At first I didn't understand why the Paris Hilton sex tape was newsworthy. At the time I didn't see any difference between a sex tape and pornography, and since there's so much pornography in the world I didn't see how any one video could be that special. As the years have passed, however, the line between what is a sex tape and what is just fucking on camera has been clarified: a sex tape is made by famous people, and porn is made by everybody else. There has to be a certain amount of shock value to catching these people with their pants down - otherwise it's just run of the mill smut.
(It turns out that my conceptual mistake was not knowing that Paris Hilton was famous until someone else pointed that out to me. But that's a digression for a different time.)
Anyway, a similar distinction could be made between studio movies that go bad and low budget movies that were always going to be bad. For example, someone recently told me that the only reason why the Jean Claude Van Damme movie Cyborg got made was because the people that made the He Man movie were so sure that it would be a hit that they had started building sets for the sequel before the first one came out. When it flopped, they had to think of something to do with the sets, so they invented a post-apocalyptic movie out of thin air and told JCVD that he had to star in it. No one has ever been mystified at the low production values of that movie; it is a mere schlocky b-movie just like Breast Obsessed volume 3 is merely porn.
In contrast, Rocky IV is not a low budget exploitation film. No, it's a direct descendant of a best picture winner. Furthermore, the first Rocky actually deserved the top prize - it's a character study with a lot ambiance, and the Rocky character is presented with a surprising amount of subtle humanity. It's light years beyond your average sports movie, which mostly regurgitate cliches. Unfortunately, this sequel is infinitely worse than that first Rocky. It is honestly shocking how shoddy it is, given that it's talent roster and marquee title. Rocky IV is so tacky that I feel comfortable calling it the movie equivalent of watching Paris Hilton answer her phone in the middle of mating.
Let's start with the script: Rocky IV's plot is so limited it could have been written in stick figures. In the beginning of the movie Rocky's old enemy turned old friend Apollo Creed signs up for a boxing match with a new Soviet super-athlete named Ivan Drago. Drago beats Creed to death in the ring. This makes Rocky mad, so Rocky trains to fight Drago, then Rocky fights him, then Rocky wins. That's the whole thing. There is never a moment where Rocky looks vulnerable. The Drago character is a total blank slate. Most egregiously, the idea that Rocky proving that he can beat a man half his age in a boxing match would be the catalyst that teaches the Soviets that communism is wrong is patently insane. Calling this film's script half-formed garbage is being charitable.
Because the main story is so obviously thin, a lot of padding had to be thrown in. There are a lot of montages in this movie. In fact, there are so many montages that at one point I was joking that they were going to have to make a montage of all the montages. (They might actually have done that; they all blurred together after awhile.) Even worse, a lot of the clips in the montage are from other Rocky's; they aren't even montages of whats happened in the movie, and they don't always match up. And if the parade of montages wasn't bad enough, they also throw in a music video in the first act!
In addition to being poorly written and poorly edited, the film is horribly acted. Dolph Lundgren, who plays Drago, escapes more or less unscathed, but all of the holdovers from the other Rocky movies are clearly phoning it in. Actually, Stallone isn't even phoning it in. I honestly hope that anyone who would use a telephone would put more effort into enunciating their words, because otherwise they're negating the point of using a telephone.
I generally try not to trash movies; there's a smugness inherent in that sort of review that I tend to find juvenile anymore. And honestly, I could have written a more positive review if I had focused on how much sarcastic fun can be had during this movie. But I can't let Rocky IV off the hook, because it isn't a crappy B-movie, and it isn't being made by people with no ambition. The people who made this knew how to make a good movie, and they had the budget to do it, and still they turned in a product they had to know was a drastic let down from it's predecessors. This film isn't just two people fucking; that's fine. This film is Paris Hilton making a sex tape, and that's fucking gross.
Winner: (For Art's Sake, the Cat; for humor value: me. Call it a Draw.)