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Click above to purchase "Rocky Special Edition" at amazon.com

 

Rocky
Special Edition

review by Zach B.

Rated PG

Studio: MGM

Running Time: 119 minutes

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Burgess Meredith, Carl Weathers

Written by Sylvester Stallone

Directed by John G. Avildsen

Retail Price: $19.99

Features: 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

Specs: 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)

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.

"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" 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 (which I was glad to see, 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).

For it's 25th anniversary, "Rocky" gets a full special edition treatment with some truly fantastic supplements. 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 other films.

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.

"Rocky" is a fantastic movie, and DVD helps preserve this film and gives it a decent presentation. This special edition is excellent, with a great amount of supplements and a very low price. It doesn't get better than this folks, so with a price like this, "Rocky" should be in everyone's collection.

(4.5/5 - NOT included in final score)

(3/5)

(3/5)

(3.5/5)

(4/5, NOT an average)

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