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With: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, etc.
Written by: Sylvester Stallone, etc.
Directed by: John G. Avildsen, Sylvester Stallone
MPAA Rating: PG/PG-13
Running Time: 591
Date: 18/03/2013

Rocky Anthology (2004)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Box of Boxing

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Though far from a masterpiece, the first Rocky (1976) still feels fresh and miraculous, a true Cinderella story making Sylvester Stallone a worldwide star. (It won the Oscar for Best Picture, completing the fairy tale.) The other four Rockys (1979, 1982, 1985, and 1990) definitely ruin the integrity of the first, but they each contain truly inspirational and appealing moments, no matter that they get progressively worse. I imagine it would be difficult today to watch only the first one without nursing a desire to see the others as well (hence the box set). The first disc contains a commentary track by director John G. Avildsen, actors Talia Shire, Carl Weathers, and Burt Young, and the producers and cinematographer. Stallone contributes a separate video interview that's far more compelling; he's the one we most want to hear from. Avildsen was always a pedestrian director -- he also helmed the three Karate Kid movies as well as Rocky V -- and it made sense for Stallone to take the reins for Rockys II through IV. He above anyone else understood Rocky's lower-class regular-guy appeal (not dissimilar to Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp).

Note: This review pertains to the 2001 box set release. I haven't seen the 2004 box set and can't report on any changes or improvements.

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