The greatness of Rocky cannot be understated. Here we have a sports movie that transcends its genre. Its deep characters, beautiful Philadelphia photography, soundtrack emotion, and powerful performances are all flawless. Every frame offers something memorable, and the story simply couldn’t hit any more positive points if it tried.
Sylvester Stallone shines in his first starring role as an up-and-coming boxer with one shot to take on the champion. The turmoil he faces between his trainers, his girlfriend, and his opponent is engrossing. It’s a story that has survived since 1976, and has been copied countless times since. This is the underdog story that spawned every one to follow.
Burt Young delivers his most unforgettable character as Paulie. His scene in which he destroys his own home to kick Rocky out is one of the greatest pieces of dramatic cinema in Hollywood history. It works, much like everything else in Rocky. The ending chooses not to take the predictable route, yet is still emotionally uplifting and overwhelming.
What other sports movies miss is the character. Rocky may be about a boxer struggling to make it by coming from nowhere, but it’s everything else that makes it a classic. The direction is wonderful direction from John G. Avildsen (who would go onto the Karate Kid series) is the cap on what is a perfect movie.
Flesh tones that waver into pink and mild compression dominate this Blu-ray transfer. The movie unquestionably looks its age, and the benefit of the HD presentation is barely noticeable. Details are sparse, and soft nature of the print doesn’t help either. Black levels are strong if slightly inconsistent, though this about the only positive aspect to the video presentation.
Audio is decidedly dull, and dialogue sounds washed out. If anything, the DTS-HD mix has brought out the worst of the audio, making the low fidelity qualities of the ’70s stand out. Not even the packed stadium during the finale can move the sound out of the overworked center channel, although the soundtrack does bleed into the surrounds slightly.
The only extras are trailers. None of the features from the multiple DVD releases were worthy of the Blu-ray release apparently.