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Blu-ray Review: Rocky Balboa

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Some franchises deserve to go out on top. Rocky was one of them. Contrary to the jokes about how Stallone has nothing left and the franchise is dead, Rocky Balboa proves its worth and then some. This is the second best movie in the series, just behind the iconic original. Movies almost never achieve everything they set out to, making Rocky Balboa the rare exception.

For details on the movie, read the full review. For an analysis of the Blu-ray release, read on.

Blu-ray presents the film with all of its striking color intact. Rich, deep contrast and immense levels of detail are far better than even the DVD, which was a near perfect transfer for that format. The close-ups during the final rounds of the fight reveal every bead of sweat, and the grisly details of the cuts. This is an amazing piece of transfer work.

The audio doesn’t have a chance to truly kick in until the finale. The soundtrack does sound wonderful when it’s called on early, but the crowd noise during the fight envelopes the viewer. Heavy punches land with crunching bass. It takes a while to get there, but the disc holds an impressive audio sting when it needs to.

Seven deleted scenes begin the extras, including an alternate ending that runs a little over three minutes. It’s in the spirit of the series, yet simply doesn’t feel like the right way to go out. A minute and a half of bloopers are unexpected for a drama, though well worth watching. Skill vs. Will is a 17-minute 'making of' that provides a decent look at how the film came to be, and why it needed to be made.

Reality in the Ring is a 15 minute look at how the final Balboa fight was filmed. Virtual Champion takes a short tour of how the computer simulation was crafted. A commentary by Stallone adds another great bookend to this series. All of these are carry-overs from the DVD.

It’s now up to Stallone to end another one of his trademark franchises on a high note. Rambo 3 was a hysterically funny farce, and a long way from First Blood. Now, there’s a chance to save that one with John Rambo, a sequel that took 20 years to make. What’s next? Cobra?

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.