Rocky I and II are clearly the best of the bunch, which is typical of any movie franchise, but audiences kept coming back for more no matter how ridiculous, cliched or hackneyed the plot and characters became. Yes they descend into true cheesy fanboyism but so what, it's wonderful nostalgia with Rocky "Forrest Gump" Balboa at the helm.
It's true guilty pleasure time, bring on the fist pumping and you've gotta love the training montages. I and II aside, this set is wonderfully terrible!
Rocky I - Don't get me wrong, this is by far the best that Rocky has ever looked but we witness some real sharpness inconsistencies throughout. Colours for the most part are muted apart from reds which appear over saturated. Skin tones also take on a reddish tint. Film grain is plentiful especially in the darker moments. Sharpness is lacking although we do have much better clarity than standard def versions. Blacks are prone to crush from time to time but we are free of any compression artefacts. As for the print, it's in pretty good shape although we do get some speckles here and there. 3/5
Rocky II - Much the same as the first, although the reds are thankfully more true and natural in appearance. Skin tones are also more accurate. The grain is back but this is finer than before and has a more filmic look. Blacks are slightly more robust but some crush is still apparent. Again we do not suffer any compression issues. We do have an abundance of white speckles popping up especially in the first hour. 3.5/5
Rocky III - Some images look razor sharp and have a real clarity and depth while others appear soft and flat. Colours are vibrant and skin tones remain accurate. Film grain is fine to non-existent with the occasional dark scene baring witness to swells of noise all over the image. At times the picture is truly stunning. Print wise we are OK, the speckles are still there but these are in no way as distracting as the second movie. Free of compression artefacts. 3.5/5
Rocky IV - First of the batch to really impress. Sharpness is consistently good with defined edges and no digital enhancements. Film grain is purely filmic and never obtrusive. The print is in fine condition with no scratches or debris evident. Colours are rich and vibrant and the contrast is spot on. Skin tones are warm and natural. The darks are robust and we finally lose the crushing issues. Free of compression artefacts too. 4/5
Rocky V - I was surprised that this was a step down from part IV, sharpness is good but only rarely does it appear as good as the last. Colours are more washed out too. The contrast is nicely balanced. Skin tones are accurate too. Darks are rich and inky with no crushing issues. The print is pristine with no scratches, speckles or debris. Far superior to standard def but I was expecting a sharper image overall. Again we are free of any compression issues. 3.5/5
Rocky Balboa - This transfer is truly epic. Razor sharp imagery with extremely detailed fabrics and textures. Sly shot this with a high-contrast stock and then colour timed it in post production and the results are staggering. Blacks are wonderfully inky and vibrant with excellent delineation. The colours are vibrant and natural with warm, accurate skin tones. The final fight sees the images switch to a high definition video look like you would see if watching a real fight on Sky Sports. Reference quality, this is faultless. 5/5
Overall this is a solid looking box set, it's the best you will have ever seen them look, but I will insist that with a full remastering these could look even better. They are superior than the DVD versions.