Discs Are Rated
Click above to purchase "Rocky Boxed Set" at amazon.com
review by Zach B.
Rated PG (I, II, III, IV), PG-13 (Rocky V)
Rocky - 119 Minutes
Rocky II- 119 Minutes
Rocky III - 99 Minutes
Rocky IV - 91 Minutes
Rocky V - 111 minutes
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young,
Written by Sylvester Stallone (I, II, III, IV, V)
Directed by John G. Avildsen (I, V), Sylvester
Stallone (II, III, IV)
Retail Price: $89.99
Rocky - Audio Commentary with Director John G. Avildsen,
Producer Irwin Winkler, Producer Robert Chartoff, Talia
Shire and Burt Young, Video Commentary with Sylvester
Stallone, Behind-The-Scenes featurette, "A Tribute To
Burgess Meredith" featurette, "A Tribute To James Crabe"
featurette, Theatrical Teaser, Theatrical Trailers, Three TV
Spots, Collectible Booklet
Rocky II - Theatrical Trailer
Rocky III - Theatrical Trailer
Rocky IV - Theatrical Trailer
Rocky V - Theatrical Trailer
Rocky - 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby
Digital, English Dolby 2.0 Mono, French 5.1 Dolby Surround,
Spanish Dolby Mono, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles,
Chapter Search (25 Chapters)
Rocky II - 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen, 1.33:1
Standard, English Dolby Stereo Surround, French Dolby Mono,
Spanish Dolby Mono, English Subtitles, French Subtitles,
Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search (32 Chapters)
Rocky III - 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1
Surround, French Mono, Spanish Mono, French Subtitles,
Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search (16 Chapters)
Rocky IV - 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen, 1.33:1
Standard, English 5.1 Surround, French Mono, Spanish Mono,
English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles,
Chapter Search (32 Chapters)
Rocky V - 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby
Stereo Surround, French Dolby Stereo Surround, Spanish Mono,
French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search (16
Ah, "Rocky". The movie that made Sly Stallone a star and
the movie that spawned a pretty incredible franchise. It's
nearly been twenty-five years since "Rocky" made its big
screen debut, and movies have never been the same. From that
awe-inspiring music and scene, to many memorable characters
and catchphrases ("ADRRRIAAAANNN!"), there is no denying
"Rocky" has a place in film history, and it was the winner
of three Academy Awards®, for Best Picture, Best Film
Editing and Best Director for John G. Avildsen.
All these years later, "Rocky" still holds up and it is
still pretty timeless. Now in its 25th year, a whole new
audience can experience an incredible film. I think "Rocky"
will always hold up and conveys a pretty important message,
but more on that later. I guess what's even more amazing
about "Rocky" is how it came to be. On an episode of the
excellent Bravo show "Inside The Actor's Studio", host James
Lipton even said it's one of the best stories about getting
a movie made. The booklet inside "Rocky" goes into it some
detail, but on the show, Sly went into it more in-depth. He
wrote the movie in an "intense 86-hour" period, and bidding
for the movie went pretty high. Sly said up to about
$360,000 (though the booklet says 265,000). Names were
tossed around, including Robert Redford and others, and in
the end, Stallone really wanted to play the part. After a
ton of talks, Stallone got the part, and got about $380
dollars a week (or so he says). And how does fate play a
part in Rocky? Stallone's mother said that a seven-year
"curse" is you call it would be on Sly, and that he would
have bad luck. And seven years to the day, "Rocky" was sold.
So in Rocky, we meet the "Italian Stallion" for
the first time. Rocky Balboa is going nowhere in his life.
He's a club fighter and there's really not much to him.
However, in "the land of opportunity", Rocky is thrown into
the ring with world heavyweight boxing champion Apollo
Creed. Pure fate? Pure destiny? Pure luck? Rocky is about to
find out in a boxing match --- and a chance, of a lifetime.
Can Rocky "go the distance"?
There's so much to "Rocky" and it's so easy to understand
why audiences love this movie. It'll be around for
generations. Stallone's script is incredibly sincere and
really well developed, while the performances are really
tremendous, and it's no surprised why they garnered four
Oscar® nods (for Stallone, Shire, Burgress and Young).
Top it off with some great editing, great directing and
great everything else to make a great movie.
But what makes "Rocky" what it is is the simple theme
that we can all relate to it. It's just one of those feel
good movies that has so much to it. Again, this movie will
be around for generations all because of its simple theme
(and the fact that this is what made Sly Stallone a star)
about beating the odds. Of course, we can all relate to
"Rocky" somehow or another. In everyone's life, there's been
a point where one doesn't have faith or believes in oneself,
and the world around us seems so bleak and so heartless. A
time where we feel that we may not belong or there is
nothing to us, that things aren't going anywhere. But
something magical happens, and while the odds seem
unbeatable, you - and maybe some others have a little hope
and faith, and you feel that anything is possible. To me,
and I'm sure to many people, that's what "Rocky" is about.
