Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Done In 60 Seconds Competition 2015
Guide To Marvel's Infinity War
The Making Of The West Wing
Get 12 Issues For Only £25 Today
The perfect gift this Christmas
London Film Festival 2014
Our round-up of the galas, films and interviews
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
Click poster to enlarge
More posters to select

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Sylvester Stallone
Milo Ventimiglia
Burt Young
Geraldine Hughes.
Directors
Sylvester Stallone.
Screenwriters
Sylvester Stallone.
Running Time
102 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Concerning Violence
4 Star Empire Rating
Stations Of The Cross
3 Star Empire Rating
Horrible Bosses 2
3 Star Empire Rating
My Old Lady
2 Star Empire Rating
Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
3 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Leviathan
5 Star Empire Rating
Le Jour Se Lève
5 Star Empire Rating
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating
Nightcrawler
5 Star Empire Rating
Babadook, The
5 Star Empire Rating

Rocky Balboa
Brilliantly awful 6th in the series...


submit to reddit


Plot
Mourning the death of his wife and running a restaurant that trades on his boxing glory days, Rocky Balboa (Stallone) ekes out a quiet existence. But when a TV show uses computer gizmology to match the Italian Stallion against the current champ, Balboa once again finds the will to fight.


Review
Rocky Balboa
Browse more images »

Rocky Balboa, The Sixth entry in Sylvester Stallone’s ring cycle, pulls off the unique cinematic feat of being totally terrible and completely brilliant at the same time. Thirty years after he first appeared (and 16 since Rocky V), Rocky Balboa, both the character and the film, remains simple, sentimental and cocksure. There have been no Casino Royale-style re-inventions here but, in some senses, this is equally smart. Completely understanding the level on which the movie needs to work, Rocky Balboa is bold, broad and magnificently big-hearted. Stallone slyly ties the fictional story — a man trying to reclaim former glories the only way he knows how — with the audience goodwill toward the meta-story — a filmmaker trying to reclaim former glories the only way he knows how — and recaptures enough of the original’s gritty urban feel, big emotional moments and triumph-of-the-underdog shenanigans to offset the clunkiness of the execution.
 
By any usual critical yardsticks, this is trite stuff. Much of the movie sees Rocky giving big, overwritten speeches full of hackneyed homilies to the underwritten characters who circumnavigate his life. Scenes that see Rocky mooning over his late wife or trying to reconnect with his estranged son are written and staged with the subtlety and nuance of a fence post. Even worse, Stallone — to mix our sporting metaphors — drops the ball on Rocky’s motivation for returning to the ring. There’s some guff about “the monster building up inside”, but the actual reasoning is fuzzy and mystifying.
 
Yet what saves Rocky Balboa is a commodity rare in movies these days: affection. Stallone clearly loves this character and knows that we feel the same way. As a director, he is not afraid to commit to the material, however clichéd things get, confident that we’ll warm to Rocky’s plight. Sensibly, after the excesses of Rockys III-V, he’s also dialled it all back, approximating the realistic milieu of the first flick. As an actor he has an innate dignity and hangdog charm that can make the corniest dialogue palatable, and lends the portrait of a man trying to come to terms with his changing world a tangible emotional weight.
 
Bizarrely, it resembles Back To The Future Part II (without the twisty-turny time-travel stuff) in that it almost overlays the sequel on the original. From Bill Conti’s fanfare over the opening credits, to Rocky’s pet turtles, to his tentative relationship with a grown-up “little Marie”, to Rocky and Paulie’s tour of the key locations from the first flick, Stallone neatly evinces a nexus of recognition, warmth and nostalgia. If you’ve been raised on Rocky, the mere sight of a training montage, all punching cold slabs of meat and running up steps, will leave you giddy with excitement. And the final showdown against Mason Dixon (Antonio Tarver), with its full-blooded, hyper-real, toe-to-toe pugilism, is up there with the Apollo Creed/Clubber Lang fight nights of old. You’ll spot the outcome a mile off, but as always with Rocky, what matters is the journey.


Verdict
If you hear the Rocky theme and think ‘118 118’, you might wonder what all the fuss is about. For the rest of us, this is a reminder of why we fell in love with the character in the first place.


