Balboa may not be good, but it's highly entertaining. Stallone
still knows how to make a crowd pleaser. If a room full of bitter old journalists
can cheer and applaud a noon screening, then maybe Stallone knows a lot
more about residual heart than us skeptics give him credit for.
Review: Rocky Balboa
Rocky is now a widower running a restaurant in
Philly. His son avoids him and Paulie still complains about everything.
He basically relives the past telling boxing stories to customers and visiting
his run down old haunts, until an ESPN computer simulation suggests Rocky
in his prime could beat the current champ, Mason Dixon (subtle name, huh?)
The opportunity to have a real exhibition match gives Rocky something to
fight for again.
Forget that in Rocky V he was one punch away from a brain
hemorrhage. The film addresses everything we've been thinking about coming
back to this territory. You're living in the past, Sly. Well, he's kind
of admitting it. You're too old to keep doing this. Well, yeah, that's the
point. All the medical, social and ethical facets of this comeback are addressed
The real joy of the film is just seeing Rocky again. How often do you get
to see a sequel to one of your childhood franchises? Star Wars
doesn't even count because they had all new people and newfangled styles.
Superman Returns may be the closest comparison.
Just hearing the music, seeing Rocky stroll around
in his fedora and jacket, basking in the community love where he's a local
hero is a treat. You do feel sorry for the reflective lonely widower and
Rocky's nostalgia rubs off. You want to see the skating rink again. When
he gives a crying, mumbly, slurry speech, it's like the good old times.
Reality hits Rocky in a delightful way too. He's still so traditional but
he's faced with things like single mothers with mixed race children. There's
no judgment, but he's just so innocent.
Most importantly, the training montage is awesome. Running, weights, pull-ups,
more weights, beating a tire, keg lifts, meat slabs and raw eggs. YES!
The ultimate fight has a real narrative to it. It's the traditional beating/recovery
that rouses you up for the inevitable comeback. This time, there are real
mortal stakes as well. Remember, Stallone wanted to kill Rocky at the end
of V. The beating he takes here, could he go there again?
The fight is shot like a Pay Per View, so it's not particularly artistic.
Maybe that's the point, but throwing in some black and white frames doesn't
change the fact that it essentially looks like watching TV.
Practically every line of dialogue is a slogan. People just spout metaphors
at each other or inspirational bumper stickers. Any one of them may be good,
but it does seem a tad desperate. The inclusion of mouthy teens is awkward,
as if Stallone really knows modern street talk."
But for a last hurrah, Stallone really proved he's still got it. He can
still do heart, drama, spectacle and underdogs. So what the hell happened