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In 1976, Sylvester Stallone burst onto the scene in Hollywood with ROCKY ($25), a feel good "rags to riches" story that took home the Oscar for best picture that year. ROCKY not only launched the career of one of Hollywood’s top leading men, it proved that Stallone had real talent (a point that has been in contention since then), with his Oscar nominated performance and screenplay for the film. Stallone stars a Rocky Balboa, a third rate boxer who might have made it to the big time, but never did. One day, out of a clear blue sky the opportunity of a lifetime drops into Rocky’s lap. The World Heavyweight champion has decided to give a "nobody" a shot at the title as a publicity stunt. Rocky looks at this as his last chance to get out of the gutter, so he does whatever it takes to make the fight count.

While the story line may seem a bit farfetched, the characters are very real and they served to make the film a winner. Stallone has been lampooned for years because he so vividly portrayed the simpleminded boxer who wants nothing more than a better life. Talia Shire is a true gem in the film, her portrayal of the incredibly shy Adrian who is drawn out of her shell by Rocky is quite moving. Burgess Meredith is marvelous as Mickey, the cranky old boxer who sees Rocky’s opportunity as his last chance to impart his lifetime of experience to a fighter who could make something of himself. Carl Weather gives a wonderfully over the top performance as Apollo Creed, the Heavyweight champion who is marvelous showman and self-promoter (like so many other real Heavyweight champions). Burt Young gives a very real performance as Adrian’s brother Pauly, a hardworking stiff who hopes to ride Rocky’s coattails to a better life. The cast of ROCKY also features Thayer David and Joe Spinell.

MGM Home Entertainment offers ROCKY in both Letterboxed and pan and scan presentations on opposite sides of the DVD. The pan and scan version is actually full frame and makes for acceptable viewing. The Letterboxed version is great, since it is the first time that ROCKY has been made available in its proper theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The transfer looks very good, but is somewhat limited by the film’s original cinematography. There is noticeable film grain in a number of sequences, but the image is detailed and the colors are natural looking. Digital compression artifacts are seldom noticeable on either presentation.

ROCKY has been given a re-mix into Dolby Digital 5.1, with decent results. The film’s musical score receives the largest benefit from the remix. There are, however, a number of small directional effects as well as ambiance added to the film’s soundtrack. Other soundtrack options include a matrixed Dolby Surround track, plus French and Spanish language tracks. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus offer an original theatrical trailer in addition to the standard scene selection feature.

ROCKY is a great movie and the fact that the DVD offers the film in the Letterboxed format for the first time, makes the disc an absolute must have.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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