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Capone spars with ROCKY BALBOA and is knocked silly!

Hey, all. Capone in Chicago here. There may already be a few too many reviews and related articles on this site about this film, so allow me toss one more set of paragraphs praising this work. One of the greatest surprises at this or any other Butt-Numb-a-Thon was how much the closing chapter in the six-film Rocky series genuinely moved me and everyone in the room. There is nothing like the feeling you get having a couple hundred of your nearest and dearest chanting “Rocky! Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!” and meaning every word of it. It makes me feel very, very old to think that the first Rocky came out 30 years ago, but watching it again recently made me remember why there was a time when Sylvester Stallone was not an action hero or an icon; he was simply an actor born to write and play a character that was so incredibly close to his heart. It didn’t matter if Rocky won his first major fight against Apollo Creed; that wasn’t the point. He went the distance with the world telling him he could not. His fight wasn’t against a man but against a time and place that seemed always ready to push him down and refuse to let him rise up from his working-class roots. Rocky Balboa is the closest Stallone has gotten to capturing the spirit and purpose of the original film. He has written and directed this heartfelt effort, and he reminds us one more time in the guise of this aging, worn out man that we all have a little fight left in us. More than an opponent, the death of his wife Adrian has come close to defeating him as a man. He has opened an Italian restaurant in South Philadelphia and spends most nights there entertaining customers with his war stories, providing a living, breathing highlights reel of his fight career. It both sad and empowering to see him leading a fairly successful life and still get recognized everywhere he goes in the city. When ESPN (who must have co-produced this film for the amount of product placement they get here) runs a computer-simulated fight between Balboa and the current heavyweight champ Mason “The Line” Dixon (actual boxer Antonio Tarver) and Rocky wins, Dixon’s team sees dollars signs and a chance to legitimize their client in the eyes of boxing fans who think he’s only fighting guys that are guaranteed wins. Rocky almost doesn’t have a choice but to take the exhibition fight as he is swept up in the thrill of the moment. Many things are going on in his personnel life that might be helped if he takes this fight. An estranged relationship with his grown son (Milo Ventimiglia) seems at stake, as does a newly formed bond with a local bartender named Marie (newcomer Geraldine Hughes) and her would-be thug son. One senses that Rocky sees these relationships firming up and getting stronger if this fight happens, and why not? One of the most interesting things Stallone chooses to do with Rocky’s opponent is make him a somewhat decent guy. Dixon is not a super villain the way Mr. T or Dolph Lundgren were; he’s just a young man still more comfortable being selfish and safe than being a real fighter. These two men have a lot to learn from each other. I would be remiss if I didn't mention Burt Young’s perpetually cranky character Paulie, Rocky’s brother-in-law and constant grumpy companion. The fact that this man is still alive is cause for celebration. I will confess that the idea that Stallone is now eyeing a fourth Rambo movie does not thrill me. At least with Rocky Balboa, the stated intention was to retire the character with this film. Stallone is playing his age, and the film is essentially about an older man not giving up on life just because he is past his prime in his chosen profession. The climactic boxing match is exciting, but hardly unpredictable. And as much as I liked seeing Stallone throw a few punishing blows once again, I enjoyed the quieter story of Rocky in his twilight years more. Seeing Rambo in his twilight doesn’t hold quite the same appeal. Rocky Balboa reminds us that certain movie characters are legendary for a reason; they not only make us cheer for their wins (real or symbolic), they remind us that life is worth living. It may sound hokey, but at the end of this film, my first thought was, I hope I’m still able to do something that life affirming when I’m 60. Capone capone@aintitcoolmail.com



Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 20, 2006, 5:40 a.m. CST

    When I'm 60

    by zacdilone

    I plan on having a party at Chuck E. Cheese's.

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 6:03 a.m. CST

    Burt Young's best performance: Back to School.

    by CreasyBear

    "You guys got a problem?" "No." "You do now."

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 7:33 a.m. CST

    How Much Longer Do We Have to Hear the BNAT Anecdote?

    by tonagan

    Everyone was chanting "Rocky!" We know. Stop rubbing it in.

