I went to see Rocky Balboa last night. For once the reviewers are right -- this movie harks back to the original Rocky in all the right ways. It's a quiet story of a gentle man with a kind heart and an amazing capacity to absorb many forms of pain. The film, and the main character, are full of a grace and dignity that compel you to love them for everything they are and forgive them for what they aren't. I cried many times during this movie -- at one point, I dont think my tears completely dried up for over five minutes.
You see, I grew up watching the Rocky movies. They, with The Man from Snowy River, are my earliest movie-memories. I cannot remember a time when I didn't know and love these movies and their characters. And so, seeing Rocky Balboa as a middle-aged father of a grown child, as a man trying to figure out how he fits into today's world... well, it was almost like watching my own father getting older, facing uncertainties with admirable courage and strength of character.
Only one thing bugged me about Rocky Balboa, and that's how they filmed the big final fight. The rest of the movie was shot very classically, with "normal" camera angles and movements, but the fight went all flashy modern HBO pay-per-view and silly. I know they were trying to emphasize the juxtaposition between the way boxing (and life) were in Rocky's heyday and in modern times, but I wish they would have eased off on the modernity and allowed the audience a good old-fashioned Rocky boxing match. At least the final round was more normal, with the action building in a steady crescendo to the final triumphant blows.
Oh, and they never mentioned this in the movie (or if they did, I missed it), but it sure looked to me like Rocky got to battle a fellow southpaw! I wish they'd mentioned that, since I seem to remember that in at least one of the original movies, Rocky's opponents were disconcerted by the fact they'd be fighting a lefty. And, for Rocky, this had to be interesting, because not often do southpaws get to fight other southpaws. I'm sure the strategies had to be a little different, and I wish the training montage had been a little longer and included this sort of thing.
Anyway, really lovely movie that I definitely will buy when it comes out. Now I want to go back and rewatch the first four (I, like many, don't consider Rocky V to be part of the true canon) and pick up threads of continuity that I may have forgotten, as it's been a while since I watched any of them.