When I was growing up, I had this habit of becoming obsessed with an actor and then seeking out every movie they ever acted in. I’d spend my weekends scouring old video stores looking for some random movie starring John Travolta or Robin Williams that I had never seen. I’d cross reference it with early internet lists or Blockbuster Guide to the Movies and then once I completed my list, or completed as much as I could, I’d move onto another actor.
When I reached Arnold Schwarzenegger, my fandom evolved. I picked up books and read about his career and even had a poster on my bedroom wall. There was just something so magnificent about this beast of man who was by far the biggest movie star in the world. It’s crazy to think about it now, but we just don’t have actors that seem so much bigger than life like Schwarzenegger did in the 80’s and 90’s.
During the 80’s and 90’s, there were lots of on-going debates that people had such as: Freddy or Jason? McDonald’s or Burger King? Nirvana or Pearl Jam? and of course, Schwarzenegger or Stallone? I would always answer Schwarzenegger without skipping a beat.
But as I’ve gotten older, my appreciation for Sylvester Stallone has risen more and more. And not just for his acting ability, but also his work behind the camera.
It always come back to Rocky, but that is where my Stallone fandom truly took off ten or fifteen years ago. I decided I needed to re-watch the series and of course, by the end of Rocky you find yourself questioning whether you just watched the greatest movie ever and you feel like you can take on the world.
But as much as I love Rocky and First Blood, it’s really his movies of the 90’s that planted a seed of fandom.
Back in the day, HBO used to play a handful of movies on a constant rotation for a few months. It’s not too unlike the way streaming services operate now, constantly rotating in and out movies. Folks weren’t so obsessed with movie reviews, there was no Rotten Tomatoes, and I think because of that people discovered movies that might not have received as much love as they deserved in theaters, or maybe weren’t the highest of quality but were a lot of fun.
A couple of the movies that I discovered on HBO were Daybreak and Demolition Man, two of my favorite Stallone movies. Demolition Man has become a cult movie over the last few years thanks to it’s creepily accurate prediction of cancel culture and retro obsession. But back in the 90’s, it was just a fun movie with some over-the-top (no pun intended) performances, and some quirky dialogue that quickly made it’s way into my brother and my vocabulary such as “Mellow Greetings” and “Whats your boggle?”
Last week, I re-watched Demolition Man and found it to be just enjoyable as ever. It’s well paced, has excellent world building, features some meticulously designed sets, and well is just a lot of fun.
Daybreak is a movie that I forgot about until about a year ago, when out of no where it came flooding (again, no pun intended) back into my memory. I hopped online, ordered a blu-ray and enjoyed the heck out of it when it arrived. It’s your typical natural disaster type survival movie from the 90’s with some unbelievable scenes and a few stupid scenes, but again, like Demolition Man it’s just a lot of fun and has a catchy score.
It was rewatching these two movies recently that I realized why my choice in Stallone or Schwarzenegger changed as I got older, Stallone was just more relatable. As much as I love Arnold and his massive displays of aggression, Stallone is someone I feel like I can relate to. He’s smaller in stature and isn’t the most handsome guy in the world. In Rocky and First Blood, he plays damaged men that vulnerability shows through. While Arnold is just non-stop kickass, Stallone was the guy you could go, “Yeah, I believe he’s a bum who is an enforcer, but is too nice to actually hurt people.”
I appreciate Stallone’s handling of both the Rocky and Rambo franchises. He’s worked hard at keeping them alive, but trying not to over-saturate the market. For the most part, the sequels are good.
I’m also a big fan of the way he’s worked to keep the action genre alive and finally gave us some dream team ups in The Expendables series and Escape Plan. While neither series rivaled anything from the 80’s and 90’s, they were fun action flicks to enjoy.
Now Stallone is about to embark on a TV series created by Taylor Sheridan known for his hit show Yellowstone and one of my all-time favorite movies Hell or High Water. He may be 75 years old, but he doesn’t seem to be slowing down any. I have a sneaking suspicion The Tulsa King will be a big hit and similar to Yellowstone it’ll bring more people around to embrace the twilight of his his career like Yellowstone did for Kevin Costner.