MGM once again goes the well with this now Rocky: Heavyweight Collection which only has a remaster of the first film while the other 4 (Balboa already looks great) are left with old transfers which are nice but nothing notable. Except for a throwaway game, all of the features on the 7th disc have been ported over and placed on the Rocky disc so you’re not going to be missing anything.
Rocky: Heavyweight Collection
Genre(s): Sports, Drama
Fox | PG/PG13 – 635 min. – $59.99 | February 11, 2014
Note: Since this set has been released before (both on DVD and Blu-ray), I’m going to make this section pretty brief giving my quick opinions on each film and then delving a bit deeper in the features, video and audio sections for the first Rocky film as it’s the only new transfer.
THE MOVIES – 3.75/5
Rocky (1976) — 5.0/5
Perfect from beginning to end, the first Rocky films is brilliantly executed with excellent fight scenes and fine performances from all involved. Story wise it’s the age old underdog tale and that final boxing match is pure genius. Not going to lie, I did shed a tear when it was over.
Rocky II (1979) — 4.0/5
Not quite as good as the first and rehashes the story, this sequel still was really good and Stallone, who also sat in the director’s chair, has solid acting especially from Stallone and Weathers and as in the first film, the boxing matches are well choreographed and in terms of story, does offer both insight as well as growth for Balboa.
Rock III (1982) — 3.5/5
Another step down yet still a fine entry in the series attempts to give an emotional angle with Mickey’s death leading to Rocky’s withdrawal and losing, pardon me for saying this, the eye of the tiger. I did enjoy the banter between Weathers’ Apollo Creed as he trains Rocky to go up against the seemingly ferocious and all around jackass Clubber Lang (played by Mr. T). We also get a fun and yet strange sequence as Rocky wrestles with Thunderlips (Hulk Hogan) who goes crazy on the crowd.
Rocky IV (1985) — 3.25/5
Certainly one of the weirder entries that began with Rocky for some bizarre reason getting Rosie the Robot to Pauley for his birthday and the way the scene was filmed, it’s like we got lost and wandered into a different movie that so happens to star Stallone as a character named Rocky Balboa. In any case, once we get beyond that, we’re introduced to Drago (Dolph Lundgren) and perhaps one of the best lines with “I must break you”. Otherwise, it’s a fine sequel but it’s clear the series is on the decline at this point.
Rocky V (1990) — 2.5/5
And then came the fifth movie which was bad almost all around and despite the return of John G. Avildsen to helm, it’s a mess and downright depressing at times in which case I’m glad Stallone didn’t go with the original ending where Rocky dies. Easily the worst one, it took all my will to get through it.
Rocky Balboa (2006) — 4.0/5
Luckily Rocky V would not be the last one with Stallone coming back one last time and delivers one hell of a film and presenting emotion that appeared to be genuine emotion at the core as Rocky takes the ring to fight the reigning young champion. It’s a great movie and the perfect conclusion to the franchise.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.0/5
This release comes in an HD Keep Case, with a glossy side-sliding slip cover, housing the six discs. Unlike the “Undisputed” Collection, the features have been transferred over to the first Rocky disc which itself has received a new transfer. The discs for Rocky II-V are bare bone.
Audio Commentaries – There are three commentary tracks included: 1) Writer/Actor Sylvester Stallone; 2) Boxing Legends Trainer Lou Duva and Commentator Bert Sugar; 3) Director John G. Avildsen, Producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff, Actors Talia Shire, Carl Weathers, Burt Young, and Steadicam Inventor Garrett Brown.
8MM Home Movies of Rocky (1975) (8:13) – Narrated by Director John G. Avildsen and Production Manager Lloyd Kaufman, we get some cool footage.
Three Rounds with Legendary Trainer Lou Duva (4:31) – This is an interview with the man who relays his philosophy about training and how it was done back then and today.
Interview with a Legend (6:47) is with sports writer Bert Sugar talking about Rocky movie and its impact on the city of Philly. He also talks about his time watching boxing.
