I went to see ROCKY BALBOA this past Saturday.

I’m a huge ROCKY fan. I grew into adult-hood going to see the ROCKY films in the theaters with the same enthusiasm and adoration that STAR WARS fans have for their favorite franchise. For a comic book fan who reveled in adolescent power fantasies on a weekly basis in his choice of reading material (comic books, of course), the ROCKY movies were a celluloid embodiment of those fantasies that substituted boxing for superheroes in spandex. I was already a boxing fan as well, having thrilled at the epic battles between Muhammad Ali and foes like Joe Frazier, George Forman and Ken Norton. So the ROCKY movies were a huge draw for me– and the colorful characters that populated the films like Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang, Ivan Drago– as well as Rocky’s trainer Mickey, his loving wife Adrian and her frustrating brother Paulie….. they were all terrific. Many people consider the franchise to be cheezy… but I think that’s because the movies became victims of their own success and became very over-the-top in their presentation by the time ROCKY IV hit. But at the core of the character, though every film, was a kind-hearted man who was trying his best to overcome incredible odds to reach personal goals and be the best he could be at his chosen profession– and as a person.

Like many ROCKY fans, I was very, very disappointed in the fifth installment of the film franchise. I thought that the fifth film had lost the heart of what made the previous movies so much fun and connected with me on a visceral level. That’s why I was so happy to hear that Sylvester Stallone was going to create another film– titled ROCKY BALBOA– that would put a cap on the ROCKY character…. that would end the franchise on a high note. And Stallone certainly accomplished that in my eyes. The original ROCKY film was an amazing accomplishment– it won 3 academy awards and had an terrific story with very powerful acting. ROCKY BALBOA hearkens back to that film in so many ways. The story is very touching. It’s filled with both sadness and humor– and the tale of a man who is trying to understand where he is in life as a long-retired boxer well past his prime. One of the things that always appealed to me about the ROCKY character is that he was on a journey– experiencing so many highs as well as lows in the various films. His was a character you could connect with during his many struggles. And ROCKY BALBOA is a wonderful look at a man much later in life, dealing with the loss of friends and loved ones, and coming to terms with his place in the world and in his own mind.

I’ve purposely not said much about the actual events in the movie, because I didn’t want to spoil anything for any of you who might want to see this film but haven’t had the chance yet. I can say, though, that it’s a great movie and a wonderful ending to a franchise that featured a character that has become a cultural icon of our society. The vignettes as the final credits roll in this last movie of ROCKY fans rejoicing at the top of the stairs in Philadelphia where Rock ended his training run in the first film are both humorous and very touching. ROCKY BALBOA is the end of a series of movies that have left an indelible imprint on our cultural zeitgeist. The images, the music, the dialogue…. as much as any other character in American cinema, ROCKY is larger than life– and yet so human to the core.

I’m so happy that Stallone made this movie.

Have a great weekend, all.

This is Entry 322.


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