Rocky Balboa (2006)
This poetic, beautiful and dignified film is a worthy swansong for the great character of Rocky Balboa, as well as for Sylvester Stallone himself. Thirty years ago, Rocky Balboa propelled Stallone into superstardom, but more importantly, one of the best written characters in modern American cinema came to life. He lived through the honest story of the original, and through the eventually semi-exploitive sequels of the 80s. But the character itself never really sold out. It's hard to imagine a more dignified basis for a sequel than what Stallone has written and directed with Rocky Balboa. The simplicity and sincerity of Stallone's characters and message is both a relief and an inspiration. The years and passion of Stallone and Rocky shines through, like they are merged together into one. Stallone lives his Rocky with pleasure and gratefulness, while at the same time conveying a sadness that is the mark of a true swansong. Stallone's script has every bit of what old Rocky-fans expect, but still manages to maintain the necessary credibility and honesty. A great achievement by Stallone, which lifts him back to the level where he placed himself back in 1976. Every misstep along the way is forgotten.