I am a huge fan of the "Rocky" series, but I figured that I was going to hate "Rocky Balboa", considering how depressing and disappointing "Rocky V" was. There was no way Sylvester Stallone, despite his brilliance, could write a realistic story about a 60-year-old man getting back into boxing.
Once again, like his character, Stallone has defied the odds.
I give Stallone a lot of credit. When he announced plans to make "Rocky VI", he took about as many punches as Rocky. This included a clever Top 10 List from David Letterman, "Top 10 Signs Sylvester Stallone Is Too Old to Play Rocky." Stallone took it all in stride, and he managed to come up with an entertaining story.
Stallone had to bridge a huge gap since it has been so long since "Rocky V." Over the years, Adrian Balboa has died from "women's cancer," Rocky's son has moved out, and Rocky has his own Italian restaurant, appropriately called Adrian's. Rocky and his son are having trouble getting along, mostly because Rocky casts a big shadow. When Rocky reapplies for his boxing license, the distance increases.
Meanwhile, the new champ, Mason "The Line" Dixon (Antonio Tarver), loses his deal with HBO because he only fights second-class fighters. When an ESPN computer-simulated fight between the two has Rocky winning, the stage is set.
I enjoyed the fact that most of the movie takes place in Philadelphia as did the original "Rocky." As there became more and more sequels, the more time Rocky spent away from his roots. When a majority of "Rocky IV" took place in the Soviet Union, it really took a lot away from the character of Rocky. This movie has a very "homey" aspect to it. I'm a sucker for those training scenes, too. The fighting scenes are very realistic, and they don't look as rehearsed as other Rocky fights. I also found much symmetry between "Rocky Balboa" and the original, but I'll let you the moviegoer figure that out.
If you have seen any other Rocky movies, you know that they are extremely corny, and "Rocky Balboa" is no exception. Rocky visits famous sites from other "Rocky" movies, especially the original, which requires knowledge of the story. This theme got old after a while. I couldn't help but think in the back of my mind while watching the fight scenes that this was far-fetched, even for a movie.
At the same time, "Rocky Balboa" talks about many serious issues. It talks about Rocky, a Baby Boomer, coming face to face with his old age and his mortality. There is also a noticeable cultural battle in the movie. Rocky is very old school, obviously, while Dixon represents much of what today's culture is.
"Rocky Balboa" is one of the better sequels, and the best since "Rocky III." I wouldn't call it a knockout, but more of a good standing eight count. This movie is worth $10 and two hours of your time. As we learn from Balboa in this movie, heart really is the last thing to age.
Patrick Hyzy is a freshman at St. Joseph's Collegiate
Review: 3 stars (Out of 4)