DVD Review: Rocky (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
Release Date: December 5, 2006
· John Avildsen
· Sylvester Stallone
· Talia Shire
· Burt Young
· Carl Weathers
· Burgess Meredith
by Jonathan Baylis
Published: January 11, 2007
Recently, I had the pleasure of catching a screening of "Rocky Balboa". I felt it was a worthy successor and a nice endcap to the original. At this point, you'd have to live in a cave to not know the movie "Rocky". In hindsight, I remembered it as a fun underdog flick, but when this DVD arrived, I decided to give it a closer eye.
I was surprised to recognize for the first time that the opening shot of "Rocky" is the image of Jesus holding out communion. Rocky's fighting in the aptly named gym, the Resurrection Athletic Club, and it's raw. Very raw, as is the rest of the film. It practically looks like "Mean Streets" at times... just in Philly. Set in the city of the Constitution, it is truly an American story, and the fact that it was released during the bicentennial was not lost on Stallone and the filmmakers. America is the country of the second chance. And in this movie, it's a second chance for Rocky and Adrian. At its heart, "Rocky" is a love story about broken people. Broken, but not licked. And there's no better metaphor for the struggle of life than the sport of boxing.
The casting is spot on and Stallone was never better. The combination of Stallone's script and performance must've made people think he was the love child of Marlon Brando and Paddy Chayevsky (Chayevsky himself beat out Stallone for that year's Writing Oscar for "Network".) Casting Burgess Meredith as Mickey was like casting Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan. He adds such weight and respectability to this mostly fresh-faced (at least to the audience) cast. Next to Meredith, Talia Shire must've been the most recognizable actor, having been in two other Best Picture Oscar winners ("Godfather" and "Godfather II" of course") and she's perfect as the woman who proves it's never too late to blossom. Burt Young is also excellent as her brother Paulie, and isn't the caricature he transformed into in the later films. He's as sad and sorry and complex as can be and Young pulls it off. All of the above were nominated for Academy Awards (though none won.)
This is a double DVD Collector's Edition chock-full of goodies:
There are three commentaries. Stallone has one all to himself. He seems so smart and funny here that it makes you wonder why he's made so many poor choices. There's a separate track for the producers, director, and actors (Shire, Young, & Weathers). And boxing fans will appreciate a track with the huge personalities of boxing analyst Bert Sugar and trainer Lou Duva, rife with historical facts and anecdotes.
Stallone also provides an additional video commentary.
There is a prolific amount of making-of and behind-the-scenes footage in this collection including a three part documentary called "In the Ring" and ten interesting featurettes that really get into the nitty gritty of certain aspects of Rocky's filmmaking such as score, make-up, and design. Also respectfully included is a tribute to Burgess Meredith.
A fun clip of Stallone from the Dinah Shore show.
And of course, a bunch of trailers
Simply put, "Yo."
"Rocky" was even better than I remembered and most certainly deserves a place in anyone's collection, if only to spring it on some wide-eyed youth to see it through their eyes for the first time. It's a true American classic, and with all of the extras this set includes, they only enhances the experience.