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Review #247, Movie #318



Year Of Release

2011

Director/s

Shawn Levy

Producer/s

Shawn Levy, Susan Montford, Don Murphy

Writer/s

John Gatins, Dan Gilroy, Jeremy Levin, Richard Matheson

Music

Danny Elfman

Cast

Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, Olga Fonda, James Rebhorn and Kevin Durand

Synopsis:
Robots have replaced humans in blood sports, and in 2020 Charlie Kenton, an ex-boxer, is competing in the world of Robotic Fighting.
Charlie though is a bit of a loser. His robots suck, his judgement is almost non-existent and he’s in serious debt with various nasty-types.
He has a Son though, called Max… whom he never sees… and Max’s Mother has just died. Instead of trying to become a Father though, Charlie happily signs Max over to Max’s Aunt and her well-to-do Hubby for straight up cash.
Only, Aunty and Uncle are going on an expensive posh holiday and having a kid in tow would simply not do… so they leave Max and Charlie alone together for a few weeks… and Max, under the guidance of Charlie, comes across an old, beat-up, rusty and dented sparring-bot called ATOM.


Review:
I love this film.
I called it a guilty pleasure, but there’s no guilt in it at all. It’s simply, well… I love this film.
It’s a typical sort of feel good affair with one or two hits of peril occasionally, and it’s pretty predictable.
Put simply, this is like Rocky and Karate Kid, with a new theme of robots and gears getting knocked all over the boxing ring instead of blood and sweat.
Real Steel is fun, exciting, well-paced and even had me tear up during the finale.
What’s good with this movie is the writing. Sure, ok, it’s predictable… but the writing makes you care for the characters involved.
They’re funny, gritty at times, cross slightly into comic (especially Kevin Durand, in a good way though), and most of all they’re believeable.
It draws the viewer into the world around them, and makes the peril and laughter all the more enjoyable.
Another thing I liked, is the writing behind our lead robot, ATOM. Is he sentient? Isn’t he? Is he just shadowing? Are we reading too much into his autonomous behaviour?
Awesome stuff.
What backs the simplistic and well-done story, is the acting.
Hugh Jackman as Charlie is absolutely brilliant. Perfect as the rough, not-good Dad… and has the physicality that matches the ex-boxer character. Jackman’s natural charisma and at times machismo hold the viewer to the screen at all times. He’s faultless. And when the finale is underway, Jackman seriously outshines everyone else. You can see he’s having fun.
Dakota Goyo as Max too is perfect casting. Another actor you can really see enjoying himself and getting a massive high from all the attention the character is receiving. He’s also pretty apt with some of the physical stuff when he’s dancing in front of about 2000 people.
Goyo though holds the emotional side of things too. There are a few times he’s in tears, both good and bad, and he plays it brilliantly.
Evangeline Lilly as Charlie’s missus, Baily Tallet, is good if seldom seen, but she’s able to bring out a softer side to Jackman when seen together and her chemistry with Goyo is tops. She’s also an emotional heavyweight in the finale too.
The rest of the cast are more background characters, and Kevin Durand plays a slime ball who gets his comeuppance.
The effects and action of the movie are absolutely banging-top-drawer stuff.
The choreography of the fights it awesomely exciting and heart pounding. A lot of the excitement is from loving the characters, and having an connection to ATOM too, but it’s also a combination of things from the music (Danny Elfman going totally against type, in a good way), effects, choreography and style.
The final fight, especially when Jackman take the controls manually, is that part which had me in tears. The lead ups to this scene/sequence, with all the above successes in writing and so on, combined with the score, is almost touching and Jackman in those slow-mo shots… wow.
I’ve not seen CGI like this for a long time either. It’s very polished and extremely well finished. Some of the best going, by far.
A good thing with the action and effects is that they enhance the viewing, rather than blanket it.


All in all, a standard set of circumstances, set around a modern twist of robots and brilliant CGI effects and action.

Real Steel is so simple, and yet so already-seen-before in the scripting stakes… yet so connective between the viewer and the characters and their story… it actually makes the movie so much more than a basic CGI fest or actioner.

Good for all ages (though rated 12 in the UK). I highly recommend Real Steel, simply because of how much fun it is, how touching it is, the fantastic action and acting, with such a recognisable story.

A knockout.

"I want you to fight for me. That's all I ever wanted"

My Rating: 100%