IHAO on ... Rocky V

We've reached the original conclusion of the series.  Of course, there is now a sixth addition, a final epilogue.  But this is the final chapter ... before the new final chapter.  How is it?  Pretty damn good.

Let me get through the little quibbles first.  Rocky Jr. is now older, and has a new name, and is played by Stallone's kid Sage.  It takes place immediately following Rocky IV, which makes those things more apparent.  It also brings back the terrible multiple montages from Rocky IV, but it mercifully only has two, and they are back to back, so they don't take up a lot of real estate within the film's run time.  The final fight, because of its different-ness from every other fight in the series, is shot differently as well.  Lots of dutch angles, and ... it just doesn't look as good.  It is easily ... ok, it isn't easy.  It is in the low-middle of the fights. Also, the new music and the new renditions of the classics - no "Eye of the Tiger" anywhere - just isn't up to snuff.  It just isn't as haunting as the first few films, or as powerful as in III.

Those things said, this movie is back to form.  It is a really good story, with really great characters, introducing three new ones - Robert Balboa, the kid, since he is basically a completely new character; Tommy Gunn, Rocky's new protegee he's trying to bring up like Mickey brought up Rocky; and George Washington Duke, a promoter in the Don King variety.  All three are great characters, which is fantastic, considering how bland the Russians were.

The one good thing about the Russians: this line.

The themes of the film are about legacy, and about how to move on, and how to deal with your past.  It is very cleverly written, with a lot of great bits about those things, without hitting you over the head.  No one says that stuff, it is very much something you have to watch and absorb, which is great, much like how the first film did things.  John G. Avildsen is back, which is nice to bring things full circle-ish.  He isn't as good here, though.  Not sure why, but for whatever reason, things seem a little listless, and Act 3 comes across as incredibly rushed.

This movie isn't as good as the three best in the series.  But it is a pretty good movie on its own.  It adds a little dialogue to Rocky IV to make it more relevant and more interesting, and does re-edit the fight to make it work a lot better.  Oh, and the scrolling title is back, with a new variaition, and I'm a big fan of that.  I'll definitely watch it again.

Grade: B+

Rocky Movie Review Bank

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