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Knocking out the Rocky / Creed movies: Review

KDRS3126[1]I grew up watching Sly Stallone’s movies, and since my hometown Philadelphia Eagles were underdogs in the SuperBowl this year, I wanted my kids to see some great underdog stories.  We watched the whole franchise, so instead of rating individual movies, I’m going to go with the boxers in each, and rate them that way.  I’ll give a spoiler warning, but if you haven’t seen these movies shame on you anyway 😛

In the first ROCKY film, Sly’s character had a decent story.  Rocky “The Italian Stallion” Balboa struggled to make ends meet.  He was relatable in every sense of the term, albeit a bit annoying at times with his incessant ramblings.  That just added to the character.  He comes off a bit strong, and even uncomfortable in his approach to Adrian.  Now I won’t get into Adrian as I’m focusing on the boxers themselves, but she is Rocky’s backbone, and their relationship is fun to watch and build.  The build of getting to see him rise up to take on a challenge from the Boxing champion of the world, is a long but enjoyable journey starting with his bout against Spider Rico (who shows up later in the 6th film again).

Apollo Creed is a cocky type of character, but it’s hard to hate him.  He has used his fame to give a nobody a chance.  Although he wins by split decision, he knows he was underestimate Rocky.  This is where ROCKY 2 comes in for the rematch.  My problem with the first movie is that Rocky doesn’t guard his head at all.  I boxed for a short time, and know that leaving yourself open the way he does in the first film makes for quick matches.  This was slightly corrected in the second movie, and the fight is a bit closer to realistic.  Apollo, despite being angry at Rocky throughout the film still respects the man.

We will skip ROCKY 3’s opening match with Hulk Hogan’s “Thunderlips,” because although entertaining it’s obviously done with humor, and not to be taken seriously.  On to Clubber Lang.  Now the movies have gone from boxers for sport to having a real bad guy, and it works.  Mr. T is way more intimidating than Apollo was, but having Apollo at Rocky’s side as trainer brings a nice full circle to it all.  And yes the beach scene with them training is downright hilariously cheesy, but when you’ve got “Eye of the Tiger” playing you can’t lose.  Literally in this case.

ROCKY 4 takes a drastic turn here by killing off the still pompous Apollo Creed.  I meanCPVC6752[1] we haven’t recovered from Mickey’s death yet, and another favorite bites the dust.  There is purpose though because it fuels the hate for the seemingly unstoppable Ivan Drago.  Of all the series, this one was always my favorite because it had my attention as a kid and stayed with me.  It’s now my son’s favorite of them all as well.

ROCKY 5 is definitely the low point of the series, but it’s not one you should skip.  Tommy “The Machine” Gunn is a turd right from the start, but that’s not what these films are all about.  It’s about Rocky’s struggle with returning to a normal life after being told he has brain damage, losing his house, and being betrayed by a kid he takes in as his own.  It also shows the heart of fatherhood, and how he doesn’t realize he is failing with his son, by taking in this other youth.  In the end it sorts out well for the Balboa family, or so it seems.  The street fight with Balboa and Gunn is probably what turned people off the most.  It isn’t really a boxing story, despite having that as a root element.  Still, it’s fun to watch the beat down.

ROCKY BALBOA was an unexpected return to the series over a decade later, and it makes up for what 5 wasn’t in plot.  Rocky’s wife Adrian is dead, his best friend Paulie  loses his job, his son Robert Jr does what he can to get out of his father’s shadow, and Rocky deals with a lonely life of pain while managing a restaurant.  When I saw this in the theater I was overjoyed at having the character return, but in rewatching it I realize how it doesn’t quite hold up as well as the older ones.  Sure, it’s one of the best stories about Rocky’s life, but I’m talking about the fight.  Rocky jumping back into the ring at 60 years old is a bit of a stretch.  Even the training sequences show that he’s no way near as in peak shape as he used to be.  His body just can’t do what it used to.  Still, watching him trade blows with Mason “The Line” Dixon was fun enough.  The much older boxer was able to prove that age shouldn’t hold you down from what you enjoy, and the younger boxer was able to prove to the world that he could handle an icon and isn’t just fighting nobodies.

