Sylvester Stallone returns to the director's chair for Rocky Balboa, the fifth sequel to the film that made him a superstar 30 years before. The movie begins with Rocky (Stallone) still mourning the death of his loyal and beloved wife, Adrian, who died three years previously after losing a battle against cancer. Rocky owns an Italian restaurant and spends his days living in his working-class Philadelphia neighborhood, visiting with his customers, and telling stories about his past. His grown son has a job as a business professional, but the relationship between the two is strained. Rocky's growing dissatisfaction leads him to attempt to purge the feelings of frustration and loss by applying for a boxing license. When the current heavyweight champion, Mason "The Line" Dixon (Antonio Tarver), needs to rehabilitate his image as a pretty boy who has never shown any real heart in the ring, his manager offers Rocky an exhibition match. This comeback allows Rocky to get his own life back on track, while also offering him the opportunity to help those around him redeem themselves and once again be a symbol of hope for the common man. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi
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I fully expected this movie to blow when I first heard they were making it, especially after Rocky 5. I'm not sure if it's due to the fact that I had such low initial expectations but I have to say I think the movie was fairly solid.
It's difficult to conceive of a better ending for the saga of Rocky Balboa. Throughout the six-film series, few installments approached the creative and critical success of the original. Several sequels went so far as to become caricatures of the first film - featuring hyper-extended, overblown versions of many of the series' recurring themes. While "Rocky Balboa" includes some of these same elements, it is the first sequel to feel as if these elements were not included out of habit or other obligation, but instead out of a genuine respect for the intent that made them a recurring feature in the first place. Sylvester Stallone does take the occasional opportunity to preach the gospel of never giving up, but in this "final" installment, the words seem a bit less scripted and jingoistic. In fact, the film has an amazing ability to make you forget about the low points in the series and make you remember why you loved the story of Rocky Balboa in the first place.