Rocky IV (1985)


Shot from a recipe rather than a script, and all over in ninety minutes, this is by any measure an uninventive and unnecessary sequel, yet just as unquestionably one of the key films of the nineteen-eighties.
Hard to guess what audiences of the future will make of it, but historians will never tire of analysing its Reagan-era quintessentiality. It doesn't even attempt subtlety: the battle between Rocky, in his stars and stripes shorts, and doped-up robotic Russian Lundgren, who killed Apollo Creed in the ring, is unashamedly played as a Cold War grudge match. Those who insist on pretending the Soviet Union wasn't a threat to the safety of the entire world can look forward to a feast of cynicism; the rest of us may find ourselves strangely comforted by its old-fashioned certainties.

This was the first Rocky film I ever saw, at the cinema, for my twelfth birthday. Objectivity is out of the question, and I still put it on every five years or so to remind myself how old I'm getting.
It's a terrible film, unimaginably crude and formulaic, but I enjoy everything about it - including its enviable naivety.