28 December 2006

Rocky Balboa

Rocky does it again

When it comes to Stallone, I will watch anything that he is in. I especially make sure that I see movies that he writes. After seeing what Renny Harlin and the film editor did to Driven, I was pleased to see that Stallone himself would be behind the camera for the sixth and final installment of Rocky. I was a member on the blog when this film started shooting. I was waiting and waiting for pictures and videos from the set. Most people laughed at the thought of another Rocky movie after all these years. I did a little, too. I mean, Rocky was originally going to die in the street fight of the fifth movie. So, I thought, where is he going to go with this movie? I could not wait. My wife decided that she would go with me to see Rocky Balboa, but she had never seen any of the other films. So, we watched the original 1976 Academy Award winning film the night before, and then I filled her in on the other four movies. I recommend watching the original before seeing this new one. I was glad I did.

Throughout the three decades of Rocky, all the actors remained the same except for who played Rocky Jr. Each film has a different actor. Milo Ventimiglia portrays the role last played by Sly’s own son, Sage in Rocky V. Other than that, Duke, Paulie, and Rocky himself are back. Adrienne is not back, her character died of “lady’s disease” before the start of the film. Some characters from the past are brought back. Spider Rico, Mary, Cuff and Link. Though Mary is not the same little girl actress from the original. This is where watching the first one again helped out in knowing who they were.

We open on Rocky being a restaurant owner. He tells tales to customers about is illustrious boxing career. He then goes around Philadelphia to all the places tha meant something to him and Adrienne. He visits the pet shop and the ice rink that is now a vacant lot. He has trouble dealing with the loss of his wife.

In the meantime, the public hates the current heavyweight champion Mason “The Line” Dixon, played by real life boxer Antonio Tarver. He has not had a decent fight in a long time and nobody wants to box him. A computer simulated fight puts our beloved hero Rocky, in his prime, in the ring with Dixon. The computer says that Rocky would win by a knockout. This gets Rocky to thinking that he is not done. There is still a beast inside him that needs to be fed.

Rocky then has to fight the boxing commission to grant him a license. After winning that fight, he is confronted with the idea of an exhibition bout with Dixon. After some thought, he decides to do it. Of course, a training montage precedes the fight. His usual energy drink of raw eggs makes an appearance, too. What is cool is that they filmed the fight after a real HBO Pay-Per-View fight. They got all the commentators to do the color commentary on the fight. Michael Buffer even does the ring announcement for the fighters. I read a review that stated that Stallone directs with very little inspiration until the fight itself.

I want to take a moment here to say that Stallone directs this first part of the film in the same tone as the original. Because of his love for the character and the franchise as a whole, this movie works. Without Stallone behind the camera, this movie would have been warped into something else entirely.The fight goes on and I am not going to give away the ending. But this film, to me, was very inspirational. I only hope that when I am 60, I am in that good of shape. Along the way, Rocky and other characters deliver insight to life.

Verdict: My wife thought it was sappy, but I ate it up. I went into this movie expecting a great film, and I left very satisfied. Rocky Balboa was the finale that Rocky V could only dream of being. Verdict: Obviously, I highly recommend seeing this film in theaters…. at least once. It will have you chanting: ROCKY! ROCKY! ROCKY!

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