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111 of 120 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 20, 2007
When it was revealed that there was going to be a Rocky VI, many naysayers groaned and complained that enough was enough and that Sly was too over the hill and couldn't pull it off. But the TRUE FANS out there knew differently. Even the critics, who initially made skeptical/negative comments about the sixth installment, started turning their stories around after viewing the film in its entirety. Rocky Balboa is a real winner of a movie, that fully realizes the essence of the original classic and brings the saga full circle to a thrilling, emotional, and very memorable conclusion.

Many years have gone by since last we saw Rocky, who is now a widower, estranged from his son and still mourning the loss of his beloved wife, Adrian. There are some truly touching moments of Rocky at the cemetery, sitting by her grave (when I saw the film in theaters, no one in the audience made a sound - even the rowdy ones - during these scenes, out of pure respect for the characters) as well as Rocky's journey, with Paulie, to all the places he took Adrian on their classic first date. So touching.

Now Rocky has his own restaurant, where he greets his customers and regales them with past stories of glory. But deep inside of him is a rage that he must get out of himself and conquer in order to move on with his life. The only way to do that is to go back in the ring. But when a computer simulated match between Rocky and the current reigning heavyweight champion of the world, Mason Dixon, is shown on TV, showing Rocky as the victor, word spreads like wildfire for the real thing.

No Rocky film is complete without a training montage, and this film's got it in spades. Stallone has the character of Rocky so integrated within himself, and gives nothing short of one of his finest performances on screen. Many memorable scenes, including Rocky's long and emotional talk with his son, as well as his new relationship with Marie (the young woman Rocky walked home back in the first installment) make for truly compelling drama. And the climactic fight at the finale is the icing on the cake. It's inspirational and never disappoints for a second.

Rocky Balboa belongs in the collection of every fan (and non-fan alike for that matter) and the DVD is loaded with wonderful bonus features, including Audio Commentary with Stallone, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, Alternate Ending, and more. Pick this film up and watch it again and again. You'll be happy you did.

Rocky Balboa - a fitting end to the Rocky Saga!

"But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward." - Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2007
After 16 years, Sylvester Stallone has accomplished what many figured would never happen. He came back with a new Rocky movie, and he came back with a really GOOD Rocky movie. Not only does Rocky still have punches in him, but so does Stallone. As a fan of the series, I can safely say that this is the best entry since the original. Quickly, the plot sees Rock running his own restaraunt, Adrian's, named after his deceased wife(Talia Shire is missed, but it works, and Shire herself says she trusts and believes in Sly with this twist in the story), and he doesn't have a strong relationship with his son(Milo Ventamiglia). A virtual reality boxing match on TV pitting him against Mason "The Line" Dixon(Antonio Carver)has Rocky defeating him, and setting up a real life match with Rocky coming out of retirement for one last match. It's an interesting premise, really, and it works. Some may think it takes too long to get going or to get to the action, but that's why it works. It's not just about action and boxing, but about the people and the character of Rocky. That's why I like it. I am just as interested, if not more, in the non-boxing aspects of the movie. The best thing about the Rocky films is that each one finds the Italian Stallion in a new part of his life and takes it from there. He's older now, and the film doesn't overlook it just for Rocky and Sly to have another shot at glory. It's about age. It's a big part of the film. That's one of the great things about the film. They are not overlooking reality and age just to make another film. I hear the same thing is being done for Indy 4. The flashback scenes are scarce(although others say otherwise), and the "tour" of the old haunts is nostalgic, affective, and well placed. This film feels like a Rocky film, and has a sense of the original film. Little Marie(Geraldine Hughes) is back, as well as Spider, and this leads to the film's closer touch to the classic original. Burt Young's Paulie is still Paulie, and it would seem out of place to have a Rocky movie without him. The movie is surprisingly real, emotional, and heartfelt. You can't help but get caught up in the situation and cheer Rock on one last time. The end match is great, and feels like the real deal. It's exceptionally planned out and set up, and makes the tension feel real as you watch it. Bill Conti's theme is back, and it still raises goosebumps when it starts up. Sly isn't the greatest actor, but he is Rocky, and he knows Rocky, and he is really good in the film, as well as behind the camera as a director. Rocky V had it's moments, but it was not the film to end on. This one is. It fits wonderfully, and it wraps it up perfectly. To see the love and respect Rocky gets from people, especially in the end, is heartwarming. It doesn't fail to bring a lump to your throat. To matter how old you get, or where your life takes you, Rocky Balboa tells you to never give up. Thanks for coming back with Rocky one more time Sly. You made a truly wonderful film for this iconic character and series to go out on.
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53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Everyone's favorite underdog is back in the game, as Sylvester Stallone brings back the character that made him a household name in the first place, with the sixth entry is the popular Rocky series "Rocky Balboa" (apparently, Roman numerals are no long in). Going into "Rocky Balboa" is like walking into a bad teenage comedy, as you go in with low expectations and more then a little cynicism. Yeah, sure, the original "Rocky" was critically acclaimed and won the Academy Award for Best Picture, but that was in 1976. This is 2006. That's about...a thirty year gap between the original movie and the current one. And Stallone is now sixty. Can he really pull off acting young anymore? The answer is no, so Stallone doesn't even try. Instead of pretending he's still 22, Stallone has Rocky retired at the age of 62, who is running a successful restaurant but has a strained relationship with his son ever since his wife died of causes that are not revealed in the film.

