Review By: Sean Stroub
A movie about boxing robots sounds like something that would come from the director of the Night at the Museum films, doesn’t it? It may seem incredibly corny, and the script is indeed filled with a plethora of clichés, but it is actually not as bad as you’d think. Sure you might find yourself laughing at the characters and their emotional connection to heaps of metal made strictly to destroy other heaps of metal, but eventually you’ll find yourself attached in a very similar way.
Real Steel follows a washed-up fighter named Charlie Kenton, played by Hugh Jackman who simply can do no wrong, in the year 2020, a high-tech time period when humans no longer face off in the ring. Taking their place are giant 2000-pound steel robots that operate under the control of their promoters. This is what Charlie finds himself doing nowadays, desperately seeking venues for his bot, and very unsuccessfully I might add. After losing yet another fight and watching his robot get obliterated, Charlie needs a way to get a hold of some money.
Then he learns that a girlfriend of his from over ten years ago, with whom he had a son named Max, has died. Charlie reluctantly allows Max (Dakota Goyo) to tag along to his matches. As stubborn as they both are, they learn a little something from each other as they train an old-fashioned robot together and grow closer in the process. Luckily for Charlie, they also make some money.
As I said, Jackman does everything he can with this movie and entertains throughout, but his character’s relationship with the child gets to be a bit annoying. He and Max bicker in a way that is supposed to show their similar attitudes and irritation towards each other, but sometimes it’s a little too much. And I hate to rip on child actors, but Dakota Goyo overacts in a way that instead of making the audience understand his troubles kind of makes us view him as a snobby kid. Evangeline Lilly also stars as Charlie’s love interest and all I can say is that it’s great to see her getting more work after Lost. She had a small role in The Hurt Locker, but other than that we haven’t seen much of her in motion pictures.
Now the film may make you roll your eyes every now and then, but along with a bunch of clichés comes the ending everyone looks for in a sports movie. So hold out for that. And if you do really enjoy the film, you simply can’t go wrong with the Blu-Ray + DVD combo pack. It has everything you could ask for in a movie whose most entertaining component is a group of huge Transformer-like robots (although with much more heart and gladly no ability to talk). Of course there are your standard special features
There’s one feature completely devoted to the main character entitled “Countdown To The Fight: The Charlie Kenton Story” as well as bonus content about the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard. Then there are some very interesting “Making Of” features. One focuses on the construction of the metal valley for the scene in which Max finds the robot Atom, while the other shows the crew building the bots. In that clip you’ll learn that executive producer Steven Spielberg recommended building robots to help the effects team make the graphics look as real as possible (he knows best from Jurassic Park), earning them a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects this year. And lastly, is if all of these features weren’t enough, the Blu-Ray/DVD collection also contains a way for the consumer to access Real Steel Second Screen, which allows you to explore exclusive interactive content on your computer or iPad. There is even a way to sync the Blu-Ray to your device as you watch the movie. That enough for ya? Everything is as technically advanced as the robots on the screen.
In conclusion, Real Steel is by no means an excellent movie, but it is quite entertaining if you don’t think too much about it and just let it all happen. “Check your brain at the door” as my father would say, but you should keep your heart there. For those of you who have already seen the movie and enjoyed it, but are now debating whether or not you need to add it to your Blu-Ray or DVD collection, I highly recommend you pick it up. The bounty of bonus features makes this a real steal.