Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
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  1. Reviewed by: Mark Bell
    The acting in the film is grade-A, with Stallone bringing the more mumbled Rocky from the first film spliced with some rousing inspirational monologues when the moment is right (not forced, not preachy… just perfect).
  2. It's not so much a sequel or even a remake for a new generation of moviegoers as it's a retranslation for the old one: an irresistible statement that "Yo, life ain't over till it's over."
  3. 80
    What gives Rocky Balboa its unexpected pathos is the titanic humility of Stallone's performance, the earnestness with which he plays a man knocked down (but not out) by the ravages of time.
  4. There is much to poke at in Rocky Balboa, yet the movie, with its amusingly updated ''Gonna Fly Now'' montage and its very niftily staged climactic bout, summons just enough incredulous wit about just how often Rocky has been around this particular block to let Sylvester Stallone earn his nostalgia.
  5. 75
    A deep and astonishingly authentic streak of melancholy runs through this fifth sequel to the 1976 sleeper that made both struggling actor Sylvester Stallone and hard-luck slugger Rocky Balboa international stars.
  6. 75
    Better than decent. But if Stallone (who wrote and directed the flick) had pulled a few punches to the heart, it could have been truly worthy of that first, glorious movie.
  7. Stallone doesn't pander to audiences with unearned sentiment. He believes in his story, in the inspirational element that has sent thousands of folks running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art over 30 years.
  8. The movie itself, defying all odds, comes close to a knockout.
  9. Reviewed by: Ethan Alter
    After the widely reviled "Rocky V," it was just as unlikely for there to be a satisfying conclusion to the Rocky saga, but Rocky Balboa fits the bill.
  10. 75
    Rocky Balboa is not as good as "Rocky," but it allows us to forget the other four sequels, none of which was memorable.
  11. Defies all expectations with a low-key, technically stripped-down production that really does come close to capturing the heart and soul of the original.
  12. Does Rocky Balboa deliver? Weirdly enough, it does: I was jumping out of my seat during Rocky's bout. If you close your eyes and try to halve your IQ--aim for something between a baboon and a lemur--you might even think it's a masterpiece.
  13. Surprisingly Rocky Balboa, is no embarrassment. Like its forerunners it goes the distance almost in spite of itself. It's all heart and no credibility except as a raw-boned fable.
  14. It matters because this boxer taps into something deeper in our collective souls than the desire for entertainment. It's the hope that one day we're going to win big, too, after everyone's given up on us. It's as hokey as it's true.
  15. 67
    Like the character of Rocky, it's got heart to spare, and is by turns one of the sweetest of the sweet-science pictures as well as one of the most doleful. Fighters fight, it's what they do. And Balboa, god bless him, fights on.
  16. 63
    Just when you're ready to puke, the old Bill Conti theme ("Gonna Fly Now") kicks in -- are you feeling it? -- Stallone steps in the ring and every day is Christmas. All together now: Rock-ee! Rock-ee!
  17. 63
    Rocky Balboa is far from essential, and there are moments in it bad enough to make you wince. But I dare you not to feel at least a tiny little rush when that opening bell rings, and Rocky starts swinging one final time.
  18. What's touching about Rocky Balboa, the sixth chapter in the saga of Philadelphia's lord of the ring, is the small-scale stuff. Not the spectacle of the has-been, now 60, connecting with a punch. But the sight of an actor connecting with a character.
  19. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    As written, directed and, of course, acted by Sylvester Stallone, this film provides more insight into the character and his psyche than previous films, which were much more about the punches thrown.
  20. Think you're too tough for a sentimental comeback story? Well, a few minutes with Rocky Balboa might just knock the cynic out of you.
  21. Rocky Balboa scores a split decision: A familiar start, some flat-footed middle rounds and a solid, flailing finish. And since Stallone has promised to throw in the towel on the franchise, we'll add an extra half star in honour of his diligence in the gym.
  22. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    The time away from the ring has done Rocky and the franchise some good, although it takes pic a good long while to gather momentum and clout before a surprisingly satisfying third-act heavyweight bout.
  23. Reviewed by: Rob Nelson
    Rocky Balboa, effortlessly reflexive and patently, even proudly, absurd, is a tough movie to dislike -- and believe me, I've tried.