It's executed really well, and a perfect example of how a
movie with a message should be. Yes, there have been movies
in the past and after "Rocky" about believing and beating
the odds, but for every "Rocky" there is, there are several
movies that miss the mark. You feel that they are rehashed
and reused and have no heart to them, they're just not very
good. But when you see one of those movies, just remember
"Rocky". It brings a nice feeling to the heart, and shows us
the power of movies. That movies don't have to be
manipulative to give an audience strong emotions.
Now on to the sequels... of course they're not as good as
the original, but some of them are pretty enjoyable. First
up, Rocky II. It literally takes place right where
the first left off, starting with the final scene from the
first movie. Apollo Creed wants a rematch after the intense
battle (though at first he didn't want as we know), but
Rocky is a bit reluctant. Rocky gets married to Adrian in
this one and Adrian gets pregnant. Of course, Rocky gives in
and begins to train again for the ultimate rematch. As far
as sequels go, "Rocky II" is one of the few sequels in movie
history, that I think, is just as good as the original and
even surpasses it in some ways.
First off, my philosophy is that anything with Mr. T has
to be good. I'm a big Mr. T fan, and if you're not, you
should be ashamed of yourself. With that out of the way,
Rocky III has Mr. T as the violent boxer Clubber
Lang. Here, Apollo Creed and Rocky become friends, as Creed
helps Rocky defeat Clubber Lang, to get back that "eye of
the tiger" after Lang defeats Rocky. I have to admit, Rocky
is still in his prime here, as Stallone directs this
installment (and wrote it of course). It's not boring, it's
pretty interesting, and most importantly, it's very
entertaining. And it has Rocky selling out and the vert
catchy Oscar® nominated song "Eye Of The Tiger". YEAH.
AND MR. T. HOW CAN YOU GO WRONG WITH MR. T? I PITY THE FOOL
WHO MESSES WITH T---okay, I've gone overboard. I apologize.
Ah, Rocky IV. I have mixed feelings about "Rocky
IV", but it's enjoyable and it gets the job done well. In it
(spoiler here) Apollo Creed is killed (NOOOOOO!) by the
cold, harsh Drago from Russia. Rocky seeks vengenance of
sorts and decides that he'll fight Drago, who's, pretty
much, a giant monster. It seems tough... but can you guess
what happens? My problems with "Rocky IV" are that it sort
of seems forced. I mean, I think the story is pretty decent
and it is executed well, but you can easily predict it.
Don't get me wrong, I like it, but it was an obvious attempt
to make more off of "Rocky". Still, it's a sequel I really
can't resist, it's entertaining and I do like it. I just
felt there was something new there, but something missing.
Still, it started to mark the fall of the franchise.
Basically, "Rocky IV" is more of the same. A tired and true
formula with some new aspects to make it worthwhile in the
Finally... Rocky V. Here comes the shredding from
me. Why. Why oh why oh why? "Rocky V" was simply pointless.
Even with Avildsen back on board to direct, it's just
terrible. It just really annoys me... it's like Rocky has
been screwed once again. He finds out that all his money is
gone due to an evil financial advisor, and due to injuries
from the last four movies, err, all his fights, he can't
fight any more. So it's back to South Philly for Rocky, his
son and Adrian. Rocky decides that he can train Tommy Gunn,
a street guy/boxer, and there's some backlash from his son,
Rocky Jr. Of course, Rocky has to settle things with his son
and the whole Tommy Gunn situation. The acting from the kids
are pathetic, but the acting from Stallone and nearly
everyone else is pretty good, if not a little overdone.
Again, it's a pretty lame entry and a pretty lame twist of
sorts... and I hear Sly wants to make "Rocky VI"... he
should have stopped at IV. Still, despite it all, I must
admit there are some nice moments in the film... but not
enough to save it.
Love 'em all, hate 'em all, love some of them, there's no
denying "Rocky" has an impact on film history, and this
boxed set from MGM is nicely done, though it is flawed in a
few aspects. You'll see.
Rocky is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic
widescreen, but I have to say this transfer was somewhat
disappointing. There are plenty of pieces of grain and dirt,
and a good amount of scratches, but what disappointed me the
most about this transfer is that it doesn't look as sharp as
it could have been. It's not a terrible transfer, not at
all, but considering a movie of this statute, I expected
better. Especially for a 25th anniversary re-release.