Reviewed by Ian Freer


Related Reviews
Sounds
Rocky Balboa: The Best Of Rocky
 

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Rocky Balboa
Empire Star Rating

Rocky Balboa

Certainly a better and more fitting send-off for the character than Rocky V. Really charming film that - as Rocky is doing with his restaurant business - obviously trades on your love for the previous films, but it doesn't matter. What matters is that this film works. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jncorbett at 01:29, 31 October 2010 | Report This Post


Good

Good movie ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by shady_88 at 14:48, 15 August 2010 | Report This Post


Superb!

“It ain’t over, till it’s over!” and now it finally is! The Rocky saga is now complete! And it its capped off by a film that has so much heart that you feel every beat as it plays out in front of you! Yes this movie is cheesy, yes it has a tad improbable story line, but really, who cares?! This is Rocky, Rocky at his heart tugging best!! What Sylvester Stallone has managed to achieve with this movie is finish the journey of his creation, Rocky ‘the Italian Stall... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by sagent33 at 07:47, 02 June 2009 | Report This Post


The sendoff the Rocky (and the fans) deserved.

This film is fantastic return to form for one of the most iconic movie characters of all time. Whilst Rocky V took a bold step in removing Balboa from the ring and sending him back to his roots, it felt like a punch in the gut for fans Rocky's insprirational ragst to riches story. This movie gives Rocky the send off we all wished for, and with the exeption of two overlong speeches (The one in front of the boxing panel and the one to Rocky Jr) the film supplies an approropriate level of sentiment... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tdw2782 at 23:05, 22 December 2008 | Report This Post


Loved It...

Rocky Rocky II Rocky Balboa Rocky III Rocky V Rocky IV That's the order I rate Rocky. Rocky is one of the greatest series of movies along with Godfather and Star Wars. I'd rate this 3.75 if possible.. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ozalcin at 21:02, 10 December 2008 | Report This Post


Sylvester Stallone gives his best performace since "Copland" and reminds us all how good a "Rocky" movie can be. A film with real emotion and real heart, The perfect ending for the character. I hope he does'nt make another one and spoil this great film. Good Job :) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by PaulJohn at 23:20, 02 August 2008 | Report This Post


The film was excellent, the characters are brilliant and Rocky's simple life to nearly winning against the world heavyweight is inspiring. If he had won at the end I would take a star back ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Zinatam at 16:33, 07 July 2008 | Report This Post


Gonna fly now

awesome ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by epdug at 12:34, 06 May 2008 | Report This Post


Rocky Balboa

A breathtaking finale for one of cinema's best loved sagas and a fantastic final round for one of the worlds best loved characters. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ethan Hunt at 16:38, 29 February 2008 | Report This Post


Apart from the first its the best in the series, Sly really tried make this character go out with one hell of a punch, and as far as I'm concerned he suceeded, plus because its called Rocky Balboa instead of Rock VI, you can pretend the fifth one never happend! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dgribble at 20:18, 22 February 2008 | Report This Post


Balboa - Gracefully Bowing Out

Rocky 5 was rubbish. Not a dignified exit for a character who first hit the big time in the late 70's. A pale, and poorly executed, imitation of one of the greatest sports movies of all time. So Stallone's decision to reinvent his hero as a washed out, over the hill has-been, wasn't a bad move. The resulting film wears it's big heart on it's sleeve and, against the odds, pulls off a fitting finale for old Rocky. The script is sentimental and occasionally a little fuzzy but, once the training s... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chris welch at 13:38, 01 August 2007 | Report This Post


Bit of a trip down memory lane, and a very enjoyable one at that! A fitting addition to one of the most inspirational movies ever made! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jonnypatterson at 23:15, 12 July 2007 | Report This Post


Fantastic!

Stallone successfully re-captures the essence of the first Rocky film in this heartfelt, crowd-pleasing goodbye to one of cinema's most memorable sporting icons. Brilliant! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jim Bob at 12:04, 28 May 2007 | Report This Post


the hard hitter

Its hartbreaking ina way, Rocky's looking back on everything he's done and acomplyshed, and dispite his old age has the hunger to get back in the ring to proove he's still got it. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by elimonator at 23:23, 15 May 2007 | Report This Post


Emotional

Rocky Balboa - what a character. This film delivers the perfect round off to a hit and miss franchise. Nostalgic tear-jerking moments throughout with a brilliant score and an awesome performance from all those involved. It would have been a shame to leave it on the low that was Rocky V and i am so glad Rocky came back for one last hurrah. Role on John Rambo. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ross_thomson2000 at 07:41, 15 May 2007 | Report This Post


Whats new?

