“That’s a wrap!” There used to be a time on any number of film sets when those three deathless words signified the major achievement of a movie crew finishing a hard fought and fruitful production. Those words came with equal amounts of joy, sadness and frustration; after all as Leonardo da Vinci was noted as saying, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” If that old bromide is correct – and who am I to doubt the man who gave us the one and only Mona Lisa for cripes sake – then Hollywood is a town of abandoned projects as any number of late in the day so-called director and producer cuts of well-known films that exist on DVD and Blu-Ray will attest. Out there in the big, wide world we have parallel renditions of such cinematic staples as Dances With Wolves, Brazil, Star Wars, Apocalypse Now, Superman 2, True Romance, My Own Private Idaho and Zodiac and those are just a small number of films that have gone back to the proverbial well in an attempt to indulge in the public’s good will (and pocketbook), all in an attempt to shine a light on what a well-intentioned writer and or director originally intended as being their true vision.
We can now add director and star Sylvester Stallone’s very own Rocky 4 to the above tally, piggybacking off of the recent news about Zack Snyder’s JLA director’s cut which is forthcoming from HBOMax. Per our fellow Rock-heads over at The Hollywood Reporter, ol’ Sly himself has whittled together an anniversary director’s cut of his fourth installment in the hit-or-miss Rocky franchise.
“For the 35th anniversary, Rocky 4 is getting a new director’s cut by me,” the Italian Stallion said in a press release. “So far it looks great. Soulful. Thank you MGM for this opportunity to entertain.”
Of course, one of the sticking points that make director’s or producer’s cuts such Good News-Bad News type of affairs is what is sometimes added to the proceedings – or what is taken out. In a pinch of news that makes the part of my soul that worships at the altar of the Two Corey’s and each subsequently cheesier installments in the original Nightmare On Elm Street film franchise cry out in abject pain, the man who was Johnny Kovak (i.e. Stallone) revealed that, among other alterations to his magnum opus, he will be completely erasing any trace of Paulie’s robot. “The robot is going to the junkyard forever, no more robot,” Stallone informed fans. For those who need a Rocky 4 refresher, said robot was the computerized servant of Rock-O’s brother-in-law, Paulie (Burt Young) who existed for the purposes of this fourth installment to not only do everyone’s bidding, but to also provide some humor for audiences before beloved character Apollo Creed headed off for the Happy Hunting Grounds. Thirty five years later, Stallone has optioned his George Lucas Clause to excise any characters that don’t gel with 2020 Sly. As is his right as the artist and creator…But damn, I for one am gonna miss that robotic piece of cheese. Jus’ sayin’, y’all.
Although light on detail such as new running time, additional scenes added, additional scenes cut, etc. the news of a refurbished Rocky 4 has already sent tongues a-wagging, creating an internet frenzy which is slightly akin to a Pizza Ranch buffet line at lunchtime. In the vernacular of the 21st century, Rocky 4 is now “trending.” Vents will jump back on this particular bandwagon just as soon as we have new details to share. Meantime remember, in the immortal words of our hero Rocky Balboa, “If I can change and you can change, everybody can change.” In this day and age this reviewer hopes that is one line that doesn’t get left on the cutting room floor along with Paulie’s robot.