Some might say there was no need for Rocky IV to be made. Maybe. But remember, America needed Rocky IV to be made. The WORLD needed Rocky IV to be made. The US was in the midst of a cold war with the Soviet Union. Without Rocky there to remind us that good triumphs evil, nature defeats man made anything, and we can all change for the better, where might the world be today? A nuclear winter, that’s where. And we all have Rocky IV to thank for saving us from that doomsday.
There are so many things to not love about the fourth installment in the series. There is the robot Paulie receives for his birthday. Then there is James Brown and a circus of performers giving the intro to the exhibition fight between Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) and Drago (Dolph Lundgren). Speaking of Drago – there’s him. He’s oiled up more than any boxer ever displayed in a Rocky film. He has about four lines in the entire movie and one could argue (strongly) they were four too many. Possibly the most dreadful part of Rocky IV comes in between Creed’s funeral and Rocky’s match with Drago – a long montage of clips from the past three films. It’s one of the laziest maneuvers a film can make.
With that said, Rocky IV is not a bad movie. It’s so over the top it’s fun. The setup of the USA vs the Soviet Union capitalizes on that particular moment in history. The spectacular display of Soviet technology in Drago’s training contrasted with Rocky’s training in nature is hard to beat. This isn’t even mentioning the introduction of a song, Hearts on Fire, that is nowhere near as good as Eye of the Tiger, but combine it with a surreal montage of Rocky using nature as his Nautilus machine and it’s unbeatable.
It’s highly doubtful I could ever argue that the good in Rocky IV outweighs the bad. Who am I kidding? Much of what I consider “good” in the movie is often quite bad. It’s so bad it’s good. Rocky IV is one of those movies. It takes itself super serious and yet it makes me smile every time I see it. Rocky IV is like Rocky III but on steroids, which is perfectly fitting.
Nostalgia heavily tints a movie like Back to the Future for someone my age. It’s not just another movie. It’s a phenomenon. Michael J. Fox. Huey Lewis and the News. 1985. As my son likes to say, “good times, good times.”
Watching the movie always feels familiar and comforting. This time around I watched it in a wonderfully remastered Blu-ray. Wow! What a difference that makes. If you like the movies, then I highly suggest picking up the triology on Blu-ray. The picture is so much better than what I saw last on DVD.
Watching Marty McFly travel 30 years in the past, make a mess of his own history and then scramble to fix it and get back to 1985 reminded me how much I enjoyed Michael J. Fox growing up. Even in some fairly terriblemovies that came later, I still enjoyed them if for no other reason than the energy Fox brought to the screen.
Back to the Future is a fun watch. There aren’t any big laughs for me but the twists with time travel, no matter how convoluted they can get towards the end, make for some funny moments. The action is lively but never over the top, something most adventure films these days should take note of. The constraints of movie making circa 1985 weren’t all that bad for films like this. Instead of over stylized action shots we get interesting set pieces and construction of scenes.
Nostalgia is strange, especially when it comes to movies. When I think of Back to the Future without having watched it for a while, I think “great movie”. When I watch it, I think “very good movie”. The opening act is uneven, with the McFly family and other characters like Biff and Mr. Strickland played way over the top. It’s intentional but the intended laughs don’t come as a result. The scene with Marty blowing away the high school dance with his 80’s style guitar shredding is awesome until they have Michael J. Fox lip sync the song. On Blu-ray it was painful to watch. There are some other smaller nitpicks that I won’t delve into mainly because they aren’t important other than it all adds up to making Back to the Future a less than five star movie for me. Still a fun repeatable watch and a strong start to a solid trilogy. More on the other two films in the future.