Real Steel is a futuristic pick-me-up film set during a time where human boxing has been replaced by robot boxing and although set in the future, the plot is very much a blast from the past.
It resembles a combination of Rocky and Transformers, I was very surprised as to how good it was.
From the previews, Real Steel seemed childish and insignificant; just another movie for kids and their dreams of controlling and fighting with one ton robots. But as the film progresses, it ranks fairly high on my checklist for a good film.
It has good characters, and they actually mean something to each other. It has well-balances action sequences, good conflict and above-average acting. The relationships between the characters are believable. Most films of this genre just focus on action to keep the film going, yet Real Steel focuses on the characters, and the action seamlessly follows (as it should).
Directed by “Night at the Museum” creator Shawn Levy, Real Steal is emotional, action-pact and uplifting. Hugh Jackman (X-Men Series) stars as Charlie Kenton, a has-been boxer turned desperate robot boxing promoter. As a result of his stubbornness and impatience, Kenton has established a bad reputation as a guy who borrows money without repaying. He is someone who lives in the past and rarely thinks about the present and future.
The film opens with a look into the sport of robot boxing. I assumed before watching this that these robots would be rinky-dink piles of scrap metal…well I was wrong. Instead, they are these huge masses of intimidating forged steal and circus weighing over a ton each.
They still, however, look like a Transformers-style menagerie of used car parts mixed with human like properties such as jaws and eyes. But they are still cool. Director Levy does a very good job with the choreography during these boxing matches. As seen in the later parts of the film, they are expertly crafted with an adrenaline-pumping and emotional end result.
As stated above, Real Steel seems to be geared towards the younger crowd, yet it has so many ingredients of an adult film. An example being the relationship between Charlie Kenton and his son, Max (Dakota Goyo).
Not only does this relationship represent the main conflict, but it one you would not expect to see from an adult and an 11-year-old. I’m guessing (not clearly explained in the film) that Max is the result from a knock-up and that Charlie, upon hearing this, took up the absentee father role.
The two characters have so much pent up anger between each other, you can almost feel the tension. To get a better understanding of how Charlie is – he essentially sells the custody rights of Max to get money for another robot that, because of the enormous chances he takes, get annihilated.
Charlie also owes large sums of money to his landlord/childhood friend/possible (again not clear) love interest, Bailey (played by Evangeline Lilly) as well as various loan sharks. All these things will haunt in the end, as you will see.
As the story progresses, Charlie is forced to have Max in his life and pursuit his robot boxing success. The two characters have such similar personality traits – stubbornness, anger, immaturity, arrogance – that they have a natural clash. But this, as i predicted, does not last very long. What starts out as a hate relationship, ends with love and a father-son bond.
This all channels into my “this is not a kids movie” argument. But this does not make it a bad movie, just one that has a small identity crisis. Even the heavy Eminem/R&B influenced soundtrack confused me. It was something I did not expect to hear, but in a way it works.
The remainder of the film shows how these two characters can balance each other out and create happiness. The film was very good at showing character progression, among other things. It was overall a good film. I would recommend seeing it if you have the chance – it makes you feel good and I can image, makes you look at your kids in a different light.
It’s amazing how the bond between two people can change their entire outlook on life. Kenton’s character changes drastically from a low-life, hustling, wake-up-and-have-a-beer scumbag to a decent father. The only issue with this change is the motivation for it.
The controversial idea of “money buying happiness,” may apply here. It is only after the duo start making money from the robot boxing that they start developing a bond. If they were unsuccessful, would anything have changed?