Then one of those computer simulators sets up a virtual fight with Rocky fighting the current heavy weight champion of the world Mason "The Line" Dixon. The computer deems Rocky would win in a fight, which gets Rocky into wondering what it would be like to get back into fighting. Rocky doesn't consider getting back in the ring for glory or fame, but more for the fact that he's somewhat stuck in time and wants the past back. Rocky constantly visits places he and Adrian used to visit, much to his brother-in-law's frustration. "You're problem is that you're living in the past. But I can't do that anymore," Pauli tells Rocky on the anniversary of Adrians death. For once, Pauli actually comes off as the wise one. Everything in Rocky's life is about the past. Rocky may own a restaurant (named Adrians appropriately enough), but Rocky doesn't actually manage the business or cook the food, he just dresses up in a nice suit and tells the costumers stories of his boxing career, taking a photo once in awhile.

His son loves his dad, but is frustrated that he passes through life based on the fact that he is the son of a former heavy weight champion. Even Rocky's friend Marie, the girl he walked home near the beginning of the first movie, is helped by Rocky mainly because Rocky can see the results of something good he did in the past. When the opportunity to fight Mason comes to Rocky's table, he accepts the fight because he wants to put the past behind him. In a phrase that will most likely become one of the most popular lines of dialog in history, Rocky tells his son "Life's not about how many punches you can throw at it, it's about how many times you can get hit and continue to punch back." When we finally get to the big fight, Rocky is once again an underdog. No longer young, looking a little frail, but with just enough determination that you can't help but hope he wins.

Yet the road will not be easy. "Rocky Balboa" delivers everything you expect a Rocky movie to have, from inspirational speeches, to a training montage, to spouts with minor characters. All of this we expect, yet it feels fresh and interesting. The characters have something to say to each other, and the storyline is very human and personal. I was amazed by how involved I got with these characters, considering that I haven't really spent any time with them in years, and all of them look completely different then when I last saw them. When Rocky first ran up those stairs and lifted his fists in the air, he was saying something to the world. Now he's saying something else, and it's just as inspiring as the last thing he had to say. By bringing Rocky down to our level, and dealing with the issue's we've all been joking about, Rocky becomes the underdog once again, and we're only happy to root for him some more. "Rocky Balboa" is one of the best films of the year.

Rating: **** and a half stars
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2007
Yes this is a review of the 6th and final installment in the Rocky saga. Rocky has been called the greatest underdog story of all time. It has been given two thumbs up by Elbert & Roeper; it has been given rave reviews and is currently 3rd in box office holiday season sales. With all of that, why would Imprint review this movie as well? The answer to that question is how the movie is relevant to students.