There's some slight shimmering here and there. Still,
considering what DVD can do and what it has to offer, this
transfer does not take advantage of that. Again, a movie
like "Rocky" deserves better, but it is pretty watchable and
the best I've seen it ever.
Rocky II is in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen
(nooooooooooo!) and is simply decent. The film looks its
age, as there are blemishes, some scratches and the print
itself is in terrible shape. It's very soft and fuzzy. If
you haven't noticed, this is the same transfer (and same
exact disc for that matter) from the previous edition. Night
time scenes and detail is decent at best, and there is some
shimmering, but the print itself ruins a lot from enjoying
the movie. The flip side has a full frame transfer.
Exclusive to this box set (at least for now), is Rocky
III and it's presented in a very good 1.85:1 anamorphic
widescreen transfer. It's a little bit soft, but it's in
very good condition. There's a lot of scratches, grain and
dirt, which you may find distracting, but there's some good
fleshtones and detail is pretty decent. Nothing too
spectacular, but it looks pretty good.
Rocky IV is also rehashed from the old edition.
It's in non-anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen, and a full frame
transfer on the other side. Even though it's not anamorphic,
it's as good as non-anamorphic presentations gets. Detail is
very, very good, colors are well saturated and there's not
that much grain or dirt to be found. If it was anamorphic,
perhaps, it'd be near reference. Shimmering is also kept to
a mininum. Despite the lack of anamorphic enhancment, it's
really sharp with a lot of clarity.
Rocky V looks the best, in a pristine 1.85:1
anamorphic widescreen transfer. Shimmering is really really
slight, and colors are saturated perfectly. Fleshtones are
dead on, as well as black levels. Exterior and night scenes
look really nice. I'd even say this is near-reference to an
extent. Pieces of grain and dirt are kept to a minimum too.
Too bad the worst in the series looks the best... well,
probably because it's the most recent.
Rocky is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital, and it's
a very good remix, I was quite surprised how good it
actually sounded. Dialogue is not distorted and the audio
seems to be really cleaned up. Nothing overlaps anything,
and the sound sounds really clear and it is easy to
understand. There are some nice pretty nice surrounds with
the memorable music and during the boxing scenes. A pretty
good mix for a very good movie. An English Dolby 2.0 mono
track (not all of you like 5.1 remixes), a French 5.1 track
and a Spanish mono track are included as well, as well as
French and Spanish subtitles (but unfortunately, there are
no English ones).
Rocky II is in English Dolby Stereo Surround, and
there's French Mono as well as Spanish Mono for sound. The
sound is decent, but the audio could have sounded a little
bit more clear. Effects are clearer and subtle sounds are
noticable, which is always good. There's not much to say,
except I think this movie could have benefited from a 5.1
remix. While I do enjoy the original tracks, I also like
remixes. Still, the track is decent, effects are noticable,
and some sounds are a little lacking, a lot of them pack a
good punch (no pun intended). There's something really
interesting to note about the subtitles. There are two
English subtitles tracks if you switch through them while
watching the movie. Both are different. Check out chapter 3
for example during the fight. One English stream just has
the commentators' words, while the other English stream has
the words, but puts who is speaking before it. Uhh... weird?
I thought so too. Interesting... I would have thought MGM
would have fixed it up. SWISH.
Rocky III has a Spanish mono track, a French mono
track and an English 5.1 Dolby Surround track (plus French
and Spanish subtitles). I wasn't too impressed, as I felt
there could have been more bass extension and better mixing.
The music sounds okay, but I felt that things could have
been empowered more, such as the music and even the fight
sequences. Oh well. Like most of the mixes and transfers,
it's pretty decent. Maybe if more effort was put into it, it
could have been spectacular. Just don't expect much. There's
some life to it, I just wanted more. Dialogue is clear and
nothing overlaps anything, which is always good. And no hiss
or background noise either.
With an English 5.1, Spanish and French Mono; plus
English, French and Spanish subtitles, Rocky IV has a
better 5.1 than "Rocky III". The music sounds particularly
good through the channels with good surround use to really
capture the essence of the movie. The fight scenes as well
as the crowd cheers are a lot more lively, and there's
really a lot more to experience in this track. Dialogue is
clear and hiss-free, and it's a very good mix with good
surround use, it fits it perfectly.
Rocky V has English Stereo Surround, as well as
French Stereo Surround and Spanish Mono. No English
subtitles here, just French and Spanish. Even though it's
not 5.1, the Stereo Surround is over two channels and is
surprisingly deep. Dialogue is clear and easy to hear, and
like all the other entries, nothing overlaps anything. The
music and fight parts sound really good with good surrounds
and action. Though it's not a full remix, and despite the
limit it has, "Rocky V" has a good last punch (you may say)
to it (sorry for the pun).
