I think if you poll Rocky fans and ask them for their least favorite movie of the series, two of them will battle for the top spot: Rocky III and Rocky V. Incidentally, these are also the two movies from the franchise with the least memorable scores. Rocky V doesn’t even have one.
Rocky III on the other hand is memorable for two things: it introduced the most memorable vocal anthem ever (Survivor’s “Eye of the tiger) and it meant the death of “Mickey”. And the theme for Rocky’s hard headed raspy voiced coach is a true gem…Forget the rest of the score. Forget the 80’s vocal inspirational songs sung by Sylvester Stallone’s brother Frank. They are no match for anthems like Stan Bush’s from Bloodsport not to mention “Eye of the tiger”. Forget the generic cues Bill Conti wrote for this movie, some funky, others sounding as if they were rejected cues from a horror score from the early 80s. Just take “Mickey” with you, a tender and heartbreaking theme which plays on the “Gonna fly now” motif in an elegiac and thoughtful manner. It expresses the terrifying loneliness Rocky felt when his coach died. In just a few minutes Bill Conti managed to make me feel as lost as our hero felt when his mentor was gone. And I can just forget about cues like “Decision” and “Reflections”…
Rocky III lacks the heart, motivational factor and identity of the other Rocky scores. It might work out of context, but I cannot separate it from the hero.
Cue rating: 74 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 8 / 23
Album excellence: 33%
Gonna fly now