Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Friday, October 7, 2011

Real Steel

A Robotic Glass Jaw 

Director: Shawn Levy
Writers: John Gatins, Dan Gilroy, Jeremy Leven
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly, Kevin Durand, Anthony Mackie

SYNOPSIS: In the near future where robot boxing has become the predominant sport, a former top contender tries to rise to the top again from behind the joystick as a fighting robot jockey. Out of money and stuck with a son he never knew, he finds himself with a possible shot at the title.

REVIEW: Shawn Levy, director of the Night at the Museum movies and Date Night, ventures into somewhat new territory with a more action-oriented film involving Hugh Jackman and a bunch of slick rock 'em sock 'em robots bent of pulverizing each other in the squared circle. Based on a story by John Gatins (Coach Carter, Hard Ball), Dan Gilroy (Two for the Money), and Jeremy Leven (The Notebook, My Sister's Keeper), Real Steel brings with it the writing talent for sports dramas, conflict, and heart. But can a man looking for redemption behind the controls of a bag of bolts and gears make for a superior film? Let's find out!

In the near future where human boxing matches and mixed martial arts tournaments have been replaced by gigantic remote controlled fighting robots, Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) is a former small-time boxer trying to scratch out a living by finding fights wherever he can find them. Whether a Podunk county fair or an local urban venue, Kenton finds himself in the loss column on a downward spiral, without a working robot and with loans out from a multitude of unsavory characters, including former boxer and opponent Ricky (Kevin Durand, 3:10 to Yuma). Bailey Tallet (Evangeline Lilly, Lost), an intimate friend of Charlie's and daughter of the man who sent all of his energies on Charlie's boxing career, is on the verge of closing up her father's boxing gym and desperate to try and get Charlie to settle his debts and give up the non-sanctioned career as a robot jockey. While Charlie tries to drum up more money he finds out an old girlfriend had died, leaving him custody of a 11-year old son Max (Dakota Goyo)who he abandoned years earlier. Strapped for cash, Charlie scammed his girlfriend's sister Debra's (Hope Davis) husband Marvin (James Rebhorn) for $100,000 to keep the kid for the summer and fund another robot. Still unable to catch a break, Max and Charlie come across a sparring robot that Max brings back into working condition. Max then leads Charlie on a quest to get fights for Atom, eventually leading to a possible WRB league match against the massive and undefeated WRB champion Zeus.

Hugh Jackson is buff and charming as always. With a scruffy face and bulging biceps, Jackson is fun to watch, whether he is on the losing end of a small-town robot fight or trying to exude his charms on Bailiey in order to get more money or mechanical advise. Evangeline Lilly's Kate... I mean, Bailey, is tender and sweet, unable to resist what she feels for Jackson's Charlie, in spite of his glaring faults. Young Dakota Goyo plays Max, using his own puppy dog eyes to rope Charlie into pursuing seemingly impossible to win fights with Atom. Kevin Durand adds conflict and back story, his sharp features and perfect teeth like a shark as his character Ricky looks to get even with Charlie. Rounding out the cast is Anthony Mackie as bookmaker and fight promoter FInn, and the Zeus team with Karl Yune as the robotic engineer Tak Mashido and Olga Fonda as Zeus' financial backer. Even family and writers get into the action. Sophie, Tess and Charlie Levy cameo as young sisters at the county fair, interested in seeing a fighting robot up close. Writer John Gatins appears as the funny and unforgettable scene-stealer "Kingpin", the punk organizer and operator of abandoned zoo fighting champ Metro.

The robots, from Twin Cities to Atom to Zeus, have personalities of their own. From massive and burly nature of Zeus to the quiet and reserved underdog Atom, director Levy tries to make every metallic fighter a character in their own right. The director mixes practically built interactive robots with the CGI fighting, making better use of scenes between Jackman, Lilly, Goyo and their robots. All of the robots are slick, big, and realistically placed. Unfortunately, the bond between Max and Atom is cute, but not as strong and enduring as it could have been. The fight scenes are epic and cool, and anyone who does not reference a correlation to Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots was probably born later than 1990!

The reference to Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots aside, Real Steel is actually very loosely based on the 1956 story by Richard Matheson (What Dreams May Come, I Am Legend) called "Steel", a fiction story first published in Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and eventually translated into the teleplay "Steel" for The Twilight Zone. Both the story and Real Steel share a former boxer trying to pound out a living in a post-human boxing world with an aging fighting robot, unconsciously striving for redemption in the ring by living vicariously through their metallic counterparts. But where the mechanical failures of Battling Maxo in The Twilight Zone's "Steel" forces trainer played by Lee Marvin to get back in the ring himsef, Hugh Jackman's Charlie is able to stay ringside outside the squared circle for his chance at a comeback.

Entertaining and visually cool, Real Steel is a lesser mechanical version of Rocky with a little less heart. If Sylvester Stallone didn't utter a word or wasn't as endearing as an underdog, this may have been his fight!

WORTH: Matinee or DVD

1 comment:

  1. Did you say Hugh Jackman is Buff and Charming...I'm there lol. Thanks for the great review as always :)