Movie Review: “Real Steel”

Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots with Wolverine

Real Steel takes the concept of giant robots that have been blowing up the big screen lately, and decides to give it the heart and soul of an underdog boxing film. In the end, does it work?

The answer is…kind of, but not really.

Hugh Jackman plays the self-centered, douchebag, underdog like a champ; which is ironic since he’s supposedly one of the nicest guys in the world. In the film, he plays Charlie Kenton, an ex-boxer who had to retire like every other human once they created giant robots to beat up on one another for sport. So instead of wiping up blood, you’ve got to pick up thousands of pounds of metal and debris? Because that’s obviously more cost-effective and requires less labor, right? Moving on…

Running out of money and robots, Charlie can’t seem to catch a break, or win a fight with any of his robots. Eventually, he finds out that his ex-girlfriend has died and he’s left with their son who he’s never met. What follows is a father-son story about believing in one another, and being strong enough to take the hits that life throws at you. It’s a film about having someone in your corner. See? Sounds just like every other motivational sports drama, right? It’s these moments that make the film good and lets you connect with Charlies and his son, Max. It’s everything else that leaves you feeling unfulfilled.

Hugh Jackman plays a role he’s done a hundred times, and he’s got it down. He’s a charming asshole who would sell his own son if it meant getting a few extra bucks to set up another robot fight and win it big…No, seriously…he really would. As far as acting from The Wolverine, he seems to have had a good time making more of a kid-friendly, family version of Transformers.

The actor who really steals the show is Dakota Goyo. This newcomer looks like he’s got a lot of potential. His scenes with Jackman are entertaining because of his whit, and tender when he manages to bring out more emotions than most actors in film these days. I’m taking bets now that the kid could have a nice career ahead of him if he decides to continue to pursue a career in acting.

The film itself was lack-luster in terms of the robots. Atom, the main robot of the film, was the silent warrior who took the hits and dished it out. I think that’s what bothered me the most. Atom was the one I was supposed to be caring about as he’s getting demolished in the ring, and yet, there isn’t enough emotional attachment between him and the audience because he is unable to talk. None of the robots can communicate in the film. They just fight. For a movie based around the emotional concept of the human being’s fighting spirit, making the decisions to have them silent came off as kind of cold. It created a barrier that prevented the audience from getting close and make the robots creepy as hell. The designs for most of the robots were also very cartoonish and took away from the intensity of some of the fights. I would’ve loved seeing grittier robots that could talk with their owners. It would’ve made for much more emotional scenes.

Overall,  Real Steel won’t be winning any Oscars. It’s an average movie with some highs and a lot of lows (i.e. the unnecessary dancing scenes with Max and Atom). That said, Real Steel is out on DVD and Blu-Ray now, and it’s the kind of film you can watch with the family and not be pissed that you spent time with the kids.

I give Real Steel a 7/10

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