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.
Cover art by Dan Pipito
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Twenty five years have passed since a war with artificial intelligence has forever changed the course of humanity. Belief in the first world leader has been gained by the majority, but there are a few who can see past the media bias. As President Jason Black’s scheme unravels, the next step in human evolution begins. A passing of the torch to a newer generation of unexpected heroes occurs as they mount a resistance into the political fray. Led by Zoe Omandi the team is guided into dealing with not only their conflicting personalities, but also their extraordinary abilities. Real world physics makes this more than just a story of superheroes and villains. It is a story about survival and persistance. Can the heroes overcome the odds and unravel the truth before it is too late?
The following is a compilation of some of the most frequently asked questions I’ve received from people in reference to my PANDORA’S CHAOS TRILOGY. I figured it was time to post them up as the next book will be ready soon. Enjoy and feel free to ask any additional questions in the comments below. 🙂
Q: How does this trilogy stand out from the last?
Rick: Like the Star Wars saga, I tend to think of this as a starting point for newcomers to my work. Books 4-6 are really well written in comparison to the original three because of what there was to work with. It is a lot easier to be more creative with ghosts, demons and technology (the focuses of the novels in Pandora’s Chaos), than it is with zombies, vampires and werewolves (books 1-3 in the Eden’s order trilogy). I wrote it in a way that anyone can jump in from this as a starting point and when it grabs their attention there would be two reactions. If the reader enjoys what they see here, then it will not only compel them to want to see what happens in the next trilogy, but also what happened before book 4 that established this world.
Q: Are you always writing in trilogies?
Rick: I think that is the most logical approach, yes. I’ve always loved a good series. The problem is finding a part for people to start. Someone might get turned off if they find out there are multiple books and they’re already 6 novels behind. The purpose of trilogy writing is multiple… I can focus on a new antagonist throughout, and have separate threats that are secondary antagonists in each novel. Sure you can read just any individual novel of it, but it really feels fuller with all three. I won’t always write in trilogies, but for this it seems fair.
Q: Where will the next trilogy take us then?
Rick: Into the future. There is a twenty five year gap between books 6 and 7 in order to introduce a mostly new cast. The past novels have happened and there will be references, but only when necessary. GENETIC MORSELS is going to enable me to do more creatively while building on an already existing world, and yet keeping it fresh and new.
Q: What is your take on Pandora’s Box and the whole Atlantis angle you’ve included?
Rick: Without giving too much away Atlantis has always been fascinating to me. There is so much that we don’t know about the history of mankind and I wanted to touch on that. I believe that every legend begins with a certain truth. My own ideas for stories are based on realistic things that have occurred in my own lifetimes, so incorporating that with the past really gives me a lot of working room. There had to be something opposite to the order established with the Garden of Eden in the first three novels, so when I wanted a source for chaos I immediately knew Pandora’s Box would be the thing to do just that. My take on it is completely unique to those prior, but still keeping true to what the original idea was.
Q: With your next trilogy taking place in the near future, what will you call it? What will it focus upon?
Rick: I have a few ideas about what to call the trilogy as a whole, but nothing definitive at the moment. I currently have the rights to my ideas in book 7 and book 8 which will focus on the next step in human evolution and aliens respectively.
Q: Is it impossible to tie up every loose end? There are a few characters who I wonder about their fates.
Rick: Nothing is impossible, but in order to keep new novels fresh I don’t like to include every little thing that may have gone untouched. Take the fate of Cain. I like to leave that open to the reader to have their own thoughts. It isn’t necessary for me to go back to a place I’ve already been without having really good reason. I try to eliminate the reader question of “what if?” as often as I can. Mostly there are no loose ends. Each trilogy ties it up fairly well. For those things I left open, well I reserve them for the comic book spinoffs.
Q: In the Eden’s Order Trilogy there was a timeline and the graphic novel spinoff stories as bonus content. What are the extras included in this trilogy?
Rick: As I did in EDEN, I included the novelized stories that are and will be in the comic book spinoffs, plus three new additional stories. They are all short and are just meant to be supplemental material. Instead of a timeline with this one, I included a “document” that drops a hint as to what the main antagonist (I won’t say who here) is trying to do in book 7.
Q: I understand that you won some awards for this trilogy. What was that like?
Rick: I was blown away. I received extremely positive reviews on SOULS 4 SUPPER and it took the trilogy to new heights. It moved me from non placement on the independent author chart into the top 100… then two weeks later I had been moved into the top 25 of authors. I’m still on an adrenaline rush and am so thankful for all of the feedback and people who made this possible through support and word of mouth.
Q: What is the symbolism behind the cover art?
Rick: When I approached my brother (Dan Pipito) to do the cover art, we discussed how we could represent all three book themes as well as the underlying plot of it all. The look of an ancient sculpture came to mind, with modifications. In its chest you can see what is my version of Pandora’s Box. Emanating from that is a greenish mist that represents the souls within it. If you look at the wings behind the statue one is feathered and one more like a dragonfly. This is to represent the angels and demons. Finally, the sculpture itself is very mechanical looking with seams and rivets in places, which is where the technology is represented. It is a simple piece with many complexities hidden within (much like the mysteries revealed within the books).