  24. Against all odds this panoply of punishment is almost thrilling, even though it's raging bull of a different kind.
  25. 60
    As usual with Stallone's Rocky sequels, the schmaltz is unbearable, but the fight is plausibly handled, and Stallone's sincere sadness at growing older makes this an unexpectedly satisfying conclusion to the series.
  26. 60
    Even as Sylvester Stallone's long goodbye to the heroic underdog who made him famous descends from pathos into silliness, and from fairy tale into hallucination, you can't help liking the big galoot.
  27. Reviewed by: Ian Freer
    If you hear the Rocky theme and think '118 118', you might wonder what all the fuss is about. For the rest of us, this is a reminder of why we fell in love with the character in the first place.
  28. 58
    While Stallone likely hopes to go out with a bang, this small, manipulative movie doesn't have any real punch to it.
  29. Above all this is a film for gluttons for punishment, for those who never ever can get enough of Sylvester Stallone. Everyone else, please leave the building.
  30. 50
    Watching Rocky Balboa go through the usual paces does trigger a few helpless waves of nostalgia, especially once Bill Conti's famed score kicks in and Stallone sticks it to a few sides of beef. But audiences needn't be responsible for helping an over-the-hill actor through his midlife crisis.
  31. The original Rocky would have found a way to ground that encounter in reality, to engender honest emotion and give audiences an Everyman hero both noble and believable. This film is too busy worshiping its hero to bother.
  32. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    This is no corporate project made to squeeze a few more dollars from a fading cash cow. No one else has been asking for another "Rocky," other than maybe Burt Young . No, this is a rarer beast -- an auteur sequel -- and it's so wrapped up in its maker's personal mythology and psychic needs that it becomes a hall of mirrors to which we're given a slack-jawed ringside seat.
  33. Anyone who appreciates Sylvester Stallone or enjoys the "Rocky" movies will find moments to enjoy in Rocky Balboa and will leave the theater reasonably satisfied. It's just good to see the guy, and it's good to revisit the character. And that's everything good to be said for the experience.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 324 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 9 out of 140
  1. Dec 10, 2012
    Who would have ever believed that Rocky VI would be good?! Oh how we laughed at Stallone's desperation! Then we saw the movie. Rocky Balboa isWho would have ever believed that Rocky VI would be good?! Oh how we laughed at Stallone's desperation! Then we saw the movie. Rocky Balboa is the best Rocky movie by FAR and is one of my favorite movies of all time. It makes me cry and feel unbelievably happy every time I see it. Absolutely perfect! Full Review »
  2. TonyC.
    Jan 3, 2007
    I was somewhat disappointed because much of this movie felt really forced. The heavyweight champs in the other movies were very believable, I was somewhat disappointed because much of this movie felt really forced. The heavyweight champs in the other movies were very believable, this champ looks like middleweight. 60 year old Rocky had a bigger build than this Kevin Garnet look-alike. It's a shame that Stallone didn't use a real heavywight, because that would have made the final scene more realistic. Many of the other actors did not fit either, and some of the scenes were just too unrealistic [**SPOILER***] Rocky's son quiting his job after his Rocky's speech to watch his dad train . And do you expect us to believe that Rocky, after all these years, has no one else to bring to Vegas than "little" Marie and her son. I wouldn't expect Rocky to have to bribe people into becoming his friends. I really wanted to like this film, and the final scene made me forget some of the flaws, but as another reviewer said, it felt like it was written by a college kid. Full Review »
  3. Nov 19, 2014
    Rocky Balboa was FINALLY the sequel that faithfully captured the spirit of the original. Rocky II was simply so that Rocky could win theRocky Balboa was FINALLY the sequel that faithfully captured the spirit of the original. Rocky II was simply so that Rocky could win the championship, III and IV were Rocky in some kind of alternate cartoon action universe, and Rocky V was about Rocky not boxing which equals terrible. But this movie comes along and it's like I'm seeing the Rocky I met in the original for the first time in over thirty years. Like the first film, it's all about the characters and the whole theme of being true to yourself and trying your best. Not to mention, we get to see Spider Rico again! No overwrought dramatics about winning the un-winnable fight against some cartoon supervillain like a Clubber or a Drago. There is no villain in this one. Mason Dixon as the current champ isn't a cartoon, he's a fully fleshed-out character who is as troubled about this fight for his own reasons as Rocky is. Without giving away who wins, Rocky himself compliments Dixon as a great champion after the final bell. In the end, it doesn't matter if Rocky wins or loses the fight. Just like in the first movie, he's already won. Full Review »