So after what I considered a satisfying ending in Rocky V the question in my mind was if this film would be a successful follow up or feel forced and unnecessary, especially considering the mixed reaction the film seems to have.
It’s not one of the best films in the series but it’s still pretty good and I’d probably rank it somewhere in the middle. As someone who doesn’t care about sports it’s the character arcs and story that I like about this series and those are the things this film is centered around. In fact I’m starting to think most of the criticism this film and Rocky V get are from the people who are more invested in the big fight and the build up to it.
Stallone himself gives a great performance, you can tell this is a character that is important to him through not just his delivery but the dialogue itself. This is his character and after over a decade between films he still knows exactly what makes the character work.
Like in Rocky V the heart of the film comes from the scenes with Rocky and his son. While it’s a shame Sage Stallone didn’t reprise his role Milo Ventimiglia does a great job taking over the role. It’s interesting seeing their roles reversed from the last film too with Rocky Jr (or Robin as he prefers to be called) being distant and Rocky wanting to spend more time with his son.
We also have Marie, a returning character from the first film this time in a larger role. There were points when I was worried they were going to turn her into a replacement love interest after Adrian’s death but instead she is the supportive friend that Rocky needs after loosing most of the ones he had over the years and Paulie hasn’t exactly been that good a friend to Rocky over the course of this series.
The fight itself is surprisingly decent considering this is a much older Rocky this time around. It helps that Dixon is played by an actual boxer. I do wish the film give more attention to Dixon’s character arc, he has some good scenes but sometimes it feels a bit rushed and more happened off-screen than on-screen.
But how does this compare as an ending to the series to Rocky V. Well while I think Rocky V had a better ending scene Rocky Balboa is a better ending for Rocky’s story. But while Rocky’s story is over this marathon is going to end with the beginning of another.