A well put together DVD that tells you everything you could want to know about this film.
I wish there had a been a separate featurette with members of the boxing world talking about this franchise.
Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) has reached a crossroads in his life. He has lost his beloved wife Adrian (Talia Shire), his son Robert (Milo Ventimiglia) is trying to get out from his shadow, and Paulie (Burt Young) is angrier and crankier than ever. After a virtual boxing match deems Rocky the winner over current champion Mason "The Line" Dixon (Antonio Tarver), a buzz is created and suddenly Rocky has a chance to get back in the ring and fight Dixon in a 10 round exhibition match. After working things out with his son and getting Paulie back on track, Rocky and company head to the gym for one final time.
There were many people who laughed at the idea of Rocky Balboa. In fact, many people have called it "surprisingly good." Well, I can honestly say that I never doubted for a second what this movie would be. Regardless of what you think about the franchise, this is a movie that Sylvester Stallone knows intimately. He knew where he wanted to take it and even though there have been missteps along the way (I honestly think that Rocky II is much worse than Rocky V), there is something about this person turning back time (even if he didn't do it all the way) that really resonated with viewers.
Deleted Scenes and Alternate Ending
There are 8 of these in total on this disk. When I covered this movie for it's theatrical release Sylvester Stallone mentioned that there was some footage of Paulie that had been cut. Basically, he was having a nervous breakdown. While I was surprised at first to hear that, looking at this footage now I think it's a good idea that it was excised. This stuff was good but it would have ultimately taken too much away from this movie. As for the Alternate Ending, I don't want to give too much away but I will say that it's the best alternate ending I have ever watched. That said, I think the one in the film was the best choice.
My biggest complaint about this is that it's too short. We see actors blowing lines, Stallone asking a large crowd for more energy, and him and Antonio Tarver laughing as they lob punches at one another. Nothing too great here but if you are a megafan of this movie (which I am), you will certainly want to check this out.
Skill Vs. Will: The Making Of Rocky Balboa
Since I followed this movie both as a fan and for this website, this really didn't tell me anything about Rocky Balboa that I didn't already know. However, if you are not as ravenous a fan as I am then you will certainly find this insightful. We find out why Stallone had to make this movie, what some of the other actor's take on Rocky Balboa is, and basically this plays like an EPK introducing you to this world.
Reality In the Ring
I loved this because I thought the final fight in the film was such an important, well done piece of this series. Stallone talks about what he was going for, why he chose to shoot the fight like something you'd watch on Pay Per View, and how he went about staging the action. I think it's very interesting how loose this whole process was. Sure there were things in the fight that were scripted, but I think the reason why this feels so fluid is because Stallone and Antonio Tarver allowed themselves to engage in a spirited workout/mock sparring session.
Creating the Computer Fight
Techies should really love seeing how this segment of the film was created. We are taken into Blur Studio where they went through the process of motion capture, plaster face casting, digital face and body scan, etc.. I loved hearing that Antonio Tarver thought they only had to do things one time, and that Stallone had to coach him in the art of repetition. On top of that, I thought it was interesting seeing how the participants in this have to make every face imaginable so that the fight/game can be constructed with many options.
I enjoyed this and at times I felt like I was one of those characters in Rocky Balboa who got to sit back and hear the champ tell stories. Stallone has a way of talking that is very matter of fact, very up front, but at the same time very warm and engaging. While he talks a lot about this current installment of the franchise, he also goes back and forth as he references the other films. I liked hearing about his choice of colors, his use of foreshadowing, but most of all I felt like a fan who was just happy that someone he admires was allowed to go back and relive his glory again. I can only hope Sylvester Stallone makes more films that are personal to him.
Anamorphic Widescreen - 1.85:1. This DVD looked really good. Having seen it three times in a movie theater (and one of those times was in MGM's screening room so it probably won't get much better than that), I really like how this movie looked currently but it didn't employ so many postproduction effects that it got in the way of the story. Truthfully, this film didn't look nearly as big or feel is full as it did in the theater. However, the picture was crisp and Sony has done a fine job bringing out all the nuances from the big screen to the small one.
Dolby Digital. Mastered in High Definition. Languages: English, French 5.1. Subtitles: English, French and Spanish. Close Captioned. The audio on this movie was good and I guess that probably helps set the tone. I especially loved how Stallone used "Take You Back" by his brother to open this film. That song so succinctly sums up the Rocky experience that the minute you hear it you are taken back into the world of this film. Everything has been leveled really nicely on this DVD, and once again Sony is at the forefront of making DVDs that look and sound amazing.
They have taken the same poster that they used for this movie's release and simply transported it to this DVD cover. The back features some shots from this movie (including one that features Stallone in an awkward pose for a fighter), a description of this film, a cast list, and system specs. I guess I have two thoughts... the first is what am I going to do when they come out with the new six disc set and I still have my old five disc one? And, what am I going to do with this lone DVD in the meantime? Well, I guess these are questions for myself and the fans and probably ones Sony isn't really thinking about.
One thing I think this 102 minute film has is a great sense of it's mood. Watching through the deleted scenes, it seems that Stallone and Co. really knew when to cut. When they had gotten too superfluous and it was time to move on with this story. This movie never felt that they belabored points, and Stallone even talked about how he'd let some fights scenes go longer than they should have in other films. I also really applaud their decision to shoot the final fight as if it was something we were watching on Pay Per View. More than any other Rocky movie (and any other fight film I have ever seen) this really captured the mood and feel of today's fight game. It captured the look, the stylized presentation of the bouts, and even the way the judges score the fights.
So, it is with some sadness that I write what will probably be my final review of any movie in the Rocky franchise. Sure, he could maybe come back again but I don't think that he will. Sylvester Stallone exercised many demons with this film, not the least of which was pulling in $141 million in worldwide box office receipts.
Yo Sylvester, you did it.
Rocky Balboa was released December 20, 2006.