Now comes CREED, and just when you think the franchise might get stale, we have a successful reboot that brings the saga to a whole new generation.  For one, I hope it keeps going, because Adonis Johnson Creed is a very likeable character in much the same way that Rocky is.  I find the fight with “Pretty Ricky” Conlan an entertaining enough bout.  Apollo Creed’s son seems to have his father’s footwork and some of Rocky’s power.  It’s the best of both worlds making each new match feel unique.  I love the throwbacks and references, I hate Pretty Ricky because he’s a punk, and even more so I love that Rocky fights once again (though this time against cancer and not an opponent in the ring).  The ending is touching, and brings everything full circle.  Rocky is the new Mick, and Adonis “Donnie” is the new Rocky.

Speaking of Mickey “Mick” Goldmill, I could easily see a prequel movie about the rise of Jewish boxers in Philadelphia.  I have a great story idea that would be a perfect tie in to the franchise featuring a younger Mick, but be separated enough to be something totally new.  Call me, Sly!

This franchise is about heart, never giving up, and dealing with the struggles of life.  It can’t get any more real than that.  After watching the movies, I took my family down to the Art Museum in Philly to run the steps, pose with the Rocky statue, and see the sights.  I didn’t even realize that Rocky’s (Stallone’s) footprints are there.  My wife grabbed this shot of the city from the top of the steps with the plaque.  It was fun to see countless people doing the same thing that we did, and it’s still over 40 years since the original movie came out.

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Photo credit: Roberta Pipito @homemadedelish.  Rocky’s footprints at the top of the art museum steps looking out over Philadelphia.

I’ll do a review of CREED 2 when it comes out in October of this year.  If you haven’t heard, Ivan Drago is returning sure to put up an interesting interaction between him and Rocky, while Donnie Creed takes on Drago’s son.

What do you think of this series?  Which one is your favorite?  Do you want to see it continue for years to come?  Chime in with your thoughts below.

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Think, Sip, Write: ep 47 – 19 Crimes

While Roberta and I enjoy some delicious @19crimes wine, we talk about what the 19 crimes were that the wine was inspired by.

For more info on the wine, go to: http://www.19crimes.com
Follow them on Facebook and Twitter @19crimes, or on Instagram @19crimeswine.

 

 


Writing update February 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve updated anyone as to the status of what I’ve been working on.  I wanted to say that I’m nearing the halfway point to my next novel THE THIRST OF CAIN.  This is flowing real well, and I haven’t had to alter much of the outline I had created for it.

I’m going deep into some historical things that make it much more grounded than the prior novel.  My character Francis Murphy is really struggling with who he’s become, and it makes for a great story of inner turmoil.  Will he turn out to be a mass murdering monster or will he rid himself and countless others of the disease he carries?  You’ll just have to wait until the Spring to find out!

In other news, I have also begun laying out CONSUMED BY WAR for a Fall release.  My brother Dan will be working on cover art for both of these, and I think you’ll like what we’ve got in mind.  Thanks for the continued support, and stay tuned.


Think, Sip, Write: ep46 – Super Bowl

It’s apparent that we are Eagles fans, but we go beyond our love for our team and focus on the sporting event itself.  Join us as we chat about the Super Bowl, share some facts, memories, and predictions in this episode of #thinksipwrite.

What are your favorite teams?  Do you have a dream match up?  Predictions?


Animals of Oz #3

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Animals of Oz series #3: The Queen of the Field Mice, Eureka the Pink Cat, and Toto the dog

This time, my daughter placed the setting at the field of poppies along the yellow brick road.  She decided to portray the Queen of the Field Mice, Eureka the Pink Cat, and Toto the dog all walking together.  On the back she included a quote from the novels.  “You have some odd friends, Dorothy,” she said. “The queerness doesn’t matter so long as we’re friends,” was the answer.”

Her goal was to portray that despite all our differences, we can all get along.  I think she’s on to something with that line of thinking.


Animals of Oz #2

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Animals of Oz series: #2 by Lana Rose Pipito – The Hungry Tiger

One of my daughter’s favorite characters in the L. Frank Baum Oz novels is The Hungry Tiger.  She finds it funny that he wants to eat fat babies, but doesn’t because it is wrong.  This is her version of the Hungry Tiger sitting in the palace in Oz.  On the back she put the a quote from the character in the books: “Hungry I was born and hungry I shall die, but I’ll not have any cruel deeds on my conscience to be sorry for.”