For it's 25th anniversary, Rocky gets a full
special edition treatment with some truly fantastic
supplements. Unfortunately, its sequels are not honored for
this anniversary, just the original that started it at all.
It would have been nice to get some additional supplements
for the other movies, or an evolution of the sequels or
such, but let's focus on what we have.
So back to "Rocky"... first up is a Commentary With
John G. Avildsen, Irwin Winkler, Robert Chartoff, Talia
Shire and Burt Young. It is edited, but for all you
"Rocky" fans out there, you'll find a wealth of information
to absorb. Things are pretty screen specific but not always.
Avildsen is quite insightful. He discusses good production
stories and how certain things fit the characters, he's
really enthusiastic. Winkler and Chartoff discuss how the
project came to them as well as some interesting tidbits.
Shire and Young also have good stories to share, and I found
them to be interesting. There's also some commentary cameos
I guess you can say, like at the start of chapter 3 (I won't
spoil it for you). This is definitely one of the better
commentaries I've heard in a long time.
A 28 Minute Video Commentary With Sylvester
Stallone is not a full commentary, but there's a lot
here. I would have liked a full one with him considering the
fact he created the whole world of "Rocky" and it has played
a major part in his life, but don't get me wrong, you'll
really love this. And maybe Stallone wouldn't have more to
add during the commentary, who knows. Anyhow, Stallone talks
about writing the movie, his inspirations (a Muhammad Ali
fight), creating key elements and the whole experience, and
in between there are key clips from the films. Stallone is
quite insightful and very interesting to listen to here, and
this is a must watch for anyone who likes the film.
MGM also serves up some three great featurettes. First up
is Behind The Scenes With John Avildsen. Lasting
twelve minutes in length, Avildsen shows off some nice, rare
behind the scenes movies of fighting tests and whatnot. He
gives a good preface before with interesting comments, and
ends it nicely, encouraging you to compare the rough footage
to the final film. Check it out for sure.
Tribute To Burgess Meredith last eight minutes,
and it's a really nice tribute with clips from the film and
has a variety of interviews with the like of Stallone, Burt
Young, Carl Weathers and Lee Grant. Pretty much this
featurette has some nice stories about Meredith, and it
seems everyone had a blast working with him and liked him
very much. I must admit I think he was a fantastic actor,
and did a superb job in the "Rocky" films, and his memory
will live on as new generations experience "Rocky" and his
Though not as well known, there's a Tribute To James
Crabe. Avildsen talks about the cinematographer, and
they did have a long history together. Avildsen talks on
camera and stills as well as clips from the movie are shown.
It's only three minutes, but still nicely done.
Rounding the disc out are three Rocky TV Spots
(wow, TV ads have surely changed) which are enjoyable, as
well as some Theatrical Trailers. The teaser trailer
for "Rocky" is in full frame while the actual trailer is in
anamorphic widescreen. The other "Rocky" movie trailers are
on the disc as well. "Rocky II" is in full frame, "Rocky
III" is in full frame, "Rocky IV" is in full frame and
"Rocky V" is in anamorphic widescreen. Also, inside the case
there is a Collectible Booklet with some neat facts
about the movie.
As far as extras on the other discs go, each one has the
original Trailer. If you want to watch those and
don't want to go through each disc, of course, you can watch
them all on the "Rocky" Special Edition disc.
Truly, this set is a toss up as it varies, but if you're
a "Rocky" fan, it's worth it in the end. While I would have
liked more supplements for the other movies, the thing that
bothers me the most (and I'm sure will bother you too) is
that "Rocky II" and "Rocky IV" are just rehashed from their
original releases, meaning, they are not anamorphic. I don't
think MGM is going to re-release "Rocky II" and "Rocky IV"
(and this was the perfect opportunity to improve on the old
releases), so if you're a fan of the franchise, get this set
for sure. With a retail of ninety bucks, that's about
eighteen dollars per disc, which is pretty respectable. And
considering you can get this set for about sixty, that'll be
only about twelve dollars per DVD, even better (and you can
only get III and V in this set!). The presentations of the
disc aren't go to blow your home theater out of the water,
but they are above average. This could have been really
something special though if MGM improved on II and IV, added
more supplements and put just some more care into the
presentations. Still, for what's here and what you get, I
think it's worth owning in the end. You may feel
disappointed by some aspects, but you'll be glad in the end
of how it is, despite how it does vary.
"AADDDRRRRRRRIIIIIAAAAAAAANN, GET THIS SET!".
(Rocky I - 4.5/5, Rocky II- 4.5, Rocky III -
4/5, Rocky IV - 3.5/5, Rocky V - 2/5 -- - ALL NOT
included in final score)
(3.5/5, NOT an average)