Fame can often be a fleeting thing. For Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), his days of money and the limelight are behind him. In Rocky Balboa, Rocky spends his time managing his restaurant and sharing stories form the ring to customers who listen contentedly and take pictures with the former champ.
With his beloved wife Adrian deceased, and his son Rocky JR. (Milo Ventimiglia), distant, life has become lonely for Rocky as his only real company aside from his staff and customers is his brother in law Paulie (Burt Young).
A chance meeting with someone from his past whom Rocky used to call Little Marie (Geraldine Hughes), allows Rocky a chance to step out of his shell a bit, and he soon becomes friends with Marie and her son, though Rocky at times remembers Marie more as the little girl with the attitude from his youth rather than the grown mother she is now.
When ESPN runs a computer simulation pitting Rocky against the current champion Mason The Line Dixon (Antonio Tarver), where Rocky is declared the winner, it starts the wheels turning in both Rocky and Dixons heads.
Dixon is an unpopular champion as many question his heart and his ability to go the distance as he has not been pitted against anyone whom the boxing world considers a worthy challenge.
Rocky on the other hand starts to get the desire to go back in the ring and gets himself certified to box once again, with the desire to do a few small local fights.
Dixon through his representatives approach Rocky for an exhibition match and despite concerns about being embarrassed in the ring due to his age, and years away from boxing, accepts the challenge and begins to train anew with renewed vigor.
Of course this announcement is met with skepticism amongst the sporting world that see it as a move of desperation on the part of both fighters, and Rocky JR. for one things this is a very bad idea as does Paulie who cannot see anything good coming of the fight.
When the time comes to enter the ring against Dixon, Rocky must battle not only his opponent but time and his inner demons as he attempts to answer the questions he has about himself and his life, and show that he still has what it takes.
Stallone gives an emotional and solid performance as the aging Rocky who is attempting to answer the lingering doubts and questions he has about his life, and past while trying to stay relevant. The underscoring theme that Rocky must now deal with loss outside of the ring and that time is one opponent we cannot truly beat is central to the film, as is the notion that while things may change, staying true to oneself and the important things in life are what truly matter.
After a disappointing outing with Rocky V, Stallone has crafted a very solid and fitting finale for the Rocky series that stays true to the characters and gives fans of the series something to cheer for.
A solid film that is one of the best films of 06, do not miss Rocky Balboa.
4.5 stars out of 5.
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older
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The sixth installment of the Rocky series picks up the story of the Italian Stallion 16 years after the morose Rocky V. And sure, at his advanced age, Sylvester Stallone now looks like one of those sides of beef his character used to pound on. No matter. Somehow you buy the premise after all these years, even if it takes forever for Rocky Balboa to stop wallowing in self-pity (Adrian is dead, his old haunts are demolished) and get down to the business of drinking raw eggs and running up staircases. The business at hand is an unlikely exhibition fight with champion Mason Dixon (Antonio Tarver), which the near-sexagenarian Mr. Balboa has no business accepting. Of course, just as sure as the horns of Bill Conti's theme music are even now trumpeting through your head, the ol' Rock might have a punch or two left in him. Stallone wrote and directed, and there isn't much to say except that the movie steps in its pre-determined paces with a canny sense of what has come before (it's practically an homage to all the previous Rocky pictures, complete with fleeting flashbacks). Burt Young is around again, and Geraldine Hughes makes an appealing, rather chaste female companion for Rocky. Stallone's Rocky has gotten suspiciously articulate over the years, but he still knows how to slouch. If Stallone never forgets that, he can probably keep the franchise rolling. --Robert Horton