With this sixth Rocky movie under his heavyweight belt and another Rambo in the works, the thought arises that Sylvester Stallone may be attempting some bizarre late-career reprise of his entire filmography. If so, it probably won’t be long before we see teasers for a Demolition Man sequel and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot 2: My Mom Will Still Shoot if You Don’t Stop!
Even the latter film would surely be more entertaining than much of Rocky Balboa. Like its aging (nay, aged) lead character, this follow-up is almost arthritically slow-moving — far less golden-era Ali than grill-shilling-era George Foreman. Not until the movie’s second hour does the now-widowed Rocky start training to battle his latest opponent, played believably, if unmemorably, by real-life pugilist Antonio Tarver. Even the decidedly old-school extras — which include a mirth-free ”bloopers” reel and an ironically bloodless Stallone commentary — seem flat-footed.
And yet, thanks largely to the power of nostalgia, this undoubtedly poor film is not without its pleasures. Director-writer-star Stallone wisely invokes the franchise’s early glory years at every turn, and it is undeniably moving to see filmdom’s most famous fighter grieve over his now-dead Adrian or simply lumber up those damn steps one (hopefully) final time.