGI E.T. for one scene which looks really fake (think Jabba in the Star Wars special edition…), and the edits are pointless. In one scene where the police have guns in the original, they are now holding flashlights. I wouldn’t have noticed this at all if I hadn’t been looking for it. The other edit was the dialogue “you look like a terrorist”, which has been changed to “you look like a hippie”. Considering the character doesn’t look like a terrorist *or* a hippie… well, you get the idea.

The coolest feature of the DVD, and possibly the coolest DVD bonus *ever*, is the newly recorded orchestral score. For the premier of the 20th Anniversary, they had a live orchestra (directed by John Williams) to recreate the entire score IN SYNC with the movie as it was playing. Which had to be an amazing thing to see/hear in person. The neat thing is, they included the live recording on the DVD, which you can select as an optional audio track… i.e., you can watch the movie with all the sound effects, dialogue, AND the live orchestral track. Very very nifty.

Spider-Man – I didn’t see it in the theater, sadly. It is probably the best comic book movie since Superman. Sam Raimi didn’t try to reinvent the classic story or give it a modern spin. Overall it was faithful to the Spider-Man we all know and love. Two gripes though… One, there was too much exposition during the first half… which is the biggest problem with most super hero movies – they have to explain all of the nuances to the moviegoers who might not be familiar with the comics. X-Men was particularly bad in this respect. Two, the ending with Mary Jane in the graveyard was just… off. The whole scene felt forced.

But all in all, a great movie – I can definitely understand why it did as well as it did at the box office. Can’t wait for the sequel!

Anyway, ‘dat’s all for now, folks.

Star Wars Gansta Rap

I had a strange dream last night – I was in India, and ended up in some “teen club” that was a front for brainwashing kids into being Hindu or Buddhist, or something. Very odd.

To all you Vader Hatas out there:

This movie has been around for a couple of years, but still cracks me up.

“We got Def Star…”

Music and Movie Reviews

What I’ve been watching:

October Sky – Great great movie. Go see it! A++

EdTV – OK. Nothing special. Has a few laughs. C

The Matrix – Great action flick. Best thing Keanu Reeves has done since Bill and Ted. A+

Never Been Kissed – Drew Barrymore as a nerd? She actually pulls it off. Pretty good. B+

Death Warrant – Jean Claude Van Damme + Very few fight scenes = incredibly boring movie. D-

What I’ve been listening to:

Marvelous 3 Hey!Album – These guys RAWK! Go get it. A+++

Sugar Ray 14:59 – Not bad. Pretty diverse album. “Every Morning” is definitely the best song on the album. B-

Garbage Version 2.0 – OK so far – haven’t listened to the entire thing.

New Radicals – If the guy could sing, it would be much better. And calling yourself a band when it’s really a solo act is awful pretentious. C+

Goo Goo Dolls Dizzy Up the Girl – A little too “alterna-trendy” for me. Good songs for the most part. B

Oscar thoughts

Was there any doubt that Hollywood was biased toward Shakespeare in Love? They went to Gwyneth Paltrow for at least 20 reaction shots throughout the show. I haven’t seen the movie, but it better be REALLY good in order to have dominated like that, especially over Saving Private Ryan.

And speaking of, If Steven Spielberg is the Best Director of the year, exactly who directed the Best Picture? You could see the disappointment on Harrison Ford’s face when he had to read “Shakespeare in Love” as the Best Picture.

Tom Hanks – looking scraggly with the beard…

Helen Hunt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Liv Tyler, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta Jones – looking good…

Ed Harris – looking bald. Is it just me, or did he have a lot more hair just a couple of years ago in Apollo 13?

As for Elia Kazan, whom a lot of people protested because of his involvement in the McCarthy era… GET OVER IT! It was freakin 50 years ago! Most of the people who were protesting were kids back then!

What was with that “tapping to the nominated scores”? Utter trash.

I liked the song from “Babe: Pig in the City” from Randy Newman and Peter Gabriel. Is it just me, or is Randy Newman becoming the king of soundtracks for G/PG-rated kids movies?

And would someone PLEASE explain to my why the First Adulteress… er, Monica Lewinsky… is at the Oscar parties? Isn’t her 15 minutes of fame up? And WHY are we treating her like a celebrity? Please, just let her fade into obscurity quickly.

90’s word to retire as soon as possible – “Diva”. I am so sick of hearing everyone and their mom referred to as a “diva”. It was old five years ago when used to describe En Vogue.