Yes, we’re in the midst of “remake fever” right now in Hollywood, but there’s something else that’s going on at the same time – “revisiting fever.” Characters that we haven’t heard from for years are suddenly making their way back to the big screen, and they’ve come back in different ways. They’ve come either as the first part to a new trilogy that passes itself off as an unofficial sequel, as a re-make to the first part of a long-running series that re-invigorates a character, or as one last journey with a film icon sixteen years after we last saw him. (If I can make it happen, I’ll be sure to do a column on another revisiting film that’s currently in theaters, one that makes a transition from live-action to CGI animation.)
Even though I’m not fond of all these remakes that are being churned out, I do enjoy the revisiting. Each film that we’ve seen makes sure to pay homage to the preceding films in their own unique ways. They attempt to remind us what we loved about their predecessors while downplaying what brought them down. And most importantly, they give us the chance to see some closure. Too many franchises don’t end; they just stop. (Personally, I’d love to see one more Police Academy film to close out that series, but the latest word is that producer Paul Maslansky wants to do a re-make of the first film and not worry about ending the 7-part franchise.)
In one particular case, actor/writer/director Sylvester Stallone decided the time was right to re-visit the character that launched him into film history, and give him the closure he so richly deserves. The character, of course, is Rocky Balboa, and his final trip into the boxing ring is shown in the aptly named 2006 hit film…
It’s been sixteen years since we last saw Rocky Balboa, and he’s been through quite a bit since his injuries from his fight with Drago forced him to retire, and Paulie’s mistake of signing over power of attorney to their accountant lost all of Rocky’s money. Over five years after they re-located back to the old neighborhood in Philadelphia, Rocky and Adrian opened an Italian restaurant called Adrian’s. Seven years later, Adrian sadly passed away from breast cancer. The relationship between Rocky and his son Robert has had its ups and downs over the years, but lately, they’ve been on a downslide. Robert moved out of the house and got a job in the city, and he and his father rarely see each other anymore.
By the time we re-join Rocky, he’s still unable to let go of Adrian. The restaurant is going very well and he’s having a good time watching over the place and telling fight stories to customers, but if Adrian can’t be with him, he can’t bring himself to be happy. Neither can Paulie, who’s still working at Shamrock Meats and believes that this miserable existence will always be his life. There’s the meat house, the guilt he feels over treating his sister badly, and the annual trips he goes on with Rocky around the neighborhood, as Rocky dives back into the past and vocally remembers the first date he had with Adrian and the time they spent together.
But then, all of a sudden, a simulated fight on ESPN is produced, a computer fight that puts two fighters against each other in their primes. This particular fight puts Rocky Balboa against the current Heavyweight Champion of the World, Mason “The Line” Dixon (Antonio Tarver), and according to the computer, Rocky wins by a knockout.
The computer fight causes a stir in both Philadelphia and Las Vegas. For Rocky, it ignites a fire that he thought was long extinguished and it fuels his desire to get back in the ring for the first time since his classic bout with Ivan Drago. Since there’s nobody with him anymore that used to help make his decisions – namely Mickey and Adrian – Rocky steps up and truly becomes a pro-active character. He not only applies for a license to fight, but when it gets turned down because of his age and previous injuries, he talks the commission into granting him one.
Over at Mason Dixon’s camp in Las Vegas, Mason’s manager pushes his fighter to offer an exhibition bout with Balboa. It wouldn’t be for the title, just a simple 10-round fight with nothing on the line except personal pride for both men. Mason’s been spoon-fed bad opponents and the public has turned against him for not acting like a real champion. For Balboa, it’d be a chance to show the whole world, and most importantly himself, that he can still bring it.
Everyone is excited about this fight, except for Rocky’s son Robert (Milo Ventimiglia). Ever since Rocky’s re-emergence in the world of boxing, Robert’s been mocked by his friends, asking him, “What happened to you?” Why didn’t he follow in his father’s footsteps? He’s been trying his best to make a name for himself, and all of a sudden, his father’s past is practically pushing him back down. He decides to finally have it out with his father, and visits the restaurant to try to talk him out of doing this.
As our scene opens, Robert and Rocky walk outside the restaurant...
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