Rocky Balboa
Could you spare a dollar for an old man?

Theatrical Release Date: 12/20/2006
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Antonio Tarver, That guy whose acting career
is over since he can’t play Paulie anymore (Burt Young)

All good things must come to an end, and with this movie the 30-year journey of one of cinemas most enduring franchises comes to a close.

The movie opens with Rocky living in modestly in Philadelphia. We learn that Adrian is gone and that Rocky has become a man who is living in the past.

In one heart wrenching sequence, Rocky tours many of the same places we saw in the first film-many now vastly different or gone. In fact, that’s one of the things that makes this film so wonderful—Stallone allows us to take one last look around the place before we bid it adieu.

And in fact that’s what most of the film does – looks back on Rocky’s history while putting him in one last confrontation.

Shadows of the past films abound, from “Spider” Rico (the guy Rocky is boxing at the beginning of the very first movie) sitting in Rocky’s restaurant to seeing Rocky’s turtles “Cuff” and “Link” now fully grown, to Rocky draining a glass of raw eggs.

In fact, one of the main characters is from the first movie, Little Marie (Geraldine Hughes). Last time we saw here she was a teenager calling Rocky a “creepo”, now she’s all grown up. She and her son and take a special place in Rocky’s life as events move forward.

Throughout the film, we get the typical inspirational Rocky messages, but even though this is the sixth time we’ve gone through this, it isn’t old and it still puts some fire in your belly.

Little time is spent on the training aspect of the film, probably because Antonio Tarver’s Mason Dixon character isn’t written as a villain. He is written as Rocky was in “Rocky III”: a good-hearted but untested champion who has been fighting a lot of nobody’s simply so he can stay the champ.

He has never fought someone who might legitimately kick his ass. And with Rocky feeling that he has a few more fights left in him, you can see where this headed.

The performances were well done, and all the actors were well cast. Tarver does a good job as the arrogant Heavyweight champ, even though he doesn’t inspire the dread of an Ivan Drago or Clubber Lang.

And of course this is the character that Stallone was born to play, and he does a great job of presenting the heartbroken former champ. Even Milo Ventimiglia was well as cast and does a respectable job as Rocky’s son.

The final fight between Mason Dixon and Rocky Balboa is not presented in the same cinematic manner as Rocky’s previous bouts, where Rock would get beat up for 11 rounds, then KO his opponent in the final round.

It is instead presented as if you had ordered the fight on Pay-per-view … complete with Michael Buffer and the HBO ring announcers calling the action. The last few rounds are really stylized and I enjoyed the way the scene was cut with previous training scenes and the colors used. I am not going to reveal the ending, but it is classic Rocky, and you’ll leave the theater feeling good.

This isn’t exactly what I was expecting from this film, but I enjoyed it a lot. I am glad Sly came back to put the finishing touches on a franchise that has pretty much spanned my lifetime. Even though Rock didn’t chase a chicken in this one, I feel confident giving it a 4 out of 5. If you ever felt anything for the other movies, pick this one up.