Friday, February 3, 2012

Real Steel (2011)

Real Steel (2011)
Rated PG-13
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Dakota Goyo
Directed by: Shawn Levy
Tagline: Courage is stronger than steel.
Running time: 127 Minutes

Nominated for 1 Oscar: Best Visual Effects

Quick summary: In the year 2020, the world is taken by storm by robot boxing, former boxer and down on his luck promoter Charlie Kenton is forced to re-connect with his 11 year old son. Together they reconnect while finding and training a discarded boxing robot and ride his meteoric rise to the top.

My initial thoughts the first time I saw this movie were much like everyone else: “They’re making a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots movie?” And that’s exactly what the trailer made this movie look like. I immediately had no desire to watch it, because I remembered the toy from my childhood, and remembered losing interest after five seconds. But I had heard some pretty good reviews of it, so I figured I’d at least give it a whirl.

After watching it, my initial concerns about its Rock ‘em Sock ‘em vibe were realized, except way cooler. The toy looked cheap and plastic (because it was), but the movie looks slick and awesome, with some really excellent special effects. The fighting robots didn’t look fake, or stupid, but cool. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a very good movie, it just looked good. Moving aside the special effects, you’re left with a very formulaic and pretty boring father-son redemption story. The boxing scenes were awesome, which is always the best part of boxing movies, but unlike most great boxing movies, the story didn’t hold up.

The setting for the film, a not-too-distant future of 2020, would have been better had they taken an effort to advance society a little bit further. Yes, they had sophisticated remote control, and voice controlled, 8-foot tall fighting robots, and computers and cell phones are some sort of clear touch device, but the rest of society is pretty much exactly the same as 2010. People drive around in mid-2000’s Ford Tauruses, Dr. Pepper cans look exactly the same, people still go to crappy local fairs, people are totally ok with robots punching bulls in the face, and we’re still dependant on gas, though we’ve installed more windmills, so that’s a plus. Yes, fighting robots are cool, but couldn’t we use that technology for something far more important than just entertainment? If that’s our future, count me out. I mean, I’d probably watch a robot fight or two, but I’d move on pretty quickly. I mean, I haven’t sat down to watch an actual boxing match ever, so I don’t think replacing people with robots is going to help much.

Real Steel turned out to be better than I was expecting, but that’s not really saying a whole lot since I was expecting a live action/CGI movie about an outdated 80’s toy.
2.5 out of 5 stars

Worse than Avatar

The Trailer: 

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