Everything I know about relationships I learned from watching Lock Up.
If you don’t believe me, watch how the story of Stallone’s prison drama translates perfectly into real life.
Stallone is a man in a low security prison, his time nearly up and freedom just on the horizon. Then, suddenly, he’s transferred to a high security prison by a sadistic warden out for revenge.
In marriage, sometimes things are going along fine, there’s no fighting or shouting and there are only a few weeks left until your divorce settlement comes through. Then, out of nowhere, your wife will go bananas and start making bizarre allegations against you, wanting to take everything you own (not just what she has a right to) and will try to drag everything out as long as possible, making those final few weeks a living hell.
This warden, pissed off that Stallone has dragged his name through the mud and ruined his career, is determined to make Stallone spend the rest of his life in jail. He gets sadistic inmates working for him, bullying Stallone, making threats and trying to force him to do something stupid that will ruin his chances of ever getting out. But Stallone tries to rise above it all, except for the time he takes on the bad guys in a football game to prove his manhood.
When your wife nags and nags and nags, trying to goad you into a fight, just ignore her. She just wants to have an incident to tell the courts about to make you look bad. Only when she questions your manhood should you challenge her to a game of football in the mud and then you should punch her in the face really really hard when she’s not looking. She won’t nag you again in a hurry.
Stallone makes friends with the usual prison “good guys”; a talkative guy who can get anything, a fatherly guy who runs the prison garage, an innocent young guy who’s had his youth taken away by a double-life sentence and an old guy who just wants to feed the birds. Together, they try to rise above the system and just make it through their time together.
When it all gets too much, you go to the pub and get drunk with your friends; the talkative friend who knows everything, the wiser older friend who doesn’t say much but everyone wishes was their older brother, the younger friend whom everyone is protective of and who looks up to you for guidance and the quiet friend who just wants to sleep with all the birds. Together, you pretend your lives are perfect for a short while, until you have to go back to prison… I mean home.
Stallone is a beaten, bloodied wreck of a man and with his time nearly done his patience has run out. He gives in to temptation when the bad guys kill the young innocent guy, and Stallone is determined to set things straight with the baddies and the warden, once and for all.
When you discover that your wife has slept with your younger friend from the pub, you can’t stand it anymore. Determined to set things right, you poison her dog, sleep with her best friend, tell her boss she’s a lesbian, pour oil on her car and then hire a really, really good lawyer to clean her out in court. And then you buy your friend a beer because you know he was just desperate for a shag.
See? What did I tell you? Lock Up should be mandatory viewing for every guy considering marrying their girlfriend. If you watch this film without thinking of the deeper subtexts and hidden meanings, you’ll just think it was Stallone running out of ideas and sending Rocky to jail.
But believe me, hidden under the trite acting, shameful dialogue and woeful climax, it’s actually a very cleverly made documentary designed to save the single man from a lifetime of depression.
This film was made in 1989, but it looks older than its age.
Starting at the colour scheme, being that the film is set in a prison, it’s a pale and drab range of hues, with no remarkable standout colours pulling out of the blahness.
Blacks are a bit weak, the contrast range is too shallow and the picture looks a little less defined because of it.
Grain is visible in a small number of shots, but the picture looks like it has been processed to remove it, which might account for the lack of finer detail. I noted that the bitrate dropped very low in many spots as well, some of the lowest I’ve noticed recently.
After the clarity and definition of the newer DVDs I’ve reviewed recently, Lock Up, really looks very, very ordinary in comparison.
The audio makes the film sound even older again. Just Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround, it's flat and lifeless. The frontstage is a bit mushy, with no sense of separation across the channels. Dialogue is reasonably clear, but even this has trouble dealing with some of Sly’s more mangled outbursts, reducing some of his lines to a blur of “Mannyhurffer ur! Wanna Mern! Argg!” which I think was the more emotional of his outbursts, something referring to the amount of starch in his collars. The surrounds may as well have been in solitary confinement, because they were scarcely utilised throughout, adding only the smallest amount of support. They did pick up a little during one or two scenes, but the overall effect is negligible. The many foley effects are also very jarring when they occur, the more prominent ones, such as the punches in the fights, are incredibly fake sounding. The transfer in this regard is fine for making them sound just like the original film would have them, but the sound guys on the film should have been shot.
This is hardly the worst that Stallone has ever done, but needless to say it's also hardly the best. The average prison drama has nothing new added by his grunting and groaning and feeble attempts at emotion. At this point in his career, I'm surprised that we didn't see Stallone in Sew Up!, an action-drama where he plays a brain surgeon forced to perform a lobotomy on himself when the hospital is taken over by a violent terrorist group made up of English professors.
As for the matter of the DVD, well it’s safe to say that I wasn’t impressed with much of it at all. Lacklustre audio, average image and two trailers for non-Stallone films. All up it only just makes the grade for Stallone fanatics and stupid people determined to own every single DVD released just so they can proudly tell you how many individual discs they own.