After all these years, I finally had the opportunity to watch my least favorite of the Rocky series, Rocky III, again. With the new installment, Rocky Balboa, having just reinvigorated my enjoyment in the saga, I couldn’t wait to see a true tragedy with this one. I’ll say that it did not end up that way entirely. I actually had a real good time watching it. Upon completion, I turned to my friends and said, “that wasn’t as bad as I remembered.” They replied by saying, “yeah, but I’m sure we didn’t laugh that much the first time we saw it either.” So, I am not going to declaring this a masterpiece by any means. Truthfully, the score I gave it from the memory of years back will stay the same. Maybe I would have increased it if the film’s goal was to be a comedy, but since it tried to be a drama, it did ultimately fail.
I give full credit to Sylvester Stallone. He wrote the original and ended up starring in it on more accident than anything else. He took that classic and turned it into a franchise beloved by many. This entry just has too much of its era on display—the 80’s are in full force. I understand what he tried, showing how success and the Me-lifestyle of the decade turned a champ into a chump. Some really great stuff happens too: Mickey saying that he had been protecting him and keeping him out of contenders’ grasps, Apollo Creed coming to his defense as a promoter, and Adrian stepping up and telling her husband how it is, despite her wanting him to retire. The bad just outweighs the good way too much. Between the circus in the hotel training facility, Hulk Hogan’s embarrassing cameo, Mr. T’s street version of Muhammad Ali trash-talk, Burt Young’s ridiculous remarks at every turn, and Sly’s new wardrobe, I shook my head in shame the whole time. The real travesty, though, is that Mickey had to go out in such an inferior product.
Along with all the unintentional laughter, the re-training of Balboa at the hands of Creed and Duke—Carl Weathers and Tony Burton carry the film—is fantastic stuff. The montages are cheesy and each scene drips melodrama, but the thought is what counts. Making a slugger become faster and graceful is an interesting spin and makes perfect sense. Maybe Sly just needed a script doctor to hone his good ideas into a more enjoyable whole. As is, though, while the underlying themes and progression of the series is worthwhile, the fluff just drags it all down into the gutter.
Rocky III 4/10 | ★ ½