Saturday, November 28, 2015

Movie Review: "Rocky Balboa" (2006)

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Movie"Rocky Balboa"
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Year: 2006
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) is long retired from boxing and now runs an Italian restaurant in Philadelphia. His wife Adrian has passed away, but her brother Paulie (Burt Young) is still around and working at the meat packing plant. After ESPN runs a computer simulation showing Rocky beating the current heavyweight champion, Mason Dixon (Antonio Tarver), it drives public interest for an exhibition bout between the over 60 year old Rocky and the world champ. 

16 years have passed since the poorly received "Rocky V" was released. With that unfortunate slip-up mostly out of the minds of the movie-going masses, Sylvester Stallone hops back in the director's chair to shoot his new script about his most famous character, Rocky Balboa. Rocky hasn't been in a boxing ring since facing Ivan Drago back in the 80's when Russia was still behind the Iron Curtain. Rocky spends his evenings at his restaurant, which he named after his now deceased wife Adrian. At this restaurant, he regales stories about his past fights with Apollo Creed and others, telling tales about the good old days. Most of the Philadelphia neighborhood has changed with the exception of Rocky's brother-in-law Paulie, played once again by Burt Young, who has a smaller part in this movie but is still the same belligerent drunk he has always been. Meanwhile, the current heavyweight champion Mason 'The Line' Dixon, played by real life former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver, is not a well liked or popular champion. Most people think he's a paper champion who has been spoon-fed his opponents in the hopes of padding his record. He hasn't been pulling good Pay-Per-View numbers, which as we all know is all that matters in the modern boxing landscape. After ESPN runs a computer simulation, inspired by the Ali vs. Marciano dream match, showing Rocky knocking out Dixon, it gives Dixon's manager and promoter an idea to make the simulation fight a reality. Luckily, continuity has never been a strong suit in the Rocky franchise. As it turns out, Rocky's life threatening permanent brain damage was not so permanent or life threatening after all. It seems to just disappear much like his eye injury from "Rocky III" did. The Rocky series has always been pretty dramatic, and in "Rocky Balboa," there's a lot of reflective drama as Rocky copes with the death of the love of his life, his wife Adrian. Rocky has also had a falling out with his now-adult son Robert Balboa Jr., played by Milo Ventimiglia, who is tired of being in his father's shadow. Rocky Jr. seems to blame a lot of his problems on his dad being famous and still carries a massive chip on his shoulder. This is a rather unfounded complaint and the character does come off as a bit of a whiner, but damn, Stallone and Ventimiglia look like they could be related! Great casting on the part of the film. The style of this movie is probably closest to that of the original "Rocky" rather than any of its subsequent sequels, and we welcome and enjoy this return to form after such a formulaic repetition over the decades. Overall, we really liked this movie. It is an entertaining, heartfelt film that is great return to form after the slump of "Rocky V." It made me cry at least once, but makes us wonder, what was Talia Shire so busy doing that she couldn't return even for a brief cameo? Who knows, and really, who care, because the film came out great. An unexpectedly great movie!

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 76%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
To see our review of "Rocky," click here.

To see our review of "Rocky II," click here.

To see our review of "Rocky III," click here.

To see our review of "Rocky IV," click here.

To see our review of "Rocky V," click here.

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