On paper, this could have gone either way. Sylvester Stallone is old and weird, and the amount of Rocky movies at this point is somewhat a joke. Yet somehow the last two have been fantastic, defying all odds and past patterns of sequel quality. In this one, Apollo Creed's son wants to be trained by his dad's old sack of meat/friend Rocky. This film is pure guy cry concentrate: take a manly icon from years past, kill all his friends, give him cancer, and make him train the son of his best friend from the first film. The action is intense, the acting is somehow amazing despite the main actor also being in the horrible Fant4stic debacle, and the mixture of nostalgia and modern cinema is intense.
That ending, with Rocky going up the Philly steps...oh man. Do it Rocky, do it for America.
Speaking of nostalgia mixed with modern, how about a hand for this little gem? The collective sigh let loose by the world's fandom when this turned out to be just as good as we hoped it would be pushed the Earth a few inches to the left. Practical effects, characters that weren't stereotypical insults on legs, and the perfect mix of old and new made for a film that fans and newcomers alike could enjoy. It also made all the money ever, so that's nice. If you haven't seen it yet, then do so. If you have, then see it again. If you've seen it several times, then me too, and wasn't it great?!
Many might think that a particular character's death would be the cause for crying in this installment, but it wasn't really played for tears. The real misty-eyed moment is when Rey, the first independent and powerful woman to grace Star Wars since Princess Leia, uses the force to grab Luke Skywalker's lightsaber. When the music swells and she ignites the blade, with it's blue glow lighting up her determined face....I did tear up and I'm not ashamed to admit it.