Blu-ray Capsule Review: Rocky – The Undisputed Collection

Rocky – The Undisputed Collection

QUICK THOUGHTS: This new Blu-ray collection of the Rocky franchise replaces my previous 2004 DVD collection, which contained the first five films and my separate copy of 2007’s Rocky Balboa. Of course, if you own those two items you already own pretty much everything included in this new set as the lone new feature is a new interactive game called “Feeling Strong Now!” which is just a Rocky trivia feature hardly giving enough reason to buy this set.

The Blu-ray presentation is hardly impressive, only improving in quality as we get later and later down the line, which is no surprise as the negatives haven’t been sitting around for as long and aren’t in need of any severe amount of restoration. However, none of these films saw any kind of nw restoration and it shows.

Outside of the picture quality of Rocky Balboa, Rocky is the best of the bunch, but it is presented on a single layer Blu-ray, which is a bit limiting. Of course, this is a film from 1976 and the dark and gritty appearance is part of its quality. I would much rather see the film looking the way it does here than to see it restored beyond recognition with colors blown out to the point it is no longer indicative of the film we’ve come to know. So often Blu-ray watchers think restoration and high-definition means the colors need to “pop” off the screen, but a glossy appearance isn’t always what it’s all about. That said, this is a perfectly reasonable picture, but it could have benefit from a little more work.

Rocky II, however, is a mess. Sure, the dual-layer presentation gives it improved quality, but this is quality in terms of resolution, but not of cleanliness. The image is filled with speckles and artifacts throughout, which means we are not getting our money’s worth. Blu-ray high definition should be presented with care, not an overall sense of laziness.

Like Rocky II, Rocky III, IV and V were not available on Blu-ray until now and while Rocky II is the ugliest of the bunch the films that follow it are all pretty much on par with the quality of the Rocky presentation with Rocky Balboa looking absolutely pristine. Of course, this set isn’t claiming to be a fully restored release, but when it’s called the “Undisputed Collection” it shouldn’t be so easy to dispute, and the supplementary material doesn’t help out.

SUPPLEMENTS: There is plenty of supplementary material, but all of it (other than the previously mentioned interactive game) has been available on previous DVD and Blu-ray releases. Rocky Balboa is a mirror image of the Blu-ray release of the film and the rest of the additional features are comprised of previously available material from the 2-Disc Rocky DVD release. However, missing is the commentary track on the film as the first five films are all feature-less.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I’m happy I own this set simply because no matter the lack of restoration, this is still the best all six Rocky films have looked, so in that respect we are getting the very best these films have to offer. However, without commentary tracks on any of the first five films and the knowledge a future release of any of the first five films would improve on a release that is supposed to be the superior choice is a bit disheartening.

On top of all this, the set is offered in a multi-disc plastic case with flipper pages without a booklet of any sort. Basically, it seems like they tossed each film on a Blu-ray disc, repurposed previous releases and slapped together some artwork to get it out in time for the holidays. Too bad, because a little more effort could have made this a release to celebrate.

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