I Saw A Film Today… Real Steel

I honestly thought the first time that I saw the trailer for Real Steel that it was actually a trailer for a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots film. So I was quite surprised when in fact the words “Real Steel” popped up instead of the name of the popular toy from years past. After doing a little digging I came to find that it is based on a Richard Matheson short story. Which really put me at ease. It means that it’s based on a story instead of a toy- an important distinction.

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Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) was a mediocre boxer back in the day but one with heart. Now he travels to county fairs and fights beat up robots against bulls. Why robots you ask? Because somewhere in our near future human beings will lose interest in men and women spilling blood from hand to hand combat and require robots to fulfill this void. Messed up, I know.

Finally after years of trudging from state fair to illegal boxing ring, Charlies friend and landlord Bailey (Evangeline Lilly) has convinced him that it’s time to get out of the game. At the same time his ignored son Max (Dakota Goyo) will be spending the summer with him in exchange for $100 thousand dollars in exchange for custody of him. Real father of the year stuff right there.

While the two are out on the road trying to pawn off what they can of their remaining bots, young Max comes across a beat up sparring robot named Atom. After some cleaning and training Max wants to put it in a fight, even though Charlie thinks it is a waste of time. But Atom wins his first fight. And another. Then another. In fact, Atom begins getting recognized throughout the robot boxing community, even some of the big names.

I quite liked Real Steel, much to my surprise. Going into it I had very little expectations and I came out quite pleased. It is an oddly heartwarming story that doesn’t really focus on the relationships with the robots but between a father and his son. Sure, there is plenty of Robot beat down action to accommodate the action junkie but you can also take the entire family and have a good outing.

The CGI and animation are flawless, but that’s not the problem I have with the robots. They have no flavor. Most film robots have some form of personality that draws you to them and makes you cheer for them. These don’t. I mean Rocky had personality, even if it was like week old cabbage. How are you supposed to feel sympathy for Atom as he is getting pounded in the ring when he is just a soulless imitation of his owner? In fact, the only bot who did have personality was the robot at the beginning who gets torn apart by a bull.

Hugh Jackman is great in this, even when his accent is sliding all over the place. His transformation as the film progresses is nothing you haven’t seen before but is done well. Little Dakota Goyo is a joyous energy to watch as well. Admittedly, when I did get home I checked the web to check if the movie industry had cryogenically froze the kid from The Phantom Menace and unfroze him to use in this film. Then I remember that Goyo actually acted in this film and realized that it wasn’t possible. And Evangeline Lilly was great in the few scenes that she graced. As were the tiny performances from Anthony Mackie and Kevin Durand.

Real Steel was a real surprise. Take the family out to see it. And remember, those preteens talking loudly in the corner can be silenced simply by notifying theater staff.

Verdict: SEE IT!

*Rated PG-13 for some violence, intense action and brief language

Comments? Opinions? Leave them below.

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3 Responses to “I Saw A Film Today… Real Steel”

  1. Real Steel is a blast, an unabashed crowd-pleaser that mixes Rocky, Transformers, video games and father-son bonding to great, if corny, effect. Still didn’t need to be 127 minutes though. Nice review Kev.

    • Kevin Entrekin Says:

      I have to agree, I could have done without the last thirty minutes or so. Jackman just gets too syrupy at the end. Thanks Dan.

  2. Josh Mason Says:

    Agree with you completely on the going in with low expectations and coming out surprised with how good it was. The film worked because it was about the father/son story and the robots were treated as a subplot.

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