Movie Notes: Rocky Balboa
= 4 stars
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Burt Young, Geraldine Hughes
Directed by Sylvester Stallone
A much older Rocky Balboa, a former heavyweight champ, is retired and running a restaurant in his home town Philadelphia. He is hung up on the death of his wife, his strained relationship with his son, and his past days of glory. A sports show runs a computer simulation of Rocky Balboa up against the current champ, Mason Dixon, which inspires Rocky to make it happen for real.
- Despite a fairly unbelievable plot – somehow it works, and enough that I was sold during the final fight. Maybe it’s due to some careful plot choices – Rocky only comes back for one exhibition fight, not to reclaim his title (he doesn’t battle his way through thirty matches to crawl up through the ranks), and Mason Dixon is “just” a boxer (as opposed to a Russian superhuman pumped up with steroids).
- It returns to the original Rocky feeling of an underdog facing a huge challenge.
- The first half of the film re-establishes Rocky as a down to earth guy who misses his wife and realizing that his better years are behind him. We reconnect and feel sympathy for the character before the boxing begins.
- Mason Dixon, the current heavy weight champ, isn’t as defined or as memorable as the brutes in the other movies (Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang, Ivan Drago).
- The film’s style is all over the place and almost random. Every new type of film and camera is used, and scenes are shot from every possible angle and then stitched together in the editing room. I found it distracting.
- Stallone’s face looks like it’s been stitched together in every possible manner, too.
I wouldn’t call myself a Rocky fan, but I did enjoy Rocky Balboa enough to recommend it. It’s easily better than Rocky IV and Rocky V and is a solid conclusion to the series, returning us to the core character of Rocky, his roots, and views on life.
There’s another “comeback” story here: Sylvester Stallone as an actor / writer / director. Stallone pulls off another Rocky movie against seemingly insurmountable odds.
But ultimately, I liked Rocky Balboa because it highlights Rocky as a huge lug sitting at his wife’s grave back in Philly, in addition to a bloody, sweaty “Italian Stallion” in the ring. It has a good balance between thoughtful drama and boxing stuff, and in the process made me care about Rocky before he gets the tar beat out of him.
IMDB: Rocky Balboa
Wikipedia: Rocky Balboa
Rotten Tomatoes: Rocky Balboa 75%