(On Blu Ray, September 2018) After mostly holding up for three entries, the Rocky series took a serious hit with Rocky IV and became even worse in Rocky V. Within five minutes of the previous film’s conclusion, capricious plotting shows up to ruin everything: Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky is brain-damaged, and suddenly penniless except for a convenient boxing gym. The riches-to-rag story feels like a cheap shot this far in the series (not to mention that it makes no sense for an athlete as famous as Rocky to be suddenly penniless—even the movie itself, later on, has his name plastered on magazine covers) and the result makes for a poor follow-up to the series so far. Five movies in, it feels like a soap opera, not helped along by the nature of the film that spends far too much time around the dinner table and not enough in the ring. We cannot believe in the film’s attempt to return to the humble roots of Rocky’s character, not at this point. There’s a nice narrative fillip in having Rocky be a rather bad mentor and seeing his protégé turn evil, but whatever originality is sought is sabotaged by the execution of the film—The Rocky series has never been about subtlety, but seeing the character of Duke being presented as cartoonishly evil, and the journalists acting as plot explainers is a low for the series. Even the familiar characters behave in dumb ways, with Rocky not quite noticing his neglect of his suddenly teenage son, Adrian keeping her emotions in check until her mandatory once-a-movie shouting scene and brother-in-law Paulie is just an idiot (who also got rid of his robot). Annoyances abound—I still can’t fit rap music in the pre-Creed Rocky universe, and the ending street fight seems to step out of the series as well—and the film’s execution seems perfunctory at best. No wonder Rocky V is often left off from movie marathons of the series.