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Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Movie Review - "Rocky Revision"

Another Hole in the Head Film Festival Review: “Rocky Revision” - Ain't Gonna Be No Rematch

By Mike Imboden

In addition to Revision of the Planet of the Apes, Jorge Torres-Torres has another film running at this year’s Another Hole in the Head Film Festival: Rocky Revision. Like the five-film franchise about a planet where apes evolved from man, Torres-Torres takes the five-film Rocky series — including the sixth, Rocky Balboa — and re-edits the proceedings to tell a slightly different tale than what Sylvester Stallone originally gave us. And, just like Apes, this sounds like it could be fun.

Unfortunately, it’s not as good as it sounds like it might be.

It seems that Torres-Torres wasn’t too sure of what he was going for and this bit of hesitation is all it takes to throw this off the rails.  Wanting to keep some characterization, but sacrificing too much of it in awkward edits, results in a disjointed affair.  Rocky is bumbling around a very shy Adrian in one scene and within a couple more they are married.  Look away for a moment and Rocky, Jr. is in Adrian’s arms. Too much happens too quickly for any of it to have any impact, not that it would anyway since the trimmed “slow parts” omit any real character progression.  So at least we’re left with the “fast” parts, right? Rocky vs Apollo one and two, Rocky vs Clubber, Drago vs Apollo . . . The main events, if you will.  We get those, right?

Not exactly.

There’s just enough to show you who wins, but sadly, a vast majority of the well-structured boxing scenes are trimmed.  Of course there’s enough to satisfy, but just barely. Like, the difference between Apollo and Rocky trying to beat the 10-count in Rocky II, barely. Honestly, my first thought when I heard of this was that we were going to get one really long movie of choreographed boxing with little bits of other stuff to bridge each fight.  That might have gotten a bit tedious after an hour, let alone ninety minutes, but it would have made for a more entertaining film.  The biggest fault I have with this is the editing of Rocky’s dialog in some places to make him sound extremely punch drunk and/or just plain stupid.  Part of the charm of Rocky Balboa is watching his character progress and grow.  These goofy edits take all of that way, robbing the “Italian Stallion” of not just his heart, but soul as well.

That’s not all to say this is without merits.  Torres-Torres tucks some clever and interesting thoughts in here and there, as well as a couple of funny bits.  With the latter, one particularly hilarious scene is when Mickey is watching Clubber Lang’s press conference and he gets angry, throwing down the food he was eating. Instead of what we expect, we get other footage of Mr. T (who plays Clubber Lang, for those of you who forgot).  I won’t spoil what that footage is, but to see Mickey enraged by it got a good spit-take from yours truly.  The former — the interesting angles — is where this shines and could (should?) have explored more.  As an example; If you’re a fan of 1980s WWF wrestling, you’ll recall Mr. T and Hulk Hogan having a friendship.  Well, since both men are in Rocky III, there’s some potential for something interesting that Torres-Torres pokes at and even cleverly adds in a little non-Rocky footage which works in a fun way.  There’s also the slick way of making parts 1-4 somewhat seamless by moving a few shots around (Clubber Lang watching both Rocky and Apollo bouts, for example).

There’s some fun, clever, and interesting ideas that result from his edits, and there’s a bit of an unexpected way to end the story, but too much character building is sacrificed so that what remains doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  In the end, when the scorecards are tallied up, Torres-Torres gets a split-decision at best, and more likely a draw.

Rocky Revision screens as part of San Francisco's Another Hole in the Head Film Festival, which started on December 1st and ends on Wednesday the 15th, has an offering of over 25 features and 200+ short films. The majority of content is available on-demand via the Eventive platform, plus live online screenings with audience interaction and filmmaker Q&A on the Zoom platform, plus the long-awaited theatrical screenings at New People Cinema in San Francisco's Japantown.

The final day of the Another Hole in the Head schedule, along with ticket links and programming details, are available at https://holehead2021.eventive.org/welcome

For a direct link to Rocky Revision, which shows at 7pm on the 15th, go to: https://holehead2021.eventive.org/films/61989ab0079c0600c00c0436

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