Sunday, October 9, 2011

Real Steel Review

I didn’t have any intention of seeing this film.  Things change though when you misread the show times for another film, in this case, The Ides Of March, and find out that there isn’t any movie you haven’t already seeing, outside of Dream House of course, which I just won’t see, except for Real Steel.  So you buy your ticket, overpay for the soda and sit down in the dark.

The trailers are always an interesting sign of what demographic Hollywood feels fits the feature.  In this case, Puss In Boots was first up, followed by One For The Money, Immortals, and Breaking Dawn Part I closed things off.  I really didn’t get any interesting insights from the trailers, except, after seeing the final trailer, I’m pretty confident the Twilight series will rebound from the last lackluster showings in a big way. 

Every time I viewed the Real Steel trailers, whether on television or on the big screen, I couldn’t get the image of Rock ‘em, Sock ‘em Robots out of my head.  The movie just looked bad.  Anyhow what’s done is done and cannot be undone.  The movie wasn’t very good, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

In a nutshell this film shows the fall of a professional boxer, his unlikely ascension into the world of robotic boxing and his rapidly deteriorating career and personal life.  He owes debts to everyone and their third sister-in-laws.  He’s a deadbeat dad.  He’s ruining anything that could be conceived as good in his life.  But more than anything he’s a desperate delusional, looking for a way back.

While the acting wasn’t anything to write about, and therefore I choose not to in any substantial detail, it should be said that the acting was a mixture of sloppy to melodramatic.  Really, the best acting done in the film was done by Atom, the old school robot Hugh Jackman’s character and his son found in a junkyard, then revitalized and trained for a boxing stint, and outside of the boxing itself, all Atom actually did was occasionally blink his, if you want to place gender on him, eyes a bit here and there.

There’s a few interesting reflections upon society in the film though.  In a pretty neat topical discussion on boxing, how the sport evolved from sparring to boxing to wrestling, to MMA and its offspring, and then eventually to this world of robotic boxing.  But outside of this pugilistic analysis, it also shows how the sport adapted out of necessity, which is integral to the survival of a species.  People hungered for more and more brutality, unstated but I’m assuming is somewhat related to the economical conditions drawing an eagerness for the mind to live vicariously through the battles in the ring, and eventually they wanted the type of destruction that human beings just couldn’t provide, thus birthing the sport, if you want to call it that, of robotic boxing.  The cultural and economical dearth is shown pretty prominently throughout the film, as, while set in the future, we see how so many underground robot leagues were seemingly everywhere, as people just needed to search for hope, and in so doing, as many often do, they turn to the illegal, and to gambling.  Outside of the potential monetary gains, it can be guessed that all people really were looking for was a distraction.  But I’ve begun to tangent my discussion away from the review at hand, therefore I shall return now.

The story is billed as an underdog story, which it is part.  Atom is a sparring bot that isn’t supposed to be able to compete with the big boys, and their sizes depict this very nicely, as far as a visual comparison can make that case.  This boxing underdog story is but the surface storyline. 

The real story is about a father who never even seemed to care about anyone outside of himself, and seemingly didn’t give two winks about the son he fathered.  You also have the son who, just losing his mother, and is being bought and sold by his family members, his rich aunt and husband being the buyers and his father the seller.  The boy isn’t happy about the turn of events and the position he’s been put in, but more than anything else, he’s distraught by the fact that