Movie Review: Real Steel!
Real Steel (2011)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lily, Dakota Goyo, Kevin Durand
Directed By: Shawn Levy
Yes, the “Rock ’em, Sock ’em Robots” movie. Seemingly the butt of everyone’s jokes since it’s first trailer was released, Real Steel is the Hugh Jackman robot-boxing movie that many think is a joke. However, I’m here to tell you that it’s actually a really good and effective film. Seriously! In many ways it’s kind of like a futuristic take on Rocky, in which an underdog comes out on top and goes farther than anyone ever believed he could. Also it has robots hitting each other in the head repeatedly. And Wolverine.
Hugh Jackman stars as Charlie, a former boxer who now tries to get by in the underground Robot Boxing world. With his glory days long behind him, Charlie is an unlikable loner, and the sleaziest character Jackman has ever played. When he learns that his son Max’s (Dakota Goyo) mother has died, he doesn’t even want to take custody of him! However, Max’s Aunt and Uncle agree to take him, but Charlie must watch over the child for the summer, as they are going away on a vacation. Oh, and Charlie is paid $100,000 to do it as well.
The movie then becomes a strange mix of a road movie, a father/son relationship movie, Transformers, and even a little bit of the Stallone classic Over The Top. And it works. Really well. Charlie and Max find a scrapper robot named Atom that would never be able to fight, but with a little help from Charlie’s landlord/lady Bailey (Lily), the two get the bot into the fighting ring and start winning matches. And of course, Charlie starts to learn that he does actually care about his son.
Real Steel is a movie that shouldn’t be as good as it is. It’s ridiculous, over the top, and very cheesy at times. But it all comes together so well that you wouldn’t even know it. The robot fighting scenes are shot so well that you start to get wrapped up in the fights as well. The last bout between Atom and Zeus, the robot Champion Of The Universe, had me on the edge of my seat, and I’ll admit, it was hard not to suppress a cheer whenever Atom was able to turn the fight in his favor. Director Shawn Levy (of Night At The Museum fame/infamy) does a commendable job here, and really set up the characters in a relatable way, even if their fates are boiled down to two robots beating the crap out of each other in a boxing ring. Real Steel won’t be winning any Academy Awards anytime soon, but it’s still a very solid trip to the multiplex, and a very pleasant surprise.
3 Robotic KO’s out of 4