No one plans to spend a Sunday watching two Stallone movies. Heck, a smart person should know better than watching anything that Stallone is in. But as luck should have it, I ended up spending my afternoon/evening watching Stallone kick butt in Demolition Man and do a whole bunch of nothing in Rocky Balboa.
There are so many great films that I haven't seen yet. I've had Harakiri sitting on my shelf for months now because of a Justin recommendation. I can't wait to watch it, mainly because it was made by the same guy who did Samurai Rebellion. Samurai Rebellion is a masterpiece, a prime example of how to spend an entire film building up tension, and then releasing it in a perfect display of violence. Clearly, I am a fool for not having watched Harakiri yet. I promise to watch it soon, and I really should watch Samurai Rebellion again. God is that a good one.
Not a good one, but still entertaining, is Demolition Man. Demolition Man is hilariously anachronistic and prescient at the same time. It predicts a Schwarzenegger political career and the eventual merging of Taco Bell with Pizza Hut, while neglecting to realize that sooner or later Jefferey Dahmer would be dead. Sooner, as it turned out. One of DM's strength's is that it is one of the better examples of a 90's action movie. It celebrates the good old fashion world of bullets, burgers, and cool old cars. According to Demolition Man, the car's of the future are for losers. Stallone plays John Spartan(Awesome movie name!), the so-called Demolition Man because he always causes extreme property damage and large death tolls while pursuing criminals. Everyone remembers the classic scene where a reporter ask's Spartan why he blew up a multi million dollar strip mall to rescue a girl whose ransom was considerably less. Before Spartan can respond, the young girl says "Fuck you, lady!" which makes Spartan smile and exclaim, "Hey, good one." One could argue this makes Demolition Man better than most films in Stallone's career. They would be right.
John Spartan's arch enemy is Simon Phoenix(another great movie name!), played by Wesley Snipes with crazed glee. I believe this is Snipes stretching his acting chops to their breaking point. Snipes motivation is clearly something in the realm of "Sociopath who only wants to kill all the time. All the time. That is the only thing he wants to do. If he isn't killing, he doesn't care. But funny." Simon Phoenix drops plenty of references to movies and pop culture, which is surprising since he seems like the kind of guy who hates culture and people and movies and just wants to blow up the world. It should be noted that the only time he expresses any admiration for another human being is when he says, "Jefferey Dahmer? I love that guy!"
All of the action sequences are deleriously 90's, with plenty of sparks and explosions but surprisingly bloodless. This film earns its R rating mostly with language, and a gratutious tit shot that only could show up in a 90's movie. For gratutious nudity, it runs second to the nude scene in Timecop. According to the IMDB, Snipes had to slow down his kicks and punches because they were blurring on camera, which is used to explain why all of Simon Phoenix's fight scenes seem so heavily choreographed.
Do you know the plot to Demolition Man? Phoenix and Spartan are locked up in cryofreeze, and stay there for 40 years until Phoenix is released in the future and Spartan has to be unthawed as well in order to stop him. As far as portraying an interesting version of the future, I can't fault DM. One future aspect that made me think harder than anyone involved was the fines for foul language. In numerous scenes Stallone and Snipes swear up a storm and machines can be heard in the background issuing fines. So, this means that there are microphones all over every room and vehicle, listening to every word that is spoken. Someone must be monitering all this, yet the villain has one of those evil plan conversations with Phoenix, in a room where Phoenix is being repeatedly fined for swearing. This bugged me, probably more than any other person who has ever watched Demolition Man.
I hope this is the last time I watch DM for awhile.
Any good feelings I felt for DM were extinguished quickly by the turgid Rocky Balboa. The sixth Rocky movie, RB was apparently the first of Stallone's scripts where a crucial part of script writing was ignored. With last year's Rambo, Sly opted out of including certain expostion scenes in order to get to the violent action scenes quicker. This also meant that Rambo would have to make do without a middle. Rambo starts, introduces a few characters, you think you're getting toward the middle of the film and whoa! you're at the climax. This actually worked to the film's advantage. Rocky Balboa follows a similar style except it does have the training montage, which effectively functions as the films middle, all three minutes of it. However, you have to trudge through a solid hour plus of nothing happening in order to get to that middle, while noticing that Stallone decided to leave out any conflict. RB spends an obscene amount of time letting you know that Rock is sad, Rock is lonely, all his old haunts are boarded up, and yes, his wife is dead. Where Rambo is an overly serious gorefest that is entertaining because it is an overly serious gorefest where evil military soldiers are shot with giant guns until they liquify, Rocky Balboa is an overly serious boxing film that takes forever and then some to get to the boxing, and then ends without much of a point. From what I could gather, Rocky got old, and well, things ain't what they used to be. Kids are disrespectful and life is hard. I cannot relate, because I am fairly young and immortal. After ESPN posts a one minute segment of two videogame avatars representing Rocky and the current champ Mason Dixon(terrible movie name!), the whole world acknowledges that they all watch and are influenced by shitty graphics and ESPN filler. Two sleazy promoters approach Rocky and Mason and say they should fight because they'll make money. So they do. The end. Which, while depressing, is one of the more realistic aspects of the film. Sleazy people without ideas or talent pounce on a stupid but simple idea(old guy fights young guy), and exploit it for financial gain. And it works. Rocky goes toe to toe, holds his own, and in the end it's a draw. Because nothing sends me out of the theater with a spring in my step like a draw! "Nobody won! Hurray! Except for the money men! They cleaned up!"
The closing boxing match is fairly well filmed, though all this talk of it being the best Rocky match is pure hogwash. How quickly we forget Rocky III, where Rock goes head to head with Mr. T's Clubber Lange. Now that was a match. But why is so much of Rocky Balboa a boring slog? I find it hard to believe that any Rocky fan was happy with this film overall, but so many reviews had people raving "It wasn't that bad", and "You don't understand Rocky"(actually that was a guy at a party). Maybe I don't understand Rocky(highly unlikely), but what I do know about Rocky films is that they have lots of boxing in them. Not this one match at the end bullshit, but a bunch of matches throughout leading to the big one where Rocky, against all odds, defeats his opponent. If Rocky Balboa wanted to be honest with itself and the audience, the entire film would turn out to be a fever dream, where Rocky would wake at the end and find out that no one actually would want to see him fight someone and that if he did actually step into the ring, he would be killed. No draw. Sorry.
I noticed plenty of comparisons with Gran Torino while watching Rocky Balboa, but RB is a slightly better movie because it decided to employ actors instead of whoever walked in off the street, and is only just boring instead of a huge crock of shit. Sure, kids don't respect Rocky and are little punks, but that's only because Rocky is an unknown quantity to them. After they watch him get his face smashed in in the ring, respect is earned. As opposed to Gran Torino, where Clint Eastwood thinks that his angry retired auto worker demands respect because he's old. Give it to get it, dude.
Hopefully, I will remedy the pain of my choices on Sunday and watch a good movie for a change.