Rocky: The Final
starring Sylvester Stallone, Burt Young, Antonio Tarver, Geraldine Hughes, Milo Ventimiglia and Tony Burton
written and directed by Sylvester Stallone
Rocky movies are pretty bad. Stallone received high marks for his direction and screenplay of the original Rocky in 1976, but in all Rockies since then he was just a part player. This last film in the series is the most thoughtful of the bunch, reflecting Stallone’s age as well as that of the hero, Rocky Balboa, “The Italian Stallion”from Philadelphia. None of this means that I like this film or any of the series that came before it. It’s ridiculous. Stallone, who is in his 60s, is playing a Balboa in his 50s who re-trains for one last hurrah against the current Undisputed World Heavyweight boxing champion. He loses, but he loses much as he did to Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in the original Rocky - barely, and clearly the crowd’s champion. In each and every Rocky movie the beating taking place in the ring is more than enough to cause the judges and referees to cancel any real professional boxing match. I mean in real life no professional boxer would take the beatings that Rocky does - or be allowed to. But there is an interesting thing about watching this kind of action. Even though I know it is entirely unrealistic boxing, and even though I despise sports and am no fan of Rocky movies the boxing action still gets my male testosterone blood pumping. What is it about visual images that can get the viewer excited like that? Horror films scare us. Pornography arouses us. War films excite us, and thrilling action films rev us up even though we are not part of the action and we know it. Hmm.
Burt Young returns as Paulie, Rocky’s brother-in-law. Paulie has always been a despicable character. I never liked Burt Young because of it, which is unfair, but there it is.