History repeats itself in Rocky's dull final chapter

Rocky Balboa

on December 20, 2006 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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It's hard to believe that it's been 30 years since Sylvester Stallone's Rocky first hit the screen. The character of The Italian Stallion, a Philly boxer and underdog who made it to the top through sheer determination and grit, struck a chord with audiences (and nabbed a Best Picture Oscar in the process) and we've been inundated with sequels to his story ever since. However, since not even the first film was any good, the law of diminished expectations never applied to the franchise.

Fortunately, the producers have promised that Rocky Balboa will be the final chapter in this tiresome, trite series. Let's hope they're not fibbing, because there's virtually nothing to recommend about the flick, which in effect recycles the story from the first film, wherein Rocky's goal was not to win but merely to prove that he still had what it took to go the distance.

Now in his fifties, and still reeling from the recent death of his beloved Adrian, Rocky, who manages a restaurant named after his late wife, is a lost soul, estranged from his resentful son (Milo Ventimiglia) and drifting too often into reveries of his happier past. When a simulated computer program determines that Rocky in his prime could knock out the current heavyweight champ Mason Dixon (Antonio Tarver), the stage is set for the two men to meet for real, in an “exhibition” match, with Rocky the popular, albeit not the pundits', favorite.

Never mind the far-fetched premise (no 50-something boxer would ever be allowed to fight a man half his age) or the dodgy racial politics (it's still disconcerting for the white guy to be the cinematic hero in a sport that in real life has long been dominated by black boxers) Rocky Balboa 's biggest sin is how ineptly Stallone has directed most of it and, even more damaging, how sappy and cliched his screenplay turns out to be. This is a tedious tale badly told. Distributor: MGM
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Burt Young, Milo Ventimiglia, Antonio Tarver and Geraldine Hughes
Director/Screenwriter: Sylvester Stallone
Producers: William Chartoff, Charles Winkler, David Winkler and Kevin King
Genre: Drama
Rating: PG for boxing violence and some language
Running time: 101 min.
Release date: December 22, 2006

Tags: MGM, Sylvester Stallone, Burt Young, Milo Ventimiglia, Antonio Tarver, Geraldine Hughes, William Chartoff, Charles Winkler, David Winkler, Kevin King, Drama, death, computer, heavyweight, champ
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