Rocky Balboa Sylvester Stallone

Paulie: "What, you haven’t peaked yet?” Rocky: "There’s still some stuff in the basement.” And, yeah, he did peak a long time ago. Living out his golden years as a modest restauranteur, Rocky is full of longing: for his deceased wife Adrienne, for his estranged son (Heros’ Milo Ventimiglia) and for the glory of the ring. He’s still more or less supporting best-friend Paulie (Burt Young) and even finds an ambiguous love interest in Marie (Geraldine Hughes), the young girl he walked home in the original film, in what is a nice narrative connection. When current champ Mason Dixon (Antonio Tarver) undergoes a slump in popularity, a computer-generated hypothetical bout between Dixon and the once great Balboa airs on television and the edge is given to Rocky. Cue the publicity stunt where Dixon will challenge Rocky to boost his status, while Rocky will get one last fix. As ridiculous as all this sounds — Rocky is in his 50s — the film doesn’t slip into the absurdity of, say, Rocky IV’s cartoon violence. Instead, it carefully unfolds with compassion, honesty and a sense of humility. With Rocky Balboa, Stallone closes out his character in fine style, which few can guffaw at, while also revalidating himself as both an actor and director — let’s face it, the man needed this film for his career (much like he’ll need, erm, John Rambo next year). Stallone’s commentary is very detail-oriented and intelligent, similar to the one he gave in the recently reissued DVD of the original Rocky. He has the technical expertise and vivid memories to make him a great storyteller, and his commentary really is more than you can ask for from a one-man breakdown. Three featurettes are also included: the standard "making of,” which mirrors the determination of both Stallone and Rocky; a look at the fight scenes that also give props to Stallone for his physique; and another examining the CGI fight. Plus: deleted scenes, alternate ending, boxing bloopers. (MGM / Sony)