“Every day I truly miss that character; every day, I almost cry. Because when I say it, you won’t believe it. But when Rocky says it, it’s the truth.”
Talking straight to camera, Sylvester Stallone’s video commentary is a truly affectionate 28-minute reminiscence about how he created one of cinema’s great sporting heroes – the underdog pugilist who socked his way from zero to hero, on screen and at the Oscars. But chances are, you already own it.
The one new, BD-only extra here is ‘Feeling Strong Now!’, a trivia game where you answer posers on Rocky, boxing history and the Making Of features to defeat your opponents. Surprisingly fun, but not exactly a stretch for Blu-ray technology.
Never mind. Bringing all six Rocky movies to HD, this is near-essential for anyone who doesn’t own them yet. Rocky and its first sequel are a potent one-two combo, with Carl Weathers’ Apollo Creed matching Balboa for emotional punching-power.
Rocky III – despite the snarl and swagger of Mr T – slips into cartoon melodrama. Rocky IV is still Commie-bashing Hollywood cinema at its most guiltily pleasurable, while Rocky Balboa is the saga’s feisty, fuzzy farewell. And Rocky V? Well… let’s pretend that just didn’t happen, shall we?
This seven-disc boxset hauls in all the great extras from the earlier DVD collection. Well, almost. Where is the original Rocky audio commentary? Not here, that’s for damn sure. Oh well. What is here is excellent.
Just when you think the one hour-and-15-minute Making Of covers everything, there are interviews about the make-up, score, art direction and cinematography (great footage of Garrett Brown testing out his revolutionary SteadiCam rig by filming his girlfriend running up and down the Philly Art Museum steps long before Stallone did), plus Sly appearing on a TV talkshow in 1976 wearing a magnificent salmon-coloured suit and floral shirt combo.
Rocky Balboa is, predictably, the best-looking Blu-ray of the bunch. Skip to the fight scenes to see the HD transfer at its most stunning – they’re gorgeous, gritty, laser-sharp, vibrant and minutely detailed. Audio is superb, too, picking out Sly’s mumbled dialogue, pumping up Bill Conti’s rousing score and taking the meaty body-blows and facethwacks to a whole new level.
By comparison, the other five films look a little weathered as they climb back through the ropes. No painstaking restoration here sadly – all suffer regularly from a lack of depth and detail.
Don’t expect a massive jump from the original DVDs. Made in 1990, Rocky V shines up brightest. Shame you’ll be using it as a coaster…
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