Friday, 14 October 2011

241: Review - Real Steel

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Real Steel poster

Real Steel
14th October 2011. Location: Cinema

Estranged father / cocky but vunerable son / mismatched pairing / bonding / underdog in a contest / support from love interest / more bonding / one dimensional bad guys / father has doubts about final challenge / finds emotional strength in son / tears / more bonding / final challenge / will they succeed..?

Of course they bloody will, haven't you seen any films at all?

Despite this Hugh Jackman vehicle actually being ^ that ^ clichéd, this movie's so convincingly made I couldn't help but get drawn in. It's not perfect, and the sequences with Max and his robot-pal doing a bit of a dance (yes, a dance) made me cringe, but Real Steel isn't about the destination, it's about the journey.

Dakota Goyo stars as 11yr old Max, and is nowhere near as annoying as the trailer makes out (apart from the dancing). He reminded me a lot of Jake Lloyd in The Phantom Menace, and you can shut up because I know what you're about to say. Hugh Jackman also puts in a decent performance as his absentee father and ex-boxer Charlie, as they're reunited after Max's mother's untimely death in an accident.

The other (human) characters are largely cut-outs, inserted into the story to fulfill very specific roles, and as such there are no real standout performances. They're acceptable certainly, but there's not a lot you can do with 'nasty man in cowboy hat who enjoys 'yee-hawing' and beating up our hero'.

The curious-er character is Atom, the robostar of the story. Atom is the sparring-bot who rescues Max from falling to his death in a junkyard (built, for some reason, right next to a cliff in the middle of a town?), resulting in the youngster insisting they rescue (read: steal) him and clean him up. It's established fairly shortly after this meeting that Atom is sentient; in that he's not just a remote-control machine like the other boxing-bots we've met so far. Atom actually understands Max when he speaks to him, and can respond (although not verbally). The weird thing is that this isn't expanded upon at all. We see Max beg his dad to 'train' Atom using traditional boxing techniques, although Charlie doesn't seem to twig that Atom is actually learning, not memorising.

Come the film's finalé, I fully expected the remote-pad to mysteriously stop working, as Atom becomes independent of his controller, and wins the fight using the movies he's learned. But it's no great spoiler to say that the crescendo is Charlie's moment, as he regains some of his former glory as a boxer-turned-trainer. The fact that Atom is alive isn't explored at all, which seems like a shame. That said; when Real Steel works, it's absolutely on fire.

A clichéd underdog movie, but played well. And who doesn't love watching robots smack the shit out of each other?

Think of it as a cross between Rocky and the podracing sequence from The Phantom Menace. Make of that what you will, but I enjoyed it.


^^ It's not quite 6/7 material, but it's damn close.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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