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 7:38 a.m. CST

    Rocky the Fifth

    by dude_gimme_tabs

    I still think Rocky V doesn't get any of the respect it deserves. After all this Stallone and Balboa talk I went home and dragged out the VHS of it last night, and I really enjoyed it. Go on, treat yourselves !

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 7:45 a.m. CST

    Damn you MCMLXXVI

    by Lance Rock

    .

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 7:45 a.m. CST

    Burt Young in Back to School

    by stlfilmwire

    Burt Young lifting that guy. Gosh, that kicked so much ass. :)

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 8:04 a.m. CST

    MCMLXXVI

    by brassai2003

    fuck off geek. This film was awesome and the TF trailer kicked ass. You're no longer revelant.

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 8:05 a.m. CST

    Today's The Big Day!

    by DarthStallion

    Now that we've heard what the AICN guys think, I'm looking forward to hearing what the "average fans" have to say about this movie today. Oh yeah, and "Damn You, Michael Bay" (I always wanted to do that).

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 8:05 a.m. CST

    I cant wait till I'm 60...

    by Judge Dredds Dirty Undies

    Computer games will be awesome then!

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 8:19 a.m. CST

    Three "thumbs up" reviews on AICN for the Slyster...

    by Uncapie

    ...one punch-drunk review from, Mirajeff. Damn! Uwe Boll must have hit him harder than we thought!

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 8:36 a.m. CST

    Rocky Balboa was fucking awesome

    by Cruel_Kingdom

    On its own merits, it was okay. But in terms of the Rocky movies, it is bettered only by the first Rocky movie. Adrian's death was brilliant in that it completely allowed Sly to take Rock back to his roots. This is a perfect Rocky sequel (and hopefully the last). Still can't buy that a 60 year old man (or, as the film perpetrates, a man "in his 50s") could fight Antonio Tarver and live, but what a fun movie. And I don't wanna hear shit about George Foreman. He was 42 when he won the belt, which is still a lifetime away from 60. But as a fantasy, this movie was terrific. The montage stuff in the fight scenes were particularly well done, I thought; the images of Mick and Adrian and also the black-and-white shots with the red blood set against them... Wow. The only part I found really truly shittily cheesy about the whole thing was the closing credit sequence where we see all these goofy average people running up the steps like Rocky...

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 9:42 a.m. CST

    Capone I agree totally...

    by cooterbrown

    Rocky is wonderfully iconic in a life affirming way. I can't wait to take my 10 year old tomorrow and introduce him to Rocky.

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 9:55 a.m. CST

    Back to School

    by Itchy

    Tragically under appreciated film. Every professor I had in undergrad was represented by the line "...and you don't know the first thing about Vonnegut !"

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 10:20 a.m. CST

    humble opinion

    by brassai2003

    For Darth: I agree with most of the posters here having caught a screening last night. It got a standing ovation and the only haters coming out of the film were fat fan boys who were muttering Damn you Michael Bay. There were some truly emotional moments in the film like the scene at the meat locker with Pauly and Pauly in the van headlights. I took issues with several point that the NYT reviewer was hounding on. Not all retired fighters are rich, despite owning a half-empty restaurant. I thought the script was pretty tight, despite the VERY end. The fight scenes were great, and Rocky looked his age. Listen to the audio track closely and you can hear Mason Dixon make a few comments about Rocky's hits. On the product placement thing....I almost walked out of the first Matrix because of the Nokia placement, having said that alt least in Rocky, pauly asks permission to get some endorsments. At least the products were WRITTEN into the script. It's Pro sport, c'mon! If you like the other films you'll love this one. I do give Stallone an IMMENSE amount of credit and respect for daring to do this. Burt Young proves to be the backbone of the series. Especially after his scene in the van lights. Don't listen to the haters and negative talk backers. This is a good solid film you can take your kids to see. You'll come out with a smile on your face.

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 10:21 a.m. CST

    Beneath the Sand !

    by dude_gimme_tabs

    Burt Youngs best performance ever was in Blood Beach. Search your hearts, you know it to be true !

