Saturday, July 14, 2012

"Real Steel" Is Solid Entertainment

Real Steel (2011) is old fashioned, over the top, and predictable – and I enjoyed every minute of it. Our story takes place in the near future, where robots have replaced human fighters in the ring. The sport is more popular than ever, and there are a lot of underground fights with older model robots. Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) is a former fighter, now down on his luck. He takes whatever gigs his old robot can get. Shortly after the machine is destroyed in a showdown with a bull, Charlie learns his ex-girlfriend has died, and he has a son named Max. His ex-girlfriend’s family is willing to adopt the boy, and Charlie doesn’t want to be a Dad.

Through some well-worn plot twists, Charlie and Max end up together as he searches for a new fighter. They find an old sparring robot that’s literally on the junk heap, and turn him into a success. The robot, named Atom, has a shadow boxing function that allows Charlie to "train" him. Atom eventually gets a chance to fight against a souped up, Transformer-like champion named Zeus. It’s Rocky vs. Apollo Creed, sci-fi style, as Charlie tries to find redemption, forge a relationship with his son, and mend fences with his old friend/love interest Bailey, played by Evangeline Lilly of Lost fame. Jackman does a nice job in his role, torn between being a success & earning big money, and doing right by Max, who’s well played by Dakota Goyo.

There’s nothing ground-breaking in the screenplay by John Gatins, from a story by Dan Gilroy and Jeremy Leven (which is loosely based on a Richard Matheson short story called “Steel”), but this is a fun, fast-moving film with a good cast and nice direction by Shawn Levy (Night At The Museum, Date Night). The movie has a big heart & an emotional center to go along with its action & special effects. Motion capture technology was used for the robot fight scenes, and it’s very effective. Famed boxer Sugar Ray Leonard was the film’s technical advisor for the boxing scenes, and helped train Jackman for the movie.

The film’s portrayal of the robot-boxing world is very believable, with the fighters using WWE-like intro music, and having product placement deals and corporate sponsors. The special effects are very well done, and nicely integrated into the film, without being a distraction. The feel good finale tugs at every heartstring & emotion you have, and you’ll be cheering by the time the movie reaches its climax. There are lots of lesser films out there that aspire to be enjoyable on a popcorn level that aren’t even watchable. Real Steel is an entertaining, well-told story that’s worth a rental on movie night. The film is currently available on Blu-ray, DVD & in various digital download formats.

No comments:

Post a Comment