Rocky Balboa is a career underdog. In one classic film and 4 not so classic sequels the Italian Stallion has battled the odds and some heavy hitters to emerge bloodied but unbowed. He never gives up and that temerity shaped him into one of the screen’s greatest characters. Whether battling a vicious six and a half foot Russian boxer in the ring or his own personal demons outside the squared circle, audiences always rooted for him.
The question remains will they still root for him 30 years after the original film won 3 Academy Awards and 16 years after he last stepped out of the ring? As unbelievable as it might sound Sylvestor Stallone is back once again as the title character in Rocky Balboa, the final chapter (so he says) in the Rocky saga. Just as the man himself might say, “Yo! It ain’t over till it’s over.”
The new film is to long by half an hour, takes too long to get going and has way too many speeches about “having heart” and believing in yourself, but despite those minuses it has one big plus.
One big 60-year-old lumbering, beefy plus—Stallone as Rocky.
There is something in his dimwitted, but well-intentioned presence that goes beyond nostalgic appeal. Stallone isn’t a versatile actor, but when he’s in the Rocky Zone it’s hard to deny his appeal.
Stallone, working both in front of, and behind the camera, pays homage to the past, working much of the original Rocky lore to the new film, but more importantly using the anthemic Bill Conti Gonna Fly Now music from the first Rocky. I defy you not to pump your fist in the air when Rocky runs up those library steps to the famous Dunna nah, dunna nah, dunna nah soundtrack.