This is bassically rocky 2 through 4 with a bit of 5 in it (that sucked too right?) The typical 'everyones againts him' characters who have their heart warmed and are convinced by rocky's charasmatic charm is the most far fectched thing in the film forget the 60 year old boxer. Also is it just me or is apollo's trainer a bit of a bitch? He's probably not seen rocky since the drago fight, probably wasn't even invited to adrians funeral, now all of a sudden he appears at the drop of a hat to help ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Kevmiester at 21:46, 03 May 2007 | Report This Post


Stallone has pulled it off, a great film and the best Rocky film since the original, Stallone also deilevers his best perfomance since Cop Land. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Naweed_1 at 19:53, 30 March 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Rocky Returns

I saw the movie for the first time last night.  I can't be bothered to go into a whole lot of detail about the movie but all I've really got to say is that I really enjoyed it.  Very emotional.  Very enjoyable. ... More

Posted by mlavagna at 06:13, 20 March 2007 | Report This Post


Rocky Returns

With Rocky Balboa, I have to admit I was preparing myself for a terrible film, only made to give Sylvester Stallone one last chance to clutter the screen with his huge (and now wrinkling) muscles and terrible mumbling of lines. The ridiculous plot only added to my fears, Rocky now retired, hears of a computer simulation that pits him against the reigning undefeated heavyweight champion Mason 'The Line' Dixon. Rocky decides to ditch his Zimmer frame and make the fight a reality in an exhibitio... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Paul on Empire at 17:56, 22 February 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Rocky Balboa

I dont think ive ever been so confused in my life. Noted, I shouldnt have gone to see the film considering I hadnt seen any of the other 5 or whatever but still I believe it really could have been edited down to a half hour. I liked the fight though. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ednamode at 23:08, 21 February 2007 | Report This Post


Rocky Balboa

Absolutely entertaining but awful acting and the script sucks. But a good movie overall even though when 'rocky' talks you just think WHAT! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rockerjo at 17:47, 11 February 2007 | Report This Post


Rocky Balboa

Absolutely entertaining but awful acting and the script sucks. But a good movie overall even though when 'rocky' talks you just think WHAT! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rockerjo at 17:47, 11 February 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Rocky Balboa

OOps, I'd meant to quote you Dale, not just put a big chunk of what you'd said and leave it there... I can see why you'd think it might not appeal to cinema-goers who hadn't seen the first 5 but I'd only seen about half an hour of the first one and I still loved it. I think although much of it seems to hinge on past glories the films heart really came out in the scenes with his son, showing what it's like to live with a legacy that impinges on others and what effect the past had on Ro... More

Posted by Taizy at 17:13, 10 February 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Rocky Balboa

o anybody new to Rocky, the film must stink. However, this is not a film for them, it's for those who have grow up with Rocky (as acknowledged in the closing credits). No, it isn't Raging Bull. But credibility went out of the window a long time ago. If you have a great fondness for the other films, then this nostalgia fest is well worthwhile, and it nicely bookends the series. ... More

Posted by Taizy at 17:08, 10 February 2007 | Report This Post


Rocky Balboa

this really is a poor film. I think its ridiculous that Rocky wants to get back into boxing beacuse of a simulated fight. The ending fight with Dixon is rather dissapointing. However what i did like about it was in the fight with Dixon it goes black and white but the blood is still red so you can see the cuts on their faces. Spoiler!! Rocky looses his final fight that was good. Its also really let down by bad acting and a poor script. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by solid snake at 14:40, 10 February 2007 | Report This Post


More user comments

SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 48% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Empire's Farewell To Middle-Earth Issue:
Guest -Edited By Peter Jackson

The countdown to Empire's stunning new issue begins here...

Josh Hutcherson On The Hunger Games Phenomenon
'I've done my fair share of young adult material now'

What Is A Squidward? A Beginner's Guide To SpongeBob SquarePants
If you aren’t already a massive fan, prepare to become one

Classic Feature: Gods Among Us - Robert De Niro
The heavyweight champion of character immersion, explosive rage and jawdropping subtleties

Empire Meets Thelma Schoonmaker
On editing Scorsese, GoodFellas and a life in film

5 Possible Captain America: Civil War Roles For Daniel Brühl
Failing a Red Skull return, here are some Marvel villains the actor could play...

Kit Harington On How To Train Your Dragon 2
As the sequel hits home entertainment, we talk to the Game Of Thrones star

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)