Real Steel Movie Review
I have been saying for months, ever since I saw the trailer, that I really wanted to see this film. My friends all, to a man or woman, laughed, saying it looked stupid and cheesy. However, I would counter, it is about ROBOTS BEATING THE HELL OUT OF EACH OTHER! How could that be any less than AWESOME?
Well, any number of ways. Fortunately this movie managed to avoid most of those pitfalls and works its way into what was an all around decent and super fun movie.
In the extremely large lexicon of toys I wish I had had as a kid but my dad was either too cheap, poor, or drunk to buy Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots ranked pretty high. Of course it is probably a good thing I didn’t get it, as it would have required me to have a friend to play it against. Still, pretty cool, and as a consequence I am fascinated by the idea of robots fighting. I used to watch Battle Bots, but after a while realized they were all the same robot designed to flip their opponents over, which honest got really boring after a while. I have long dreamed of seeing robots actually fight, and this film delivers. (Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em image courtesy of the nerd t shirts category)
The first sign that this movie was not going to suck occurred 30 minutes before it started when my best friend texted me the very interesteing fact that it was based on a story by Richard Matherson called Steel. He also wrote the great book I am Legend, which got made into movies two and a half times, the best being the Omega Man starring gun nut Charlton Heston (I am not going to talk about the horrible job they did with I am Legend, the Will Smith mutation). This got me even more jazzed than before and was happy when the film did not dissappoint.
The story itself is nothing original. Take any 80’s era underdog movie and substitute robots for humans and you pretty much have it. The Karate Kid, the Bad News Bears, and Rocky all seem to surface here. Rocky in particular they seem to borrow from heavily. But just because the story is not original does not mean it isn’t good, and is supported by some awesome acting, dialog, direction, and above all, big robots.
Hugh Jackman plays Charlie Kenton, an ex boxer who now operates and promotes fighting robots. His last robot gets wrecked by a bull (little weird there) and he is at rock bottom, owing a ton of money do different thugs and having no prospects. His ex girlfriend dies, leaving the his sons guardianship, Max Kenton (Dakota Goyo, a really good kid actor who has been in Thor, Resurrecting the Champ, and a movie that looks interesting called Defendor. Kind of a decent geek filmography for an 11 year old) in question. The story is a little complicated, but he manages to get the kids rich uncle to agree to pay him a ton of money to give him custody but in return Charlie has to keep the kid for the summer so they can do their romantic vacation to Italy. He uses the money to buy another robot, Noisy Boy, who gets his ass beat and killed in his first fight.
At that point things seem at an all time low, and Charlie and Max are left scavenging an old robot junk yard for parts to build a new bot. Max finds and recovers Atom, and old sparring bot that they bring back to the training hall/garage. He is a very old sparring robot but has a rare “shadow” function that allows him to mimic actions he sees humans do and integrate them into his fighting style. Charlie trains him and the story moves on from there. Robot battle hijinks ensues. At that point they are pretty much making Robot Rocky, so I won’t bore you with the details. Max and Charlie come to bond, the Atom surprises everyone, and you walk away feeling as good as you can about a robot film (which in my case is pretty damned good).
The stars. Fighting robots. Three stars. Great acting all around. Two stars. All of the robots looked unbelievably cool and bad ass. One star. The CGI and special effects seemed flawless. I really felt like there were 10 foot tall giants running around with the humans on the screen (I have more or less stopped giving stars for good special effects, as it is now kind of expected, but this was good enough for me to make an exception). One star. All the antagonists (Kevin Durand in particular) were pretty cool, and the whole subplot of Charlie owing him a ton of money added rather than detracted from the film. One star. The love interest (Evangeline Lilly-Lost, the Hurt Locker) was cute but not just a super hot eye candy bimbo that seems to litter the screen these days (cough cough Transformers cough cough), and can act. One star. The fight scenes were brutal and very cool, and due (I guess) to the fact that they were all CGI they didn’t have to do the lazy one second cut crap that bugs me in movie action so much these days. Very well choreographed. You can actually follow the action. Two stars. Did I already give stars for fighting robots? How about two more stars for an all around awesome movie experience. Total: thirteen stars.
The black holes. The overall story, while good, was kind of dopey and overall extremely derivative (that’s my polite way of saying copied from) of a bunch of other movies, especially Rocky. Not that it wasn’t a great movie experience, but still. One black hole. The scene where Max finds Atom was a level of suspension of disbelief that was completely out of tone for the entire rest of the movie. Everything else seemed really realistic (as realistic as fighting robots can be) but that whole sequence was just kind of silly. One black hole. The opening fight scene between Charlie’s first robot, Ambush, and a rodeo bull was kind of dumb, unnecessary, unrealistic, and had elements of animal cruelty that were a little off putting. One black hole. Total: three black holes.
So a grand total of 10 stars, and my high recommendation that you go see it on the biggest screen you can find. I am seriously considering seeing it again on iMax, and I never do that. Very, very fun. Don’t bother with a date on this one. She won’t get it, and odds are will see you as lame for being into it.
Kind of a short review, so I am going to share an observation I had. Before I started doing these reviews I would enjoy seeing trailers at the beginning of the films. Gave me a chance to pick out the movies I thought I would enjoy seeing in the future. However, now that I am pretty much seeing everything trailers are more like a cancer patient being given a schedule of his upcoming chemotherapy treatments. Some I look forward too, but a lot of them look like upcoming pain. On that note, if anyone has any idea how I can start to see movies prior to release please let me know. Do I contact the studios, or what? I’d like to have my reviews come out before their release, if possible.
Follow me or message me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Thanks for reading. I’ll probably see the Ides of March tomorrow. Talk to you soon.