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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Rath's Reviews: Real Steel

Raise your hand if you thought that this movie looked incredibly stupid the first time you saw it? Keep your hand raised if it sounded to you like a movie about the popular Rock 'em Sock 'em Robot toys of yesteryear. Now...raise your hand if you would be surprised if I told you that the movie is not nearly as dumb as you might think, and actually highly entertaining. I'm guessing that most of you still have your hands up and truthfully I would too if I was you. I had pretty low expectations for this movie, but all in all it's an entertaining distraction.

Set in a future probably 10-15 years ahead of ours, human boxing has gone by the wayside, "There just isn't any money in it anymore." and the sport has been replaced with robotic creations in order to deliver more carnage. Robots lose arms, get split in half, decapitated, etc. Basically anything that would kill a human is why the sport switched over to robots. And the movie starts us out by introducing us to Charlie (Hugh Jackman playing what is frankly, a total d-bag). To make a long story short, he ends up having to take care of his kid from a past relationship and as so many father/son Hollywood films go, they become close. The kid actors in movies, Dakota Goyo who plays Jackman's son, Max in this case, are usually my least favorite part of movies, but he does a fair job here. Certainly not the worst that I have ever seen, but also not the best. I really just wish that one of these movies that has a part for a child would hire the kid who plays Manny Delgado in Modern Family...that kid is priceless. It was also nice to see Evangeline Lilly, now done with LOST, appear in the movie.

Practicing how to be constipated
The story's plot is nothing special, but there are some surprisingly dark tones. I kept having to remind myself that the movie was PG-13 and not PG which is what it seems like it should be. But the true star of the movie is the special effects. If you have seen Transformers, think those robots, but 1 vs. 1 and YOU CAN ACTUALLY TELL WHICH ROBOT IS WHICH. I was so surprised when I saw Dark of the Moon this summer that Michael Bay had not really gotten the hint yet that you cant distinguish between all of these robots on screen, beating each other up. In Real Steel, you can clearly tell what is happening at any given moment. See for yourself:

Clearly a blue robot on the left and a robot with a red mohawk on the right
The ability to distinguish between robots lends credit to two people in my opinion: Steven Spielberg and Sugar Ray Leonard. Spielberg allowed the director to know when things were getting confusing, and how to make each robot unique (for example, one robot has two heads) and the second lent his boxing prowess to the cast and special effects team to tell them what was realistic or not in terms of boxing. It shows that they had a professional on board in a number of scenes.
Sweet Judy Green Eyes

The thing about this movie that got me though, and it quite honestly knocked me like a punch from one of the robots, was my connection with the characters. The whole movie, I really didnt like the characters. Charlie is a d**k and Max is a brat. At this point I was watching the movie for the robot carnage. But I guess that somewhere inside of me, that changed because in the final fight there is a moment where I just got really emotional and was literally knocked for a loop when I realized that I actually cared for these characters and what happened to them. I still haven't quite decided if this is a good or bad quality of the film, but it was shocking to be tearing up at a freaking robot-boxing movie. God that last sentence sounds so dumb but it's true.

Falcon PUNCH!
But ultimately, I would not watch this movie again. It's one of those movies that is a fantastic one-time view, but it just does not intrigue me at all to see it a second time. I'm sure that everybody knows one of those movies, and Real Steel is certainly no movie that I would watch multiple times in a year. I say that if you have a couple extra bucks and a free day and were disappointed by Transformers this summer, check out Real Steel

Or go play Rock em' Sock em' Robots...

Pros:
  • Great special effects. The robots and their fights are really the star of the show
  • On that note...distinguishable robot fighting! It makes a whole lot of difference Michael Bay
  • Decent acting all around
  • I appreciated the "realism" in the fights with Sugar Ray's help. It makes the movie seem less goofy
  • Surprisingly emotional movie at the end. Or maybe that was just me...
Cons:
  • A one-time view movie; no reason I would watch it again
  • Some really stupid parts make you remember that this is a stupid premise for a movie
  • Child acting is sometimes awful
  • For 75% of the movie, the two main characters are highly unlikable, almost annoyingly so


Rath's Review Score: 7/10

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