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Rocky Balboa

Genre: Drama
Rated: PG
Directed by
: Sylvester Stallone
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Burt Young, Antonio Tarver, Geraldine Hughes, Milo Ventimiglia, Tony Burton, Talia Shire
Released by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

In Short: Thirty years after he won our hearts in the ring, Rocky is back in a surprisingly effective finale to the long-running film series.

Yo, He's Back
Rocky Takes One More Shot
by Jenny Peters

Do we really need another “Rocky” film? After five films spanning the years 1976 to 1990, most of us thought that there was nothing left to say about (or milk out of) the working-class boxer from Philadelphia who went all the way to the heavyweight championship of the world. Most of us except Sylvester Stallone, that is, who still had one more story to tell.

And surprisingly (especially after seeing the abysmal “Rocky V”), this final chapter that Stallone wrote, directed, and (naturally) stars in is a good movie. Rocky is older, running his Italian restaurant in South Philly and still living in the past, at least in his memories, of both his late wife Adrian and his former glories in the ring.

When ESPN airs a computer-generated fantasy fight between Rocky in his heyday and the current world heavyweight champion (Antonio Tarver, who in real life was the light heavyweight world champ), Rocky’s world is turned upside down. As the media spotlight is put on him once more, interest builds for an exhibition match between the two fighters, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The enticing thing about “Rocky Balboa” is that the film is a winning combination of a one-two punch. Rocky’s journey back to the ring is an insightful look at the inevitable aging process of an athlete—and the often depressing realities, both physical and emotional, that go along with that. Then, once he gets there, the fight sequences are truly exciting and unexpectedly believable.

It certainly helps that 60-year-old Sylvester Stallone still sports a washboard stomach and massive arms, and that he still looks good enough in the ring to make the battle look real. And it also helps that while there is a little bit of cornpone slung as the story unfolds, the film is on the whole a mostly unsentimental look at how the desire for our past glories often colors our present actions, and not always in a positive sense.

So don’t be surprised if, when the final bell rings on the “Rocky” saga, you actually find yourself feeling a little bit choked up and emotional. After all, it’s been a 30-year journey that many viewers have taken with this character, and this bittersweet film is a fitting finale to Rocky’s “anyone can make it to the top with determination and guts” attitude and iconic reflection of the classic American dream.


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