This Film is NOT a Future Release.
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February 21st, 2006:
Seriously aged and long retired from boxing, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone
) has moved on to his modest restaurant business. Feeling withdrawn after the death of his wife Adrian, he spends his days in familiar Philadelphia grounds, remembering the good ol’ days and dispensing his quiet wisdom to anyone who is willing to listen. Unable to get attention from his busy entrepreneur son (Milo Ventimiglia
), his loneliness leads him to an encounter and eventual relationship with Marie (Geraldine Hughes
), a local girl he once knew prior to his glory days. The former heavyweight champ even befriends her troubled son. However, Rocky’s financial problems eventually lead him back into the ring for a few profitable small-scale boxing matches. This instantly catches the attention of Mason “The Line” Dixon (Antonio Tarver
), the current heavyweight champ, whose talent is overshadowed by constant media criticism of his behavior. With his skill in question due to a serious lack of challenging opponents, he decides on an exhibition match with the legendary Rocky Balboa. With Dixon seeking positive recognition from fans and Rocky looking for a redemptive comeback, the fight promises to be quite entertaining.What to Expect:
What is the 60-year-old Sylvester Stallone thinking? Ever since the rumors about this production began, I’ve done nothing, but cringe at the mere mention of another Rocky sequel. Stallone’s superstardom has been dwindling away steadily over the past ten years and is nearly finished at this point. With the exception of his campy role in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, his past few releases like Avenging Angelo and D-Tox, have basically been straight to video duds. In fact, you’d have to go back nearly ten years to find Stallone’s last significant film, Cop Land. The engaging Scorsese –like thriller featured an uncharacteristically overweight and subdued Stallone who impressed critics with his performance. However, even that film was publicized as a minor comeback for Stallone, who had been in a slump with catastrophes like Daylight, Judge Dredd, and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot released in the few years prior. No other major Hollywood action star has such a large percentage of failures among his credits, with the exception of maybe Jean-Claude Van Damme (and where is he now?). Consequently, Stallone has been on a desperate campaign to recapture the spotlight, with quite unspectacular results. His reality show, “The Contender,” was cancelled after just one season and he’s been reduced to a few guest spots on the show “Las Vegas” (so has Van Damme, by the way). Desperate times call for desperate measures, I suppose, because Stallone now has three major projects in the works (at this point, really major, for him). He is to star in Rambo IV
, he is writing and directing the biographical Poe (about the celebrated author Edgar Allan Poe), and he is writing, directing, and starring in Rocky Balboa. The details of Rambo IV and Poe are still being worked out so it is questionable whether they will actually see the light of day, but Rocky Balboa is now very much a reality. Article continues below
The original Rocky, written by Stallone, earned him Oscar Nominations for Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay. The film went on to win for Best Picture and Best Director and is undoubtedly a masterpiece in the sports film genre. It’s even more impressive considering Stallone’s career path since those promising beginnings. The Rocky pictures that followed, have all been progressively worse, culminating with the sloppy and nearly unwatchable Rocky V, which was supposed to be the final film in the series. Only Rocky III, which featured the memorable villain Clubber Lang, played by Mr. T., momentarily injected some life into the franchise with a fun, over-the-top approach. Since Rocky V already focused on a similarly cheesy plot, there’s really not much territory left for Rocky Balboa to cover. The only other franchises that have reached six or more films are the typical horror fare like the Frankenstein, Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th
series. I’m not sure what that says about Stallone or Rocky since the main characters in those films were monsters, which had to endure a series of deaths and rebirths in order to make it through so many sequels. Needless to say, plausibility is going to be an issue in Rocky Balboa.
Perhaps the biggest problem with Rocky Balboa is the cliché-ridden script, which appears to contain a number of cheesy and formulaic elements. Of course, the entire structure is a set up for yet another comeback by its main hero. At 60, Stallone looks like he’s in pretty good shape and out of all the major professional sports, an old dog can actually pull off the big upset in boxing (see George Foreman). However, 60 may be pushing it for Stallone, although I doubt the film will accurately represent his age. By portraying him as a lonely widower, who’s starting a new relationship with a single mother, the script really starts to develop weak spots. Talia Shire, who played Rocky’s wife Adrian in the first five movies, is scheduled to make an appearance in Rocky Balboa, which would imply either flashbacks or Rocky seeing ghosts. I certainly hope it’s not the latter, but the former does not inspire confidence in the movie either. Add to the mix a son who has no time for his father and Rocky’s subsequent bond with his girlfriend’s shy kid, and you’ve got a recipe for a melodramatic picture.
I’ve read the first few pages of the screenplay and they are not overly promising. The general consensus seems to be that Rocky spends most of his time strolling down memory lane and providing anecdotes to anyone with an open ear. The treatment is supposed to be fairly pleasant as a whole and a nostalgic piece might not be all that bad, but I still see it as highly problematic. Both major and minor characters from the past films are supposed to make appearances. Even Mr. T is expected to make a cameo. Therefore Rocky Balboa may be a more fitting ending to the series than Rocky V, but that still leaves a lot to be desired. And what’s with the name Mason Dixon? Why not just name him Mountain “The Mount” Rushmore or “The Titanic” for that matter. You can add that to the long list of eye-rolling things about Rocky Balboa. Antonio Tarver, the real-life light heavyweight champion, will play Mason Dixon so you can expect a pretty wooden villain. In fact, since Stallone is the only major actor in this movie, he’ll have to carry this material on his own and that’s not a good sign.In Conclusion:
Presently, Stallone’s career can only be saved by an outside source. He needs a talented director to offer him the right part in the right film. With Stallone writing, directing, and starring in Rocky Balboa, I would be surprised if he were able to overturn years of disappointing projects with this turkey. I expect tons of melodrama, a predictable storyline, and unpolished performances from the cast. There’s signs that some of the material is heading toward laughable territory, which is certainly something Stallone needs to avoid. I think the whole Mason Dixon Line idea already exhibits more cheesiness then can be safely allotted in one movie. Furthermore, as a February release, Rocky Balboa is being treated like a low profile production so it’s unlikely that it will blow audiences away. On the plus side, it has been sixteen years since the last Rocky film and some time off might give Stallone a fresher perspective. I do think it might result in a superior sequel to Rocky V and it should perform slightly better at the box office than other Stallone features of the past ten years.
Although the release date for Rocky Balboa has been changed from
February to December, we still stand by our predictions.Similar Titles: Rocky V
, Over the Top