Summer’s end is fast approaching, and soon the award season will take over your local cinema. Low and behold a movie arrives and tries to push the sun back into the sky and gives us one more summer blockbuster. Of course I am talking about Real Steel, and while its status as a blockbuster is yet to be seen, this movie definitely fulfills the role of a summer movie.
Many people I know have already referred to Real Steel as the “Rock’em Sock’em Robots” movie, and while this isn’t far from the truth, the story does have a little more meat. To fulfill the people’s constant desire for destruction and violence, robot fighting was developed. The casualties of the ultra-popular new sport, besides the losing robots, are the human fighters who once thrived. In walks our star, a washed up boxer and now failing owner of a robot fighter, Charlie Kenton (Jackman). Charlie finds out that a girl he knocked up has recently died, and that he must assume responsibility for his young son, Max.
First, let’s talk about what is wrong with this movie. My biggest complaint is that a movie about fighting robots shouldn’t be 127 minutes long. I don’t care if you are trying to develop a story; a movie of this ilk overstays its welcome around 100 minutes. Next, we have not yet developed the ability to insert the fine acting chops of Daniel Day Lewis into a child, so instead we have to watch inexperienced children on screen, and while this is a sometimes fine, there are other times when it is annoying as hell. Still my complaints are meager at best.
Real Steel is fun - not amazing, not life changing, but fun. The effects are impressive and the fight scenes are exciting. The heavy lifting done in this film is achieved Hugh Jackman, as a broken man looking for redemption not only for his child but also for himself. While the movie becomes cliché in a few places, it also manages to sidestep many of the Hollywood trappings. In the end the story feels inspired more by Rocky than Transformers.
What I was most surprised by in Real Steel was how beautiful it was to watch. The movie plays like a love letter to America. In following Kenton from small town fairs to big city fights, every location is thick with color and gives off an entirely classic feel to a film driven by technology. While the story hints at a handful of things that man lost with the advancement of technology, the cinematography shows us a world that, while still in existence, seems to be fading from our memories.
As I am writing this piece, Rottentomatoes.com has yet to post a single review yet for Real Steel. I don’t know how the reviews will turn out when everything is said and done. I am grateful that I was able to watch and enjoy this movie before too many people told me that I shouldn’t. I can’t guarantee that you will like Real Steel, but maybe, if you let it, Real Steel could surprise you.
Written by Drew Martin