So the new Rocky film, Rocky Balboa, is out—and as much as it pains me to say this, it's fucking ridiculous. Anticlimactic ending, gross treacle, and way too many starry-eyed, "touching," wisdom-of-the-fool moments... it's painful and sad. What isn't sad, though, is the whole Rocky legacy. Let's recap!
• Rocky (1976)—Funny, sad, great dialogue, unbeatable score: The first Rocky is the best Rocky. The love story is believable. The fights are believable. And the training scenes make you wanna rise above all your bullshit and handicaps and hang-ups and fulfill your deepest hidden dreams. I know that sounds cheesy, but Rocky's too sincere to care about looking stupid. He just exists. Like a mountain or an ancient tree, he just is. It's kind of zen. Kind of. This one won an Academy Award for best picture!
• Rocky II (1979)—Rocky is basking in fame (and losing the plot a little). Adrian is pregnant with an annoying little bitch that'll become Rocky's yuppie fuckface of a son in the new film. Apollo Creed is huffy and wants a rematch. Fists fly. Good times.
• Rocky III (1982)—This Rocky isn't the best thing Sly's done, but it does introduce the greatest fight song of all time, "Eye of the Tiger," which made me so pumped after I saw this as a kid I tried to kick over a mailbox. Rockhead fights Mr. T and gets beat down. Goes into training with Apollo Creed, then finds the true path to ascension lies in finding your inner "eye of the tiger."
• Rocky IV (1985)—Rocko fights the Russian. Totally unbelievable, terrible dialogue, semi-racist undertones. Still, if you don't walk away from this film wanting to transmogrify into a giant, steel-armored eagle and soar above the clouds, dropping nukes on your enemies, something is wrong.
• Rocky V (1990)—This Rocky is completely unnecessary. Pretend it doesn't exist. Same goes for Stop! or My Mom Will Shoot, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, Get Carter, Tango & Cash, Staying Alive, etc.