 


Animals of Oz #1

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Animals of Oz series: #1 by Lana Rose Pipito. The Cowardly Lion

My daughter (she’s 9 years old) has loved art since she could hold a crayon, and now that she’s had a few classes on it, she’s been really taking to acrylic paints.  Since she’s being taught a few things from her uncle Dan (my brother who does the cover artwork for my novels) I wanted to share with all of you her work.

She is a big fan of the original L. Frank Baum Oz novels, so she wanted to start there with an animals of Oz series.  First up is the Cowardly Lion on the yellow brick road by the forest’s edge.  On the back of the canvas she wanted a quote from the novel THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ… “True courage is in facing danger when you are afraid.”

I asked why she wanted this quote in particular, and she claimed that it takes courage to put skills and talents out there knowing that people will criticize it.  I couldn’t agree more, but I think this little lady has a fine future in front of her.

 


Think, Sip, Write: Ep 45 – Season 3 Premier

We’re back!  New intro song, new logo, and new topics coming at ya.  Roberta and I recap season 2 and look ahead to the new year with #thinksipwrite

If you have any thoughts on topics we should cover, feel free to message or comment to us.


Review: The Gifted season 1

The_Gifted_TV_title_cardA freshman season of a superhero tv show that isn’t horrible?  That could never happen, right?  Wrong.  The Gifted made its way in for 13 episodes of really compelling story telling.  This is tied in to the already existing X-Men movies, but does a great job of distancing itself.

I do have to clarify the timeline a little.  This story takes place as Blink and Thunderbird first meet, but in the new timeline established at the end of Days of Future Past.  Confused yet?  I’m not done.  If you recall, Blink and Warbird (Thunderbird’s brother) were characters in DOFP, so this is a really great way to connect the films to the show.  Let’s add in that it seems to take place before Logan, but after the (SPOILER ALERT) X-Men and Brotherhood are apparently killed off by Xavier’s out of control powers referenced in the Logan movie.

So the show plays out with an underground network of mutants trying to survive in a world that hates them.  They don’t know what happened to the X-Men or Brotherhood, but it no longer matters.  Sentinel Services is on their backs.  The organization is tied to Trask industries, but they have acknowledged that the giant robot sentinels were an issue in the past (Days of Future Past), and have moved to smaller robotic drones and hound mutants (brainwashed mutants) to help them.

Comic characters Pulse, Dreamer, Trader, Fenris, and Evangeline Whedon play small roles, while a brand new character Eclipse takes center stage as one of the co-leaders of the mutant underground.

The season plays out a little slow at times, but builds as it goes, and doesn’t make the mistake of harboring on one story line or cliffhangers for too long.  It does have a theme throughout the season, which seems to be resolved at the end.  (More Spoilers)  Polaris seems to be following in her father’s footsteps (Magneto) and joining the Hellfire Club with the Stepford Cuckoos.  The remaining mutants are homeless with nowhere to go.  Presumably they will take refuge in the sewers and become the Morlocks of comic fame, but that is something for season 2 to tackle.  And I’m hoping Dr. Campbell is not dead (He’s Ahab in the comics, so I’m sure he’ll be back in some form.)

What we have is a great X-Men B-list of mutants and humans who are surrounded by decent story telling.  The great part of the show, however, is the Strucker family.  Not only is their back story very deeply rooted in the source material, but they are characters you care about.  All four of them really steal the show along with Agent Turner of the Sentinel Services.  They are believable (at least their situations) and solid all around.  The comic book connections are just icing on an already good cake.

I can’t wait to see what season 2 brings, as it looks to be more related to the comic books, but until then this was a good breath of fresh air for the superhero genre on TV.  I give The Gifted first season, 4 out of 5 sCrypt ratings.  What did you think?  Where do you think it will go from here?  Chime in with your comments below.


On the 12th Day of Christmas…

ON THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME…

12 Sleepless Knights…

11 Hic-hic-hiccups…

10 Time Travelers…

9 Aliens…

8 Conspiracies…

7 Super Heroes…

6 Corrupt Files…

5 Demon Spawns!!!

4 Lost Souls…

3 Werewolves…

2 Vampires…

and Zombies In A Story

You can order my books or novels on Amazon.com and Lulu.com in digital and print respectively.  Feel free to inbox me (rickpipito@hotmail.com) for personalized copies.  Check out the fun little video below.