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:: Rocky Balboa

One could take a look at the film’s title and wonder what Sylvester Stallone is doing in regurgitating the Rocky character once more. The sceptics have been everywhere. They’ve been saying that no young person could possibly care about Rocky. Well, they are wrong. Stallone has pulled this film off beautifully.

The film brings the Rocky Balboa story up to 2006 and the fighting career of Rocky has long finished. His beloved wife Adrian has been dead for several years and you see the despair on his face as he visits the cemetery regularly. He has opened a restaurant called “Adrian’s” in Philadelphia. Rocky is a vulnerable person, wallowing in grief and not seeing as much of his son Rocky Jr (Milo Ventimiglia) as he’d like. His son seems too busy to see his father.

Rocky has a re-connection with Marie (Geraldine Hughes) from the first film. She was a young girl from the local neighbourhood. Now, she is a barmaid at the local pub and struggling to make ends meet. She allows Rocky to seek some meaning to life by befriending him.

The interesting aspect of this film is that it deals with flawed individuals and how they relate to each other. There is a good spread of sentimentality in Rocky and Marie’s efforts in seeking dignity and self-respect.

In terms of respect, the current world heavyweight champion is Mason Dixon (Antonio Tarver). He is struggling in his attempts to be judged a worthy champ because of unwillingness to fight legitimate opponents. As a result, his manager offers an unusual publicity stunt. After a television network runs a series of computer fights, pitting modern champs to older ones, one of which sees Rocky Balboa defeat Dixon, an exhibition match for charity becomes a big talking point, and Rocky takes up the cause. We see him return to the old training regime. For Rocky, it is about respect and giving everything he has. It’s about “going the distance” in life.

The training and fight scenes still stir the soul. The music is unforgettable and inspirational – one of the best scores in history. Stallone brings enormous energy and sentimentality into peeling us back thirty years to the memorable original Rocky film. He has stated that this is the end of the line for Rocky and has done himself proud with this terrific send-off.

Sometimes, in a cynical movie age we need to be touched by past glories. Stallone has brought us one of the most moving and affecting films of the year. Rocky is still one of the greatest movie heroes we’ve ever seen.