Friday, December 22, 2006


Rocky Balboa

Blaring trumpets are the first harbingers of royalty afoot. A solo figure jets across the landscape, soaked in the sweat and tears of dedicated labor, his eyes deliberate and lips curled into a menacing sneer. The music slowly builds to crescendo. Enter an obstacle -- a staircase, perhaps -- that the figure surmounts with ease.

A glove-sheathed fist rises in triumph.

Let no audience member doubt: This is the Rocky universe.

A 30-year franchise filled with such consistent cornball stylization that you could catch any of the first five entries on cable and spend a few minutes figuring out which one it is, the Rocky movies boast one of the most endearing pop personalities this side of James Bond. Boxing stories were great before Sylvester Stallone created the lovable champ, but the series uniquely embodies the sport's main attractions: brutal competition and an endearing cult of personality. Rocky Balboa, written and directed by Stallone himself, needs no Roman numerals to enhance its clout; the title signals the completion of one mighty tardy character arc.

Read the rest of the review in The Reeler...


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