stone Fans were spoiled this month with the simultaneous release of the excellent Creed III and Rocky: The Knockout Collectionwhich presents the first four films – stone, Stone II, Stone III, Rocky IVand Rocky IV Ultimate Director’s Cut: Rocky v Drago — in glorious 4K. Surprisingly, despite the dated production values, each photo packs a punch, visually speaking.
The original stone lacks the visual pizzazz of its big-budget sequels. However, this new 1.85:1 2160p Dolby Vision transfer dramatically improves contrast and cleans up some of the film’s grainier moments. In fact, it’s probably the best you’ll get with this release, so I won’t nitpick. For obvious reasons, stone is the least impressive of the four films in this set. Still, the grit and grime of the minuscule production serves the story well. At the same time, important moments, such as the climactic fight sequence between Rocky and Apollo Creed, appear in detail. You can see every bit of sweat, blood, and decay dripping from our warriors. It’s damned impressive.
Stone II is a step from a visual perspective. Where the original sometimes boasts the look and feel of a docudrama, Stone II has all the markings of a big budget film. The scenes are brighter, the camera work is more mature, and the fight sequences are more intense.
However, the films that really impressed me in 4K were Stone III and Rocky IV, which looks stunning. Stallone, who directed, and cinematographer Bill Butler, really brought out the bright colors and incredible lighting. Rocky IV it seems like yesterday. You can see every blow on Drago’s face during the final battle. The excellent DTS-HD MA 5.1 immerses the audience in the big, bloody battle, with noticeable separation between different speakers. It helps to have one of the best soundtracks of the 80s backing you up.
In general, it is stone set should please fans who watched the original four classic films in the best quality possible. While this is a shame Rocky V and Rocky Balboa not included in this package, along with better (or newer) special features, this release is still good. Plus, you got it Rocky vs. Drago: The Final Director’s Cut to boot. What’s not to love?
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