Rocky Balboa is called a truly inspirational story. It is the story of a man who has had it all, lost most of it and rebuilt what he could. The film was written, directed and starred in by Sylvester Stallone. But this story is older than even that. For Stallone wrote the first Rocky story and held on to it for years. He would not sell it because no one would let him star in it. With his perseverance and determination, he held onto the script until he could play the role of Rocky.

In this film, Rocky is again the underdog. He is 53, retired, and running a restaurant. He is also widowed, and looking for something more in life. He decides to try and fight again - he is thinking something local, for charity. And yet he is given a shot at the champ.

This is a story of overcoming - the story of living your hopes and dreams. It is about believing in yourself and following those dreams. Rocky states: "What is it you said to the kid? The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very rough, mean place... and no matter how tough you think you are, it'll always bring you to your knees and keep you there, permanently... if you let it. You or nobody ain't never gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit... it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward... how much you can take, and keep moving forward. If you know what you're worth, go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit." And he lives that in this film.

Yet Rocky is not the only character to face this adversity in this film. Paulie, his brother-in-law, who only has his work and alcohol is laid off from his job. Rocky's son Robert has lost his way, and is trying to not live in his father's shadow. And each of these three men must deal with their grief at the loss of Adrian, who was wife, sister and mother to these three men.

Rocky must also face his aging body. In the beginning of the training sequences he realizes that this will not be the simple battle of determination to get the body in shape. It will be in part mind over matter as he must reconquer and retrain his body to be that of a fighter.

Rocky's opponent Mason "The Line" Dixon (played by actual former heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver) does not take the fight seriously, he has the youthful disregard and disrespect for age and experience that Rocky will bring to the ring in this battle of athletes from different eras.

Rocky Balboa will motivate us to face our own challenges with perseverance and a community for support, and with hope and by prayer. The story will promote discussions about where we find our courage, what we want from life and how we can overcome loss and yet stand strong and remain faithful. It will also help us to classify what we call a victory.

Rocky is not just another boxing movie, or even just a sport movie, and it is definitely not just a squeal. It is a movie that will help you find the courage to follow your dreams and encourage you to pursue hopes.

So when the world knocks you down, you can either lay there or get up. That is what Rocky Balboa teaches us.

(First Published in Imprint 2007-01-05 as 'Final Rocky flick hits home, the heart'.)
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Rocky V was awful. I'm so glad Stallone wasn't satisfied with how he ended things. The new movie is the right bookend -- Stallone revisits the series' roots and finds the right tone.

Let me reveal my bias -- I loved the first movie. I watched it in theaters more than a dozen times. So let's not waste time with a real review. Let's talk nostalgia. "Rocky Balboa" ties back into every original subtext. Stallone reinforces his vision by recasting bit players like Pedro Lovell as Spider Rico (a great cameo).

The theme hasn't changed. Keep moving forward; don't quit. This time, Rocky is older and wiser. I loved the subtext of a wiser Rocky. I believed.

This is an emotionally satisfying movie. If you've followed the series, you've seen the ups and downs. This is the right way to end the series. Anything less would have been unfair to an original and compelling character.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2007
Sly did it right!

Sly's Character "Rocky Balboa" had a lasting effect on me as a kid. When you identifiy with a character on a personal level you suffer through their troubles as your own. When you feel that way about a character you don't want to see your hero dragged down or done cheap. This movie brings the whole saga to a fitting conclusion--Sly brought "The Rock" full circle! Sly- ya dun good!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Sometimes I love being wrong. Case in point: this film. When I first heard that Stallone intended to make it I actually laughed, and thought to myself "he's lost his bloody mind!" I then pictured some comical scenes of an old man pounding a younger one into the mat and regaining his belt, tearing what few strands of believability that are left in the Rocky legend to shreds.

I was very, very wrong. This movie is actually more realistic than any of the films, with the possible exception of the first. Set in the decaying city of Philadelphia, an older, widowed Rocky runs a small restaurant called "Adrian's." He is haunted by memories of his glorious past, and angry at how time and age have taken both his beloved wife and his fighting prowess.

At the same time we get a good look at the gentler side of the character, as he helps a struggling single mother and her son to survive, as well as others who have fallen on hard times, including an opponent from the first film, Spider Rico.