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 10:25 a.m. CST

    In Rocky 7 I wanna see Rocky fight in the..

    by Borgnine JR

    ...Kumite with Bolo Yeung.

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 11:23 a.m. CST

    Dam you Michigan Bay

    by Immortal_Fish

    Dam you Michigan Bay

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 11:49 a.m. CST

    Running up the steps...

    by idahomer

    I believe it was inspired by the book "Rocky Stories," which documents all these people that come to Philly and reenact that scene. I haven't read it but it sounds interesting.

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 11:54 a.m. CST

    "I almost walked out of the first Matrix...

    by TELF

    ...because of the Nokia placement." Err, no you didn't. Anyway, to respond to Capone, I think Rambo 4 could be fine if he does a kind of Unforgiven style deconstruction of all the excesses of the previous 2. Much the same as what he seems to have accomplished with Balboa...

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 12:55 p.m. CST

    goofy average people running up the steps like Rocky

    by eric haislar

    That happens all the time! That was not just thrown in there because they thought it would be cute. People really do run up and down the stairs. and its all because of the italian stallion.

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 1:20 p.m. CST

    Rocky should've fought Captain Panaka!!!

    by BNITT

    Rocky should've fought Captain Panaka in this one!!! He would've knocked his cynical ass to the moon and given him another ridiculous eye patch!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 2:01 p.m. CST

    AICN brought to you by Rocky.

    by brycemonkey

    Seriously, WTF? Stallone is washed up and his movies irrelevant. But apprently because he sucked off Harry he now owns the site. True story.

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 2:04 p.m. CST

    I don't want to be "THAT" guy, but...

    by Gwai Lo

    The amount of typos and bad english in that review is ridiculous. "Dixon’s team sees dollars signs", "Many things are going on in his personnel life that might be helped if he takes this fight.", etc. There are plenty of awkwardly worded sentences too. Not that I care, I just wanted to point this out before the rest of you chucklefucks.

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 3:16 p.m. CST

    anyone read

    by Bloo

    the AP's review of Rocky Balboa? That was a steaming pile of crap you want to point out errors and someone not just getting it, go to Yahoo or the AP's site adn read it...haters you'll enjoy

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 4:42 p.m. CST

    If Stallone had stayed true to the character...

    by Childe Roland

    ...Rambo never would've had any twilight years. He would've offed himself in a VA psych ward some time after teh end of First Blood. Or he'd be heavily medicated, bearded and married to some chick with a couple of her own kids who like to pop balloons behind his chair to see if they can bring on a flashback. Rambo was an amazing character because he was so thoroughly doomed. He might've had a chance at a normal life if he'd managed to make one human connection in the first film, but the minute they pushed him too far, that was it. He probably should've died at the end of First Blood and received the hero's burial he deserved...a bittersweet ending but far better than the bullshit parade of sequels and their imitators that we've endured since.

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 5:05 p.m. CST

    Childe..

    by Staldo

    I'm with you concerning Rambo. It almost seems like the Rambo sequels are wish-fulfillment fantasies he dreams up when he's in military prison or a psych ward or something. That's the way I watch them. I just watched Rocky Balboa, and one thing Stallone is good at that he doesn't get credit for is crying(he did it in First Blood to great effect). That man has one of the most convincing man-cries I've ever heard.

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 5:43 p.m. CST

    Paulie rocked.

    by CherryValance

    I also enjoyed how split his world is. I don't know if most people really notice that in real life. But there is a huge gulf between the life his kid was living and the normal world where family and going the distance still count for something. I think that's why real people's lives and the way media portrays life are so different. Because the media are living that "fake" life and don't realize that the rest of us aren't. I was surprised that that angle was in the film.

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 6:23 p.m. CST

    The movie was just okay.

    by Batutta

    Too many speeches, and the fight was poorly filmed (I don't go to the movies to see something I can see on ESPN). The quiet, melancholy stuff really was really effective, but on the whole I'd rank it somewhere between III and IV, with I and II on top and V way at the bottom.

