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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish
  Extras
  • 6 Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - & video Commentary from Sylvester Stallone
  • 3 Featurette
  • TV spot

Rocky: Special Edition

MGM/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 119 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

A long time ago, Sylvester Stallone had the world at his feet. His first real feature film, Rocky, which was written and acted by him, had won the Best Picture Oscar for 1976, and his future as a successful actor looked set in stone. Somewhere along the way however, things went a little haywire and Stallone became no more than an iconic he-man action figure playtoy along with Arnolht Schwarzzeenneggerrr, doomed to forever search for his return to glory and wonder what in great gadzooks went wrong.

Anyway, enough of the history lesson, this is about ROCKY! Cue orchestra and screaming fans...BA BA BABBA BA BABBA BA BA BAAA... Rocky "The Eye-talian Stallion" Balboa is a loser. But he's a loser with a heart of gold. He's just trying to make ends meet, he's working hard to woo the shy sister of his best friend and has a shitty job as a collector for a loanshark. Making his miserable way through life with his pet turtles Cuff and Link, Rocky has one real love to fall back on, and that's boxing. He sure isn't doing it for the money though because he loves to use his face to block, even though his trainer Mickey thinks he "coulda been a contender" once.

But the days of forty dollar purses could be over for our boy Rock, when out of the blue the heavyweight champeen o' da world, Apollo Creed, sets up a bout to celebrate the American Bicentennial. When Creed's original opponent drops out, he turns it into a publicity event and he selects Rocky to take a shot at the title, thinking it'll be a romp in the park. Suddenly Rocky is the object of everyone's attention, where as before he was a nobody to be ridiculed and ignored. As the eyes and expectations of the world turn on him in the face of a million to one shot at the big time, he decides all he wants to do is go the distance and get some respect.

And get our respect he did. As I said, Rocky won the hearts of audiences and critics alike around the world, and brought home the Best Picture Oscar that year. While Stallone would face ridicule in later years for his hamfisted acting and braindead films, you can't deny that he created a magnetic man-child character in Rocky Balboa, one which many people saw as an inspiration to overcome the seemingly impossible in their own lives. In the afterglow of this film, what young Italian boy wouldn't take on his older brothers in a fight in the backyard, thinking that if Rocky could do it, why couldn't I? Many bloodied trips to the bathroom and wooden spoon slaps across the back of the head from irate mothers would soon explain why not. But we all knew that the scars, blood noses and black eyes would have made Rocky himself proud. So we persevered, because that's what Rocky was all about. Sticking to your guns, giving it your best shot and getting seven shades of shit beat out of you.

Ahh memories…..

  Video
Contract

This new 25th anniversary release of Rocky comes to us via a 1.85:1 16x9 enhanced transfer. It moves through many alternating scenes with low lighting on internal sets and overcast skies on location, yet the image on this disc still manages to be detailed and clear, with only some minor compression artifacts becoming visible, yet not marring an overall fine image. The grim streets and internal settings come up well with cold tones and not surprisingly varying levels of shadow detail, with director Avildsen mentioning in the extras the cinematographers effective use of shadows.

The low shooting budget of around a million dollars sometimes shows through, but this is a satisfying transfer anyway that reflects the grittyness of the film well.

  Audio
Contract

The 5.1 mix is airy and clear, but falls short of being exceptional, basically being a center channel heavy mix with limited stereo imaging and surround use. While dialogue has a clarity that shows the unique characteristics of each voice, there is some slight distortion as characters raise their voices to a shout. The score sounds much more dynamic and punchy, but ultimately the fight scenes don’t come to life like I’d hoped for. The fight does sound gritty and realistic though, with body blows that sound much more natural than the totally unnatural nuclear explosions that pass for punches in the following movies.

  Extras
Contract

The devoted Rocky fans will have a smile on their faces when they see the generous special features put together for this special edition dvd. Starting with the audio commentary, it is voiced by director John G. Avildsen, actors Burt Young, Carl Weathers and Talia Shire and producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff. They all take turns reminiscing about how the story came to be, and occasionally discuss specific scenes. The talk is fairly constant and is generally interesting to listen to. Contains quite a few small anecdotes which add to the interest. Next, and my favourite extra simply because it is a little different, is the Video Commentary from Sylvester Stallone. With his weather beaten head looking straight at the camera, he talks about writing Rocky, how it changed, how it came to be picked up, and little odds and ends such as how his dog, Buttkus Stallone, got to be in the film. He comes across as refreshingly honest and frank, and I could easily have watched another half hour of this. He comes across as more interesting to listen to than you would imagine because he doesn’t take himself too seriously.

The Rocky Featurettes section contains three short featurettes. Behind The Scenes With Director John Avildsen has him discussing his use of 8mm film to capture Stallone and Weathers in rehearsals for the fight scene and shows the original silent footage he shot. Tribute To Burgess Meredith has Stallone, Weathers, Shire and Lee Grant talking about Meredith, who died in 1997. Tribute To James Crabe has director Avildsen talking about the Rocky cinematographer.

The Original Trailers section has a teaser and theatrical trailer and for Rocky, and trailers for the rest of the series. Interesting to watch because you can chart the decline of the series through them and the attempt to redeem itself by the end. You could watch these trailers in order if you didn’t have the time to sit and watch all the movies and you would still get the same result, or at least a good summary of the dips and peaks of the story. After that you can view three Original Rocky TV Spots used to promote the film.

Finally, hidden in the title menu is a bonus easter goog. Accessed by selecting UP on your remote, this reveals the word ROCKY in the top right corner of the screen. Pressing ENTER will take you to a weird little clip where Sylvester Stallone has a conversation with an old friend you might recognize.

  Overall  
Contract

Unless you're punchdrunk, not a fan of the film or just anti-Stallone, you’d be hard pressed to find fault with this knockout presentation. The strongest contender of all the Rocky’s, with winning performances that just seem so honest in their portrayal of flawed characters, Rocky: Special Edition is a knockout dvd that goes the distance.

And yes, all puns were intended.


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      And I quote...
    "BA BA BABBA BA BABBA BA BA BAAA"
    - Vince Carrozza
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-525
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DB930
    • Speakers:
          Wharfedale s500
    • Centre Speaker:
          Polk Audio CS245
    • Surrounds:
          Wharfedale s500
    • Subwoofer:
          DB Dynamics TITAN
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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