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 mean 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.
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.
Roberta and I chat about an amazing event called, “Diner En Blanc”. What fun events like this do you have in your town? Have you ever been to a Diner en Blanc? If so, share your experiences in the comments below.
Day 18 of #authorlifemonth my research has been on many places and things. Recently #ancientegypt #philadelphia #washingtondc and #bible have been used for my WIP
It’s not often that I do an actual book review, but coming from Philadelphia and knowing quite a few police officers, this one caught my attention. “The Granny Cop” is the true story of Philadelphia’s own James McGrath. He was dubbed the “Granny Cop” because he would walk the streets dressed as an elderly woman for the Philadelphia Police Department Stake Out unit.
James was a highly decorated Police Officer in his hayday. During his career, he made over 125 arrests. Over 50 of those arrests were made while he walked the streets as the “Granny Cop”. James was awarded the Medal of Valor from the city of Philadelphia and the Police department, the highest award. He has been on TV and radio talking about his experience.
With a foreward by Frank Rizzo, and tons of scans of actual newspaper articles, I found this book a fun read, and am impressed at what this man did to help rid the streets of scum bags. Move over, “Big Momma’s House,” because James McGrath is the real thing.
To find out more about James and his magnificent career, I recommend checking out http://www.grannycop.com. It has more details on where you can purchase the book, merchandise, and includes some cool extras.
The folks over at 5 Reads Blog gave me a guest post on my 5 most inspirational reads as an author. Click on over to check out what my mentions are and how they’ve shaped me into the writer I am. http://5readsblog.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/rick-pipito/
Sorry for the delay on this one. Unfortunately it took a lot of editing and I still ended up with non-quality video that I had to scrap. My memory card filled not long into it, and my backup camera just didn’t cut it. Here is video of William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, and Scott Bakula coming in to the event and answering a few questions. I apologize for not having more, but you can at least get a feel for how easy going and fun this Q and A session was.
Click here to view: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vl0mUp8qUWw&feature=youtu.be
Here are some of the close up shots I was able to score while running around. Click on the pictures to enlarge. I got a few good ones of celebrities and the floor. Also in there is a good shot of sCrypt Comics co-founders Rick (me) and Dan Pipito, as well as one of my wife and daughter with Batgirl shirts, and one of my son who was too tired to walk anymore, but donned his spidey shirt well. Enjoy!
Sorry for the delay folks, but it took a while and I had to convert the file smaller for youtube. Here it is… the epic Q and A session with Stan the man Lee. Wizard World 2012 in Philly brought the legend to the stage in an absolutely entertaining and hilarious interview. Check out the four parts below. I was honored to be right there as close as I could be.
Things to take note of are his occasional jabs at DC comics, his realism and his overall persona. The guy really is a MARVEL. Thanks for the entertainment, Stan.
Part 1 is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcMVrdnWAMA&feature=youtu.be
Part 2 is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdkZMIlVUHs&feature=youtu.be
Part 3 is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8g-IrLt-Lc&feature=youtu.be
Part 4 is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9o7YWGy3sA&feature=youtu.be
Comic Con in Philadelphia this year had an amazing array of people dressing up as their favorite characters. There was even a guy dressed as Galactus. I missed it, but saw pictures on the wizard world facebook page. It was pretty damn cool. Click on the images to enlarge. My only regret here is that there was a damn good looking Mystique, but everytime I turned around she was moving somewhere else. There was also a really gorgeous Black Widow that I had two pictures of that didn’t turn out, and a few other shots that were either bombarded by others or heading off to their next destination. Here are some of the better ones we were able to snap some shots of on camera.
Wizard World Comic Con was a huge success this year in Philadelphia. By halfway through the morning on Saturday, they already had a record breaking 25,000 people. Now keep in mind this isn’t San Diego or even New York or Baltimore’s Comic Con. Philadelphia has had a bad reputation for these events, as the attractions have not always been as attracting to fans, but this year was different.
This will be the first post of coverage on the event, with pictures, interview coverage and more to come. Here is the way it went down for sCrypt Comics. Myself (Rick Pipito) and Dan Pipito arrived for their press passes on Saturday morning June 2nd, 2012. There was a slight bump in the road at that point because they had trouble finding our press passes. Organization of the show wasn’t top notch. There were other issues with many other people, but at least Philly is finally attempting to step up to the plate.
