Somewhere Mel Gibson and Danny Glover sit in awe.
Sylvester Stallone knew he had a lot to live up to by bringing back such an iconic character after 16 years, especially when the last outing was universally hated. But he more than pulls it off, putting in a heartfelt performance (along with the great Burt Young). Even as writer/director Stallone impressed me, with a character driven script that took its time to hit the needed emotional notes before the word “fight” was even mentioned, as well as some great visuals. (I don’t see how the final shot could be any more perfect.) Saying ROCKY BALBOA mirrors Stallone’s personal career might sound harsh, but it’s tough not to make that distinction. This isn’t a pointless sequel; like Rocky, Stallone is proving to us that he still has the goods.
My overt praise is not suggesting this is a perfect movie. The "romance" subplot is a bit awkward (a little too father-daughter for my taste) and I wasn’t a big fan of the editing in the final fight (although the fight itself is extremely well-choreographed). However, when punch comes to shove, ROCKY BALBOA got me pumped, lifted my ass off the seat and had me chanting. Is it overly sentimental and inspirational? Perhaps. But it still feels like an incredibly natural way to end the series. Consider yourself forgiven for ROCKY V, Mr. Stallone. (Not RHINESTONE though.)
Commentary by Sylvester Stallone: Not to be mean, but I was surprised how articulate and intelligent Stallone sounded here. It’s obviously a very personal story for him (there are even times where he says “I” instead of “Rocky” and vice versa) so he’s got plenty to say about the filming, why he brought the character back and even some inspirational stuff about life itself. If you’re a Rocky fan, you’ll enjoy this.
Deleted Scenes: There’s over twenty minutes worth of deleted stuff, including more training, more raw eggs and Rocky wearing a hair net. However, the major find is the alternate ending. I won’t give away the original ending, so I’ll just say that the opposite outcome occurs here.
Boxing’s Bloopers (1:31): The first couple times Stallone messed up and made a wisecrack, I thought for a split second, “The man has a good sense of humor. He should make a comedy.” Then I remembered STOP! OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT and soiled myself.
Skill vs Will: The Making of ROCKY BALBOA (17:47): A general behind the scenes feature centering on the casting and what it’s like shooting in Philadelphia, especially the famous museum steps scene.
Reality in the Ring: Filming Rocky’s Final Fight (15:37): A detailed look at the long road to creating a worthy ending fight for the series. You get a look at Stallone’s hardcore training regimen (the dude is ripped), the months of choreography practice, as well as explanations of how they filmed the fight itself. Both guys took all real hits and it shows. This is definitely the most realistic fight out of all six movies.
Virtual Champion: Creating the Computer Fight (5:08): Seeing Marion Cobretti with those little motion capture balls all over his body is well worth the price of this DVD.
Some Previews, including SPIDER-MAN 3.
Extra Tidbit: Sylvester Stallone’s famous sneer/slurred speech is actually due to paralysis in the left side of his face as a result of complications from birth.