Real Steel – 127min – PG13
The trailers made me wonder if I wanted to see a movie based on Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots. My biggest fear was that it was going to be another CGI eye candy extravaganza. Well, I am pleased to say it was not. There is a lot more story than just the robots fighting. The effects were a compliment to the story and not the main reason for the movie. In the near future boxing is taken over by robots. People who once boxed are moved out for people who can use the robots to do the same kind of combat. With the robots doing battle the fights can become a fight to the death only without the death. The story is about a washed up old boxer who is struggling to make a living and also reconnect with his son. This is a green light film.
Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) is an old boxer who has adapted his skill to the robot boxing arena. He is joined by his son Max (Dakota Goyo) who recently lost his mother. Charlie is working out of an old style boxing gym turned robot repair shop run by Bailey (Evangeline Tilly). Together they find out more about each other and learn about themselves.
The best part about the journey is the transformation of Charlie. He starts out as a reprehensible character and one who has lost sight of himself. Through the journey he learns to become a boxer again and also to become a better man. Max is an excellent example of how much our children are like us and how they can reflect all of our best qualities. His drive to be the best and his faith in his robot are unshakable. He has the spirit his father had before life took its toll on him.
This movie has elements of some of the greatest Boxing movies. It has the underdog tenacity of Rocky. The robot Atom is overlooked and thought to be a pushover like the main character in Cinderella Man. It has the father and son connection like in The Champ. It has the violent brutality of open combat like Raging Bull. It’s kind of odd how the violence seems alright when it’s not humans fighting. This movie shows us robots losing limbs, crushed heads, and splattering of coolant, and brutal as it was, it all seems ok when it’s a robot. It was interesting to watch the audience cringe at the boxing scenes just as if they would at human boxing.
The effects were done well, there were no overly campy CGI effects and it all seems to work together well. The film makers infused a spirit into Atom that made you want to cheer for the little guy. This story was predictable in some parts but I am willing to overlook that because of the wonderful character development. Shawn Levy directed this film and has most of his background come for television work. He has done some comedies but I think his most notable for Night at the Museum. He is developing his art from the small screen to the big screen, and is showing progress. Keep it up Mr. Levy.
Spoilers warning!!!! Only members of the WRB beyond this point.!!!!!!
The best scene in the movie for me was when Max and Charlie are at the Zoo and they have just won the first round and max doubles down on the next round. Charlie pleads with Max, “I really need the money”, Max replies” I know, let’s get to work”. Good stuff.
Watching Ricky (Kevin Durand) get his come comeuppance we great, he plays a complete jerk in this film. He seems to do the heavy well, but I liked him as Little John in Robin Hood. He should think about expanding his role options.
Another memorable scene was in the final battle when Atom punks Zeus with that “come on, come on” gesture. That made me laugh out loud, it was a great humanistic gesture that gave the robot more likability.
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It was a wonderful ride that needs to be looked at for more than just its cool effects. If you were thinking about seeing this film, please do.