Rocky Balboa (2006)

Rocky Balboa (2006)
  • Time: 102 min
  • Genre: Drama | Sport
  • Director: Sylvester Stallone
  • Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Burt Young, Antonio Tarver, Milo Ventimiglia


When he loses a highly publicized virtual boxing match to ex-champ Rocky Balboa, reigning heavyweight titleholder Mason Dixon retaliates by challenging the Itallian Stallion to a nationally televised, 10-round exhibition bout. To the surprise of his son and friends, Rocky agrees to come out of retirement and face an opponent who’s faster, stronger and thirty years his junior. With the odds stacked firmly against him, Rocky takes on Dixon in what will become the greatest fight in boxing history, a hard-hitting, action-packed battle of the ages.

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  • Sylvester Stallone like every Hollywood star has had their ups and downs in their careers. However throughout their career, Stallone is probably one of a small group of actors who have channeled their personal experiences into their own filmmaking. As many fans of the original Rocky (1976) know, the story of a down-on-his-luck boxer being given a chance of glory was taken directly from Stallone’s own life. It was because of this parallel that Stallone was able to relate to his character and act so well. As time went on, every sequel after the original became influenced by Stallone’s personal experiences. With that, the Rocky (1976) franchise has had mostly decent writing for every entry. Even with Rocky V (1990) being the weakest of the series, it still had parts of its writing that were intriguing. Thankfully with the failure of Rocky V (1990) this touching entry may not have been conceived at all. Apparently Stallone was disappointed enough with the outcome of Rocky V (1990) that it made him want to correct that mistake with one more entry and boy did he.

    Credited as actor/writer/director Sylvester Stallone has proven once again that he can manage these tasks simultaneously (of course given the right material to work with). Several years after Rocky V (1990), fans pickup with a now older Rocky (Sylvester Stallone), a widower and the owner of local Southern Philly restaurant named Adrian’s. When a boxing simulation is played publicly of who would win between then-Rocky and current heavyweight boxing champion Mason “The Line” Dixon (Antonio Tarver), Dixon’s managers convince him it would make a good career boost to make this a reality. Rocky on the other hand has things to consider. Stallone’s writing feels much closer to the first two films than it ever has before; it is very character driven. Rocky is still the fuzzy teddy bear he was 30 years ago and continues to enjoy talking to people and telling stories. He still hangs with Paulie (Burt Young), who still works at the original meat factory and reminisce the days of Adrian (Talia Shire’s role) in various throwback settings. This is by far the greatest tribute to any of the characters in the Rocky series, it is truly touching.

    That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s loads of development for several characters. Paulie, who usually has nothing great to say until the very end has a key moment with Rocky that shows his soft side. Milo Ventimiglia plays Robert (Rocky’s son) and has his own issues to confront with living in his dad’s shadow when the time came and it is handled appropriately with deep impact. Rocky also happens to run into a grownup Marie (Geraldine Hughes) from his past (in the original film) and son Steps (James Francis Kelly III). Marie too provides supporting dialog that is rich in texture and meaning when Rocky begins doubting himself in what he wanted to do. And although he could’ve been utilized far more than he was in final cut, long time training buddy Duke (Tony Burton) has one of the best pep-talks audiences will hear in years. It’s great to see that man back, he is a dedicated man that shows he’s still got a kick left in him.

    Along with that are numerous references to the older films. That means whether it is minor characters, landmarks or flashbacks. There‚Äôs always something for the fans of the original to look back on and remember with nostalgia. There may be references that even the most adamant of the series may not catch because of how subtle they are. When it came to the sports aspect of the film, it was well represented. Apparently not only did Stallone and Tarver physically share their faces with their fists but they also kept the actual sounds as well. The actual amount of boxing isn’t that abundant but it does payoff when the third act comes into play. Even so, with the amount of writing included to develop the characters properly, the boxing match is just the icing on the cake. The realism to this sports match was turned way up for this entry.

    Coinciding with the realism is cinematographer Clark Mathis’ work. Initially, the execution plays like a regular film but as the running time continues the camerawork changes from that of movie to realistic PPV camerawork. All of which is credible and well done except for one scene. This scene is when Rocky is explaining himself to the boxing board for him to have a boxing license. What Rocky says is moving but is clearly distracted by a shaky cam. Why – hard to say. Sure what’s being viewed looks more realistic but it’s distracting from what audiences should be hearing of what Rocky’s saying. Other than that it’s fine. Bill Conti returns again for the music to this popular series but he didn’t compose much of anything new. That’s probably the only disappointment. Sure, his music is recognizable by now and all he really did was cut and paste his old tracks to emote the feelings for each scene (which work great by the way), but that’s not what should be expected. It’s not like it’s being asked that Bill Conti change the Rocky theme or other memorable motifs but there’s always room for additions. It just feels lazy even though he did a great job mixing and editing his tracks.

    The whole experience is gratifying in its own sense just to see how Rocky has changed over the years and what he’s had to deal with. Even with competent camerawork that becomes randomly obnoxious at one point and memorable music that is recycled that clearly could have had additions, the final installment to the Rocky saga is a heartwarming closure due to its character driven writing and sports realism.

    Points Earned –> 7:10

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