Monday, October 10, 2011

REVIEW: Real Steel

Real Steel

Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo


October 7, 2011

Shawn Levy

DreamWorks Pictures,
Touchstone Pictures (Disney)

2 hours 7 minutes



Damn, you just have to love Disney at this point right now. Not only have they been responsible for such movies as 'Toy Story' and 'Pirates of the Caribbean,' but they have also been very smart in terms of distribution rights this year. Sure their year started out poor when 'I Am Number Four' came out, but they still had Steven Spielberg and the DreamWorks crew on their side, releasing such films as 'The Help' and 'Fright Night' this past August. What's next up their sleeve you might ask, so here it is: 'Rocky' meets 'Wolverine' meets robots. It may sound very stupid at first, but 'Real Steel' somehow works around the cheesy premise to make an awesome action movie with the added bonus of a father/son relationship. (It's Disney, what do you expect) I had a fun time watching 'Real Steel,' and I believe that families everywhere will love it, despite its fair PG-13 rating. I would even recommend my Orthodox Jewish relatives to take my young cousins to see this movie. There may be language and some fairly intense fighting between the robots and (in one scene) humans, but I guarantee that this is a movie not to miss. 'Real Steel' is the best family movie out there, and without a doubt the best robot action flick of the year.

Charlie Kenton may be the biggest douche in the world. Sorry for the language, but it's the truth. Not only has he become greedy and obsessed with robot boxing, but he also abandoned his only son, now 11, and his ex-girlfriend, who is now dead. Now Charlie's son Max has to stay with him for the summer before papers are signed to give custody to Max's aunt and uncle. During a night of looking for robot pieces after losing an expensive battle, Max finds Atom, a second generation robot (this movie takes place in the year 2020, so second generation is from 2014) that is smaller than most robots fighting currently, yet can take a huge load of hits. Max seems to be the only person who has faith in Atom, so he gets daddy to train the bot, becoming an instant success. Robot battles and father/son issues make 'Real Steel' possible.

Hugh Jackman can either be really good or really crappy. In this movie, he plays a jerky jerk that has eyes shaped like dollar signs and a heart smaller than even the Grinch's. Despite having the growing urge to hate this guy throughout the two hour flick, you come to care for him in a weird way, because of how he bonds with the kid Max. Jackman gives it all he's got in this and for that; he is quite a fun character to see. Plus his fighting skills used for Atom look quite awesome. The young kid playing Jackman's son Max is quite excellent in this movie. Max is played by newcomer Dakota Goyo, and he is not afraid to do or say anything throughout. This kid is smart, witty, and potty mouthed. No f-bombs, but PG-13 potty mouthed (s**t, a**, etc.) is the way he goes. This is the character who tugs at the audience’s heart strings, and he does it flawlessly. The chemistry between Jackman and Goyo is a sweet yet dramatic side to the movie, giving the film the Disney vibe that it needs to have in order to succeed with its audience.

The supporting cast includes 'Lost' star Evangeline Lilly and Anthony Mackie from 'The Adjustment Bureau.' Lilly is a good presence as the obvious love interest to Jackman's character. She may be a clich├ęd role in the film, but she has a good screen presence and I enjoyed her for that. As for Mackie, he was just awesome in this movie. The role might not be as good as his role in 'Adjustment Bureau,' but it seemed that he had a very fun time making this movie, and I know that I had a fun time watching him play this sweet character. Overall, Spielberg and director Shawn Levy made very wise decisions in casting the characters in this fun movie.

As many know, I am a fan of Shawn Levy. His previous work includes the 'Night at the Museum' series and the Steve Carell/Tina Fey comedy 'Date Night.' I'm glad Levy was able to direct this movie, because not only does it give him control over the storyline, it also gives him control of a better advertisement campaign. When Levy worked with 20th Century Fox in the past few years, the advertising to his movies never quite gave the actual plot of the film, just the very broad details of the movie. An example with this idea is 'Date Night,' believe it or not. What you may thought was a film about a married couple getting involved with criminals was actually about a struggling marriage taking the ride of their lives when they are accused of possessing a flash drive holding crazy pictures of the D.A. of New York. Watch the trailer and you'll know what I mean. Getting back to 'Real Steel,' I loved how Levy was in some ways given freedom in terms of creativity. The fight scenes are effective and awesome, as well as emotionally charged scenes between father and son. If Levy continues on this smart path, he may be considered to be one of Hollywood's best family/comedy directors.

The robots look incredibly cool in this movie, especially during the kick ass fight scenes. You might not have known that some shots of the robots were animatronics, with the rest being CGI. I loved the fact that they went down this path because it gives the film a bit of a 80s feel. The action scenes with the robot not only look cool, but feel very cool in the metaphorical sense. The audience at my Sunday evening show was really into the robot scenes and was even cheering at the end of some of the battles. The last time I remember an audience being so into a movie that they were cheering during it was when I saw 'The Help' a month in advance, and boy was that audience into the flick. Forget Optimus Prime ladies and gentlemen, these robots carry much more emotion than the alien robots, and these bots don't even talk! (Wall-E could talk, so forget about it!)

We, the people are in a generation where movies feature non-stop product placement. 'Real Steel' is one of the many movies this year where product placement is everywhere in sight. My sister, who went with me to the movie acknowledged this in a highly negative way, finding it stupid and unnecessary. Personally, I was just counting the names and laughing my ass off at the same time! There is one scene involving Max, Atom, and lots of dancing. During that scene, you have three cans of Dr. Pepper (great soda, BTW) just shining in your face, with each logo clearly facing the camera on purpose. This is just the least of the product placement, as during the final battle between Atom and Zeus you see numerous logos such as Sprint, Coca Cola, and Xbox 720. (Get the joke there?) If this movie had been nothing but product placements throughout the battles, I would have had a stupid but very fun time pointing out all of the ads. Some people will dislike this movie. If you end up being one of these people, then see the movie a second time and just laugh at all of the stupid ads the movie presents to its audience.

Fighting robots, a cheesy script, and a sweet father/son relationship make 'Real Steel' a very fun movie to watch. The acting is good, the fighting looks awesome, and your heartstrings will be pulled at least once. Your family won't have anything to see for about three weeks, ('Puss in Boots' and 'Johnny English Reborn' come out on the 28th of October) so you may want to take them to see this sleek flick, despite its PG-13 rating. Kids will enjoy the robot fighting and the presence of Max, and parents will not only enjoy the film, but they'll enjoy seeing their kids try to box after you walk out of the theater. My sister is a very tough nut to get in to, so it was nice to see her enjoy this movie disguised as a boy’s movie. Little girls out there, there were females aged 15 and younger in the show I went to, so I have a strong feeling that this really is a movie for EVERYONE. I also want to point out that this movie was released in the IMAX format, so if you have the choice between the two versions, I'd say go to IMAX because of the kick ass robots fighting on the huge screens, plus the added sound of the fights and the film's music. So if you're looking for a fun robot flick with humor, heart, and something for everyone, then do yourself a huge favor and see the wrath of 'Real Steel.’



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