“The Opponents” (16:10) goes through the opponents and their personas and what the obstacles they present to Rocky as well as casting the parts. It features newish interviews with Carl Weathers, Dolph Lundgren and others.
In the Ring (1:14:59) is a three-part documentary chronicling the movie and has interview footage with Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Weathers, John Alvidson and Irvin Winkler as they recount their times working on the film.
Steadicam: Then and Now (17:35) – Cinematographer Garrett Brown, the inventor of the steadicam, talking about his time working on Rocky and some test footage of the cam.
Make Up!: The Art and Form with Michael Westmore (15:18) – The make-up designer chats about his work on Rocky.
Staccato: The Composer’s Notebook with Bill Conti (11:37) covers the iconic score and theme and how it came about.
The Ring of Truth (9:35) has Art Director James Spencer discussing dressing up the sets and on-locations shooting.
Behind the Scenes with John G. Avildsen (12:27) – Avildsen shows us the 8MM film used in prep for the fight scenes.
Tribute to Burgess Meredith (7:47) and Tribute to James Crabe (3:37) honors the two men and their contributions to the movie.
Video Commentary (28:56) – Stallone fondly recalls his time on the film, at the time this was filmed, 25 years later.
Sylvester Stallone on Dianh (1976) (17:17) is his appearance on the talk show to promote Rocky. Gotta love 1970s fashion…
Stallone Meets Rocky (2:59) is a dumb stunt with the side-by-side footage with Stallone the actor chatting it up with Stallone as Rocky Balboa. A real waste of time.
Audio Commentary with writer/director Sylvester Stallone
Deleted Scenes (23:19) – There are eight scenes that failed to make the cut, including an alternate ending. These are nice and all, but not necessary.
Boxing’s Bloopers (1:31) is your usual gag reel with some line flubs.
Skill vs. Will: The Making of Rocky Balboa (17:47) takes us behind-the-scenes to see how this sixth film came to be.
Reality in the Ring: Filming Rocky’s Final Fight (15:38) looks at the last fight scene in the Rocky series.
Virtual Champion: Creating the Computer Fight (5:08) covers the motion capture, plaster face, digital face and body scan elements for the visual effects for the fight scene.
VIDEO – 3.75/5
Rocky — 3.75/5
The only new transfer in this set is a slight improvement over the 2006 release with good detail levels, a clean-looking transfer and nice balance in colors. It’s not the best looking film even for the era I’ve seen and MGM/Fox could’ve done a better restoration job, but it’s aserviceable looking.
Rocky II — 3.5/5, Rocky III — 3.5/5, Rocky IV — 3.75/5, Rocky V — 3.5/5, Rocky Balboa — 4.75/5
Each of the sequels vary in quality with 2 and 3 showing some dust marks and scratches but otherwise decent detail levels with sharpness and stark black levels. All of these don’t show signs of artifacts or pixilation and for Rocky Balboa, it’s an incredible transfer with excellent detail levels throughout.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
Rocky — 4.0/5
Not sure if the track is new or not, but for my ears, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is good shining through for the theme and score while the boxing scenes sound quite good and robust with the roaring crowds. It’s not the most dynamic track but it’s impressive enough.
Rocky II — 3.5/5, Rocky III — 3.75/5, Rocky IV — 4.0/5, Rocky V — 4.25/5, Rocky Balboa — 5.0/5
The sequels all receive a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and although none, outside of Rocky Balboa, are remarkable, each one does sound decent enough and like with the first movie, the theme and songs (“Eye of the Tiger”) come through well enough. The LFE channel in 2-5 don’t kick in very often for the fight scenes, there’s some depth there.
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Overall, MGM once again goes the well with this now Rocky: Heavyweight Collection which only has a remaster of the first film while the other 4 (Balboa already looks great) are left with old transfers which are nice but nothing notable. Except for a throwaway game, all of the features on the 7th disc have been ported over and placed on the Rocky disc so you’re not going to be missing anything. So, is it worth the upgrade? Um, no but if don’t already own this set or need to a quick birthday gift, then maybe it’s worth picking up.