After we got our passes, we dashed down the hall to make it to the Stan Lee Q &A (video from this is being edited, and I will post soon). On the way, we passed right by actor Charlie O’Connell. I smack myself because I could have probably stopped him for a quick interview, but Stan Lee was calling, and we were already late. Stan’s interview was absolutely hilarious, and the perks of being press were great, as we were able to get right up to the stage. He really is a MARVELous person, down to earth, and funny.
After the Q & A we headed into the main hall to see the attractions. The booths had everything from action figures, to comic books and movie props, to costumes and more. Seeing the old Batmobile from the Adam West series as well as the Delorean from Back to The Future (photos of both coming soon), was breathtaking. You could feel the nostalgia in the air. This didn’t compare to Dan and I actually almost slamming head first into “The Chin” himself, Bruce Campbell. We tried to get his attention, but his security team of eight people brushed us off as they were in a hurry to get to his booth.
Then there was the celebrity tables. Melissa Joan Hart, Dean Cain, James Marsters, James Hong, Lou Ferrigno, Ted “The Million Dollar Man” Di Biasiand many more were easy to get great photos of and up close. The only person who didn’t seem to enjoy herself was Shannon Elizabeth. My brother, Dan, actually had a few beers with her in California a few years back, and his impression of her seemed to mimick her enthusiasm. She is absolutely stunning in person though.
The Reading Terminal was our choice for lunch, and let me tell you. If you are ever in Philadelphia, this is a place you cannot miss. It is right across the street from the convention center, and the choices of food are affordable and outstanding. It is like a convention of food in itself.
Cosplay was perhaps one of the more entertaining things this year. Amateur costumes are getting much more creative and even as good looking as the professional models. Of course, there is also the laughable people who definitely shouldn’t be wearing revealing costumes that their bodies and faces don’t do justice, but I give them a lot of credit for being a hardcore fan. By the way, I’m not sure why Darth Maul was only in a loin cloth. That was disturbing and as wierd as the 300 plus pound woman in the Supergirl miniskirt with her belly showing. (Pics of some cosplay coming soon).
Wearing our sCrypt Comics T-Shirts was great for us, as we were basically walking billboards. Thanks again to Leanne Wiedmeyer for providing them. We were able to give out some of our cards to interested people, as well as make a few new art connections and show off some of the current in progress art. Reaction from others seemed to be as to why we didn’t have a booth at the show. This is great because they really enjoyed what they saw from sCrypt and felt that we could handle our own at an event like this. The answer of course to that question is money. Living paycheck to paycheck is hard enough when you are buying copyrights on things and supplying copies to the artists. Getting a table and copies of things to go with it is a whole different story. Soon though… very soon (we hope). Anyway, Zenescope comics also talked to us for a bit about possible future collaboration.
We missed the Bruce Campbell Q & A, which is probably a good thing because my memory card was filling fast on my camera and phone (a lesson I learned for next time). The good news is that we got almost the whole interview with the five Star Trek captains. This was the first appearance of all five together for the first time. I have to say, they were as funny as Stan Lee, though the questions being asked by the audience weren’t that great or well thought. It was a blast though. Video of this will be coming soon too as soon as I edit together the two different formats I used to record it.
By the time we were leaving. I decided that I wanted to get more coverage. Dan couldn’t come the next day, but I decided to bring my family. Sunday wasn’t as eventful, but a lot less crowded, which was a breath of fresh air. I really wanted to get to the Quantum leap Q & A, but time was pressing and there was no way to get there after finding parking. Instead we went to the Reading Terminal again for lunch. My daughter (sans mask) was dressed as Batgirl (I call her Bat-Princess), my son donned his Spiderman (Spider-buddy) shirt, and my wife made sure that her Bat-girl shirt was being projected in 3D by her chest (I call them Bat-boobs). Pics of the family will come soon too.
A few more up close and personal shots with Dean Cain were possible, as well as some more really good Cosplay. We had other things to attend to later in the day, so I didn’t want to risk sitting in on the Boondock Saints panel. I heard that it was a great Q & A though with Rocco, Flannery and Reedus. All three I had seen up close as well, the previous day.
We ended our trek with a cold beer and early dinner at Yards Brewery, where Dan works. I gave him the report of what he had missed, and he gave me a case of their outstanding variety pack to take home. As the sky was turning gray, and we were headed North on I-95 to return home, I snapped a shot of the city skyline. It brought a tear to my eye to have to wait until next year to see what Philly can bring to the table. Stay tuned for more coverage!!!