Rocky Balboa is back in action. Does this movie fit with the rest of series? Is Sly Stallone too old? All these questions answered and more by David Rawding.
Rocky is back! ‘The Italian Stallion’ has laced up his gloves for the last time. But do I want to see this brittle Rocky? Should I pretend the film never happened and relish in the glory of the five original Rocky films? It is really easy to be skeptical about this final edition to the series. Sylvester Stallone has passed his prime, pushing 60 years old. What is Rocky trying to prove?
The answer to the latter question is that this is Rocky’s last fight. He wants to prove that he still has what it takes to be a respected fighter, an understanding father, and legendary champion. What this movie does really well is wrap up loose ends. There are three different conflicts that meet the aging Rocky head on. Rocky trying to let go of his dead wife, Adrian, the old era versus the current generation of fighter, and lastly, dealing with Rocky Jr., now 25, bitter about living in his father’s shadow.
In Rocky Balboa, Balboa appears as an aging ex-champion moving through the modern world as a ghost stuck in the past. He clings to memories of his deceased loved ones, experiencing flashbacks throughout the story, while the rest of the world moves along without him. He’s still the people’s champion, especially to the people of Philadelphia.
In contrast, the current undefeated boxing champion of the world, Mason ‘The Line’ Dixon (Antonio Tarver), finds his fighting career unfulfilling, because no one appears to fight at his caliber. His own fans turn on him, because he does not push himself the way former champions have in the past.
Mason and Rocky are brought together by an ESPN broadcast of a computer simulated fight showing Rocky victorious over the faster, younger, Mason. Mason’s publicists set up an “old verse new” exhibition match as a publicity stunt to win back Mason’s fans.
Meanwhile, Rocky Jr. shows frustration by being the son of a legend stuck behind the shadow of a beloved hero. He is bitter toward his father for choosing to step back in the spotlight. Rocky struggles to win his son back. With his friends and family at his side Rocky begins his training, which proves to be the next challenge. His body can not handle any kind of cardio vascular activity so he trains by lifting massive amounts of weight. Rocky’s goal is to take down Mason with punishing blows, instead of fancy footwork.
Of course there is plenty of meat pounding, egg-eating, and step celebrations encompassed in the familiar montage music. Some things will never change. You can not have a Rocky movie without Paulie (Burt Young), making a little dough off Rocko’s name or Rocky getting his face punched to a bloody pulp. That’s just standard.
Rocky Balboa proves itself as a fine ending to the Rocky series. The ageless recipe of the under-dog beating the odds is the winning formula for the Rocky series. I have to say I never thought it would be possible to make another Rocky, but Rocky Balboa proved me wrong. Almost as crazy an idea as making another Rambo movie-which it turns out, is in the works; Sly Stallone isn’t done with action movies yet. Just like his character Rocky, he “still has some stuff left in the basement’ (metaphorically speaking).