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 7:33 p.m. CST

    No split decision here

    by ewokstew

    Saw it today. Very, very well done movie. It's kind of funny, looking back on Rocky III and IV, which I thought were pretty good flicks, Rocky Balboa has a maturity and integrity to it that make those films almost ridiculous in their execution by comparison. Sly has indeed matured as a filmmaker by leaps and bounds. Kudos. I'm going back for a second round later this week.

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 8:08 p.m. CST

    Many things are going on in his personnel life ...

    by fenario80

    Yes, it's important to hire the right people ... Sorry, couldn't resist; but seriously this is just one more terrific review for this movie, the Big Surprise of 2006. You've all got me looking forward to it so I hope it ain't all hype!

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 8:19 p.m. CST

    Saw it today

    by Evil_Imp

    Absolutely loved it . I felt 13 years old again and i put it right up there with #1 and #2 , Rocky goes out on top. Highly recommended

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 9:40 p.m. CST

    Rocky was sold out tonight

    by DARTH VOODOO

    I don't think I have seen a more pumped up audience in 20 years. Everyone seemed to love it. Great movie.

  • Dec. 20, 2006, 10:25 p.m. CST

    Rocky Balboa is the best franchise sequel.

    by darthbinks1220

    Like Capone said, humanizing Mason was key. A Clubber or Drago would have trivialized the message Stallone intended. This film is classy, and understated. A real gem. I'm really curious to see the box office returns.

  • Dec. 21, 2006, 12:03 a.m. CST

    Saw the Vegas premiere with Stallone last night...

    by jpanimator

    Hi. I haven't seen anyone else write in about this so I thought I'd share: I was lucky enough to see the Vegas premiere last night at the Palms theater with Rocky himself, along with a guest list that read like the who's who of boxing fame - 75% percent of the theater was reserved for Sly's guests, most sports related (although Prince and David Hasseloff were in attendance as well as Miss America 2006). He got up in front of the audience and thanked us all for being there, and that most of the boxer's past and present in the audience should be able to relate to the film, because they still had "that stuff in the basement" (you'll understand once you've seen the movie).. and that this was his 'love letter' back to his fans...(?) Nothing like seeing Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini jumping up during the training scene and yelling "Rocky, Rocky' along with the packed house.. pretty damn cool, if you ask me. Being involved in film and tv myself, it is a pretty nice thing to see Stallone come out on top, at least as far as the Rocky franchise is concerned - he had a chance to sell his film back in the beginning and not star in it, but he made the tough choice, and did the same with this film, and his love for the character shows. He wrote, directed and starred in his own film - and that takes a lot of guts, especially after such a long (and not always illustrious) career. At the after party at Aladdin/Planet Hollywood most of the stars of the film (Tarver, etc.) had nothing but praise for him. Stallone is VERY proud of this effort, and it shows - even if you didn't like anything after the original Rocky film, check out Rocky Balboa - if nothing else it's a nice bookend to a great underdog character. Thanks for listening. JPANIMATOR

  • Dec. 21, 2006, 12:23 a.m. CST

    A Pleasent closure in the Rocky Franchise.

    by The Founder

    Just got back from seeing it and while i had a couple of problems the movie was pleasing. I can't say it was great but it wasn't a let down. I did expect more but i think the faults could've been ironed with perhaps a rewrite from a talented screenwriter. Old Sly did his best and captured the feel of the first rocky films. He channeld the character perfectly but the problems I had was the movie dragged at some parts anbd you think "Why is this scene in here". I was pleased with the final Rocky.

  • Dec. 21, 2006, 6:13 a.m. CST

    Loved it!

    by Trazadone

    Saw it last night and it was everything I hoped for; well done Mr. Stalone.

  • Dec. 21, 2006, 8:31 a.m. CST

    cookylamoo" So it's Like Return of the Jedi?

    by brycemonkey

    :-P

  • Dec. 21, 2006, 8:34 a.m. CST

    Except in reverse

    by brycemonkey

    ... or something?