Now Playing: Real Steel
Topic: Movie Reviews
Let's get a few things out of the way first before I lodge into my review of the latest Hugh Jackman flick “Real Steel.” If you are a regular reader of this blog or of anything I ever posted on the internet over the past ten years, then you know that I love Hugh Jackman. Although there's a 50-50 chance that a Hugh Jackman film will be good, Hugh, himself is always charismatic and fun to watch on film. He never phones it in. Second, yes “Real Steel” is reminiscent of the 1980s toy "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots," which I desperately wanted to own.
Thirdly, lets acknowledge that we are all in the electronic artificial intelligence age and that we are more slaves to our computers than ever, and that we are selling humankind up a mechanic river filled with chips, metal, and plastic.
Finally, let’s also acknowledge that we are bloodthirsty creatures. From the ancient times, we liked gladiator matches. We, as humans, like watching UFC, football, boxin, WWE, etc. We like watching a good beat down, which is probably why people pull out there phones to video record fights before they call the police. “Real Steel” doesn’t acknowledge any of those personality quirks of humankind, because it isn’t that type of movie. “Real Steel” is not a morality play about humans becoming as cold as the technology we carry or why we enjoy blood sport. It is a feel good movie that both older children, teens, and parents can enjoy together. It is a family film where we root for the underdog.
Charlie (Hugh Jackman) is a washed up human boxer turned robot boxer, who trolls scrap yards looking for pieces to create a great robot boxer to pull him out of his poverty-ridden existence. Even when Charlie discovers he has an 11-year-old son, Max, he still chases after the dollar with horrible circumstances until Max discovers an old robot that can take a ticking and keep on licking. Even better, it can be taught to fight because it shadows the moves of anything in front of it. From this point, the movie begins its upward trajectory. The junkyard dog robot Max discovers, Atom, moves up the ranks until it is given a championship match. Charlie and Max bond over boxing, cans of Dr. Pepper, and training Atom. You know where this story is going (actually not all of it because the ending is a bit of a surprise), and it is a pleasing ride.
The robot animatronics is awesome. Whoever worked on the robotics on this movie should takeover the Transformers franchise. They made the most clunky robot boxer graceful and light on their 2 ton feet. The boxing matches are engaging. The audience I saw it with was as hooked as I was. They were shouting at the screen; mirroring the punches; grimacing with each body blow; and clapping after each victory. Even better, Hugh Jackman and Dakota Goyo (who plays Max) are just engaging on screen as their metal counterparts. The little boy has attitude, moxie, street smarts, and just enough moppet to not him appear as a pint-size asshole. The same could be said for Jackman. His character is a totally jerk, but he gives him just enough tenderness that we forgive him for being an absentee dad.
The kinetic and mostly urban soundtrack add to making the audience hyper. Tracks by Timbaland, 50-Cent, and Eminem feature prominently in the movie and adds to the grittiness of underground robot boxing as well as underscoring the hungriness of Charlie, Max and Atom to win.
You will not waste your money seeing this crowd-pleaser especially if you go with your tween-age kids or younger. (There was a little boy in my audience, no more than 4 years old, who shouted out that he wanted to be a robot. Too cute.)
Real Steel Soundtrack on @Spotify