When the opportunity for the fight with the current champion comes along, there is no illusion that he will actually defeat the much younger man. He wishes only to go the distance, and so close the circle that began when he first fought Apollo Creed 30 years previous. Does he do it? I won't tell.

There are no villains in this film. Even his ring opponent is a noble person, an athlete/warrior who is disgusted by the lack of mettle in the current crop of fighters. He treats Rocky respectfully, albeit with a condescending "I'll go easy on you, pops" attitude.

Rocky's son and Paulie are returning characters as well. Paulie struggles with his own demons, especially his regrets over the way he once treated his sister. Rocky, Jr. appears as a young man living in his dad's very large shadow, as he seeks to carve out a career in the business world.

Most touching of all is Rocky's continuing devotion to his beloved Adrian. He visits her burial site often, bringing flowers, talking to her, or just sitting quietly beside the stone memorial in the cold and snow.

The ending is most satisfying, although I would have enjoyed more resolution regarding the struggles the characters were dealing with. Does this leave the door open for yet another sequel? I hope not. The film was a magnificent way to end an often far-fetched but beautifully touching story. Very highly recommended.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 18, 2007
One of the biggest surprises in recent cinema, "Rocky Balboa" recaptures the heart and spirit of the 1976 Oscar winner. The 16-year hiatus adds graceful poignancy to the aging Philly underdog - a quality lacking in the previous sequels. Sylvester Stallone delivers an affecting performance as the iconic boxer who defies skepticism by taking on the current heavyweight champion (Antonio Tarver) in a Vegas exhibition match. As writer-director, Stallone bounces back from the pitfalls of sequelitis by making a detailed character study that gives his famous creation a stirring finale. Against all odds, "Rocky Balboa" emerges as a minor triumph.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2007
When the lights came up on 1990's Rocky V, like most filmgoers, I thought that I'd seen the last of Rocky Balboa, the indomitable everyman who, through the course of five movies, took the heavyweight boxing title not once, but twice (and also singlehandedly won the Cold War). Certainly if you'd told me then that we'd get the chance to revisit this character nearly two decades on, I would've called you crazy.

And yet, like his cinematic alter-ego of thirty years, writer-director-star Sylvester Stallone apparently still had "some stuff left in the basement," and here we are sixteen years later, with Sly once more lacing up those padded gloves and stepping into the squared circle for one final ("We really mean it this time!") bout.

I guess that's why, for me, there was a bittersweetness to watching Rocky Balboa. The whole experience had the feeling of seeing a friend you never thought you'd meet again, knowing you have to say goodbye before too long. If that sounds a trifle maudlin, so be it. Nevertheless, with this character, the big-hearted fighter from South Philly, Stallone assured his own place in the annals of filmdom by creating one of the most indelible, enduring, iconic roles in movie history. So it's hard not to feel attached to the big lug.

In Rocky Balboa, the two-time former champ is at his lowest ebb personally. His beloved wife Adrian has passed away (from "the woman's cancer"), his son is a largely-infrequent presence in his life, and he mostly spends time at his semi-successful Italian restaurant regaling customers with tales of his former glory. This is a Rocky at the twilight of his career, largely pushed to the wayside by things shinier and newer. This is a Rocky who has become, in essence, the guest star of his own story. And yet...he still has something to offer (cue Bill Conti's "Gonna Fly Now").

The "Rocky" story is a timeless myth for the ages (yes, even the fourth one). More than that, the entire Rocky cinematic cycle, from 1976's original through the four sequels and now with Rocky Balboa, represents a singular achievement in movie lore: tracking the life and times of a single fictional character, essentially in real time, over the course of three decades. We've seen the highs, we've seen the lows, and now we're seeing him off.

Rocky Balboa is a fitting (and welcome) coda for a character with whom we all were able to go the distance.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2007
This is the best film I've seen in the theatre for a while! The fight scene at the end is really one of the least important scenes as this picture is more about emotions than fighting. This film is all about excellent dialogue, acting, writing, and directing. It's perfectly emotional and inspirational. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! I'd recommend at least watching Rocky I thru III first if you haven't seen them already, they are great films as well.
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