Real Steel is a movie about beating the odds in the future, written by John Gatins, directed by Shawn Levy and based on the short story “Steel” by Richard Matheson. It stars Hugh Jackman (‘X-Men’, ‘The Prestige’, ‘Van Helsing’) as the former boxer and hard headed Charlie Kenton, Dakota Goyo (‘Thor’, ‘Happy Town’, ‘Resurrecting the Champ’) as his stubborn son Max Kenton, and Evangeline Lilly (‘Lost’, ‘The Hurt Locker’ and up in coming ‘The Hobbit’) as Bailey Tallet, Charlie’s former coach’s daughter.
The film takes place in 2020, when humans are no longer boxers because of the carnage people wanted to see in the ring, and robots have now taken their place. Charlie has found out that his ex-girlfriend has died and left him with a son, who he knew about, but left with her to pursue his robot boxing career. Rather than take custody of Max when he finds out about the death, he strikes a deal with the boy’s aunt to take him, agreeing to keep him through the summer while she and her husband are travelling. Charlie, desperate for money and not connected to his son whatsoever, strikes a side deal with the aunt’s wealthy husband behind her back offering custody of Max for some money.
Charlie takes the money and buys what appears to be a great investment in a new world class robot fighter named Noisy Boy. After destroying Noisy Boy in a headstrong move of a match, Max and Charlie look for pieces to put a robot together. After a scare, Max discovers Atom, a sparring bot. Max cleans him up and puts him together, and decides that even with the odds stacked against him and his father, he wants him to fight. Together they reprogram Atom to fight and before long Atom is winning underground matches and eventually gets noticed resulting in a chance to fight in league matches.
In action movies, there is a delicate balance of action and story. With this, I felt that there was too much story and not enough action. The story was nice, but it overpowered what should have been the focus with the robots. The story was heartwarming, as you would expect a Disney movie to be, but the glaring plot holes of the science behind the robots are hard to miss. Plus, I really wanted to understand how the robots worked, and how could one robot be stronger than the other, isn’t it more on the controller than the bot? I was disappointed with the lack of action. The points of action that they did have were great, they were energetic and had you on the edge of your seat. But I felt it needed to be more balanced with the story, and not so much as a “commercial break” feeling between story moments.
The story line itself was good though. Original, not exactly, but it was a decent story. You felt bad for Max, even if he was stubborn and annoying, and you really just wanted to punch Charlie for being such a jerk. I have a lot of history with boxing and fighting, and I really wanted to correct Charlie’s stance and posture, and how he punched (swivel those hips!)
I did not see the film in 3-D or in IMAX. I don’t think either effect would really make a difference in this film, it just didn’t need it. The story was interesting enough, the action compelling enough, that it really didn’t need any sort of additional effect to get you sucked in. You just wanted to stay sucked in with the action, which was unfortunately not enough.
If you’re a big “Fighter” movie fan like I am, this movie could be comparable to Rocky or even the recently released movie Warrior, as an underdog plot. Former boxers who want to continue their careers, or find a way to make a quick dollar. I think that if you were to put robots into either of those movies, I think you could actually see very close similarities. It makes for a good story, and you always cheer for the underdog.
I would give this movie a B-. Not the greatest, not the worst, a solid cast and a decent story, with great action. Aside from some mild cursing it’s ok for kids, although it is a bit long so if they don’t like to hold still for long periods of time you might want to wait for DVD. The run time is a little over 2 hours (127 minutes).
Did you see Real Steel this weekend? What did you think? Were you hoping for more action, or did you feel there was enough?