Q: Where can we get PANDORA’S CHAOS TRILOGY?
Rick: The trilogy as a whole can be found in print at www.lulu.com, as well as the three novels that are included in the trilogy as separate entities. You can download SOULS 4 SUPPER, DEVIL’S DESSERT, and TECHNO FEAST for the Kindle on www.amazon.com
I understand the argument that a sequel is never as good as the original. I find the point to be outdated though. Think of modern movies. A lot of times the original movie is an origin story setting up the rest of the would be franchise. Therefore, the first movie, while important to the series, is not always the best. In fact, it rarely ever is. Sure, we can sight a million examples as to this being untrue, but nowadays a series of films is written to act as one, and for that reason it works.
Often we end up with a lesser quality trilogy than we would have back in the day… Take the Matrix for example. It in no way is as good as the original Indiana Jones trilogy. BUT Look at the individual movies. With the Matrix, it was the first movie that was great and the other two were subpar for the trilogy. Indiana Jones on the other hand (for me at least) is opposite. I feel that Raiders (while still one of my favorite movies of all time) was no way near as good as the next 2. Let’s not get into the most recent one.
I do realize my argument could go either way, but let’s face it. I’m a fan of characters. They are a lot of the time what makes a movie. If I like a character I’d like to see them in another adventure again, even if they have a bad one in between. It’s like that music artist that you really like, but they have one bad album. Do you give up on them? No because you know they will be back with something better.
Why is this a topic for my 31 days of Halloween? Because that’s the mindset I have with writing. I designed the FLESH AND LEFTOVERS series to be a ten book series in all. I ALSO know that not being caught up with a series may prevent some people from wanting to buy the next novel in fears that they don’t know what is going on.
That is not the case here. Yes, FLESH AND LEFTOVERS is my weakest book in the series, but it has also gained a huge audience. It is the weakest because it is an origin story. The characters are just building up here, and by the end of the book you really know what is going on.
My goal was to make each one top the prior, not just because I knew my writing would be better with experience, but also because you expect more as the audience. Think of it as the Star Wars of horror. The prequel trilogy is geared for one audience, while the second and third are geared for not just the first, but other audiences as well. Start with book 4 and read that trilogy. Then you can go back and find out what got them to that point, or move forward. Book 10 will be a bookends of sorts. It will be a sequel and prequel to the series, yet stand alone in its entirety.
So if you are a stand alone story type of person, or are like me and enjoy an epic saga, or if you just like a good trilogy, then it is all here for you through the links on the right of the page.
What do you think? What sequels do you think don’t stand up to the original? What sequels surpass the originals? I’m curious as to what you think, so please share in your comments.
Save 40% off right now on any or all of my novels. This is a deal that cannot be beaten. Go to http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/rickpipito, select the book(s) you desire, and enter the code FALLSALE40 at checkout. Now you can catch up or begin the entire series that continues to grow in popularity.
Offer ends 11/4/13 at 11:59 pm, so don’t wait. Thanks for the support and spread the word!
Written by Rick Pipito; Cover art by Dan Pipito
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Pandora’s Box has been opened. Now humanity must face its darkest battle yet. The archangels of virtue and the demons of sin have come choose earthly hosts. It is a race against time for the legions of Heaven as they try to find the Sword of Eden. At the same time, the denizens of Hell attempt to locate the Spear of Destiny. These two artifacts could decide the war’s true victor.
While these gods fight for their own agendas, Gordon Lightcap must send his team of elite specialists to find what he believes will be the only thing that can save the human race.
The decisions made by humans will be crucial to the forces of Light and Darkness. Will the residents of Earth be virtuous, or will they give in to the seven deadly sins?
Each entity within will literally take the reader to heaven and hell, and back, as well as a close look at the true horror of it all.
***Although this book was meant to be read on its own, it is book 2 of a trilogy and book 5 of a series. Previous entries in the series include: “EDEN’S ORDER TRILOGY” & “SOULS 4 SUPPER” ***
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Written by Rick Pipito; Cover art by Dan Pipito
A new beginning has been granted to all humanity. After finding the Garden of Eden, illness and disease have been eradicated. Order has been restored, but when a decision is made to seek out balance, the quest to find chaos begins. As a damned soul struggles to make his return, Gordon Lightcap and his allies race to the lost city of Atlantis. Will they arrive in time to prevent the opening of the legendary Pandora’s Box? What dangers do they face and who can they trust?
Join humanity in a plot that intertwines ten short stories of ghosty hauntings and revelations. This is the world of “The Eternal Hunger Saga”
** This is Book one of a new trilogy, but book 4 of a series. If you have not read the first 3, then don’t worry, you can start here. Previous books in this series include: “Flesh And Leftovers,” “Blood, The Second Helping,” and “Bones At Breakfast”. **