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Rocky: The Undisputed Collection
(Blu-ray)

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: PG/PG-13 (Rocky V)

Running Time: 634 Minutes

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Burgess Meredith Talia Shire 

Written by: Sylvester Stallone

Directed by: John Avildsen/Sylvester Stallone

 

Studio: Fox/MGM

Retail Price: $99.99

Features: Feeling Strong Now! Game, In The Ring Documentary, Makeup, Music, Directing, Camera Work Featurettes, Three Rounds with Legendary Trainer Lou Duva, The Opponnents, The Ring Of Truth, Burgess Meredith Tribute, James Crabe Tribute, Interview with a Legend: Bert Sugar, Video Commentary with Sylvester Stallone, Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots

Specs: 1.85:1 Widescreen 1080p High Definition, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English PCM 5.1, English Mono, English Dolbu Surround, English Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, French Subtitles, Scene Selection, 7-Disc Set

Released: November 3rd, 2009


 

 

It's tough to grade all these transfers as a whole, so it's really more like a collected average. All the movies are in 1080p high definition, in their original aspect ratio of 1.85:1.  As you'd expect, some of the Rocky movies look better than others. Naturally, the best transfer is of "Rocky Balboa" since that's the most recent one. The other films, for the most part, are a mixed bag. Detail is pretty strong and colors are decently saturated, but nothing really pops out. Most glaring is the softness that comes out on these transfers, and how they all weren't really cleaned up: flaws such as blemishes, nicks and dirt pieces are always noticable and can get a bit distracting at times. Because of the added resolution they are a step up from the DVD counterparts, but probably not as much as you'd think.

 

Save for "Rocky Balboa" (which has a English PCM 5.1 track), the first five Rocky movies feature DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks. Those expecting immerseive experiences as if they are with Rocky in the ring will be disappointed. The tracks are okay: all the movies have dialogue that is clear and pretty and easy to hear, while the music — such as Bill Conti's iconic theme and the always fun "Eye Of The Tiger" — have a bit of power through the channels. Sound effects are a bit more mixed: you'll hear the crowds by the ring, the screams and the punches thrown, but in the earlier films they sound a little more on the dull and flat side — not to mention artificial. Surrounds can be discrete, but as a whole, I wish they were more enveloping. Subwoofer use is mighty strong in all, though — and fidelity isn't too bad either. The original "Rocky" unfortunately sounds the worst because it's really a remix of the Mono track (which is also included), while "Balboa"'s PCM tracks fares the best and gets you into the action the most.

English, French and Spanish subtitles are included on all the tracks. Most of the movies English Dolby Surround tracks, as well as Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in Spanish and French.
 




First up, "Rocky Balboa" is the same disc as the 2007 Blu-ray release. That means you get Stallone's commentary where he discusses why he chose to properly end the franchise, Deleted and Alternate Scenes, Bloopers, Skill Vs. Will: The Making of Rocky Balboa, Reality In The Ring: Filming Rocky's Final Fight and Virtual Champion: Creating The Computer Fight. It's a solid disc overall, with everything here worth visiting if you liked the last installment.

The bulk of everything else comes in the seventh disc, appropriately titled the "Rocky Bonus Disc." First up is a Blu-ray game entitled Feeling Strong Now! No, it's not boxing with your remote — but a trivia game.

In The Ring is a three-part documentary that runs about 76 minutes. Stallone, most of the main actors and production staff discuss Rocky's place in film history. This is a really solid and engrossing documentary that focuses on the first film's script and the character's origin, the production, the actors in it and ultimately the impact of the series. This is not to be missed.

Featurettes are also included, that focus on cinematographer Garrett Brown, make-up artist Michael Westmore, composer Bill Conti and director John Avildsen — the last of which has some nifty behind-the-scenes footage of the first movie. Also relevant is Three Rounds with Legendary Trainer Lou Duva, where the famed trainer speaks for about 5 minutes about his experiences in the world of boxing.

The Opponents is a great look at all of Rocky's rivalries through the series, and how they were just as crucial to the series as the underdog boxer himself. This piece is peppered with film clips, and interviews with most of the actors. There's also Interview With A Legend: Bert Sugar — which is short but sweet — and The Ring Of Truth, which focuses on the low-budget production design for the first film.

There are also two Tributes, lifted from the original special edition of "Rocky" on DVD: one for actor Burgess Meredith (Stallone and other actors praise him), and cinematographer James Crabe (exclusively eulogized by Avildsen). Also from the original disc is a Video Commentary with Sylvester Stallone. It's really just an interview that runs 28 minutes, where the actor/writer discusses his inspiration for the character, writing the movie and the first film's production. While some of the information may seem to get overlapped from all the bonus features, Stallone is rather insightful here.

Rounding out the disc is Sylvester Stallone on Dinah! where the actor's full segment is shown on the popular talk show, Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots. Phew!
 

As far as bang for your buck, it's hard to go wrong with "Rocky: The Undisputed Collection." Given you can get the set for less than the 100 dollar retail, you do get all the films in the franchise as well as plenty of bonus features. And since not all the "Rocky" movies are not yet available on Blu-ray, this collection is the only place where you can get most of the films in high definition. While you get plenty of extras, you don't get everything ported from the DVDs. Likewise, the transfers for most of the movies seem like rush jobs and the sound mixes could be better. If you must have the "Rocky" movies now, then this isn't a total rip-off... but given the double-dipping that has made up the DVD/Blu-ray industry, it seems like a guarantee that somewhere down the line we'll have a better and more comprehensive set of one of the most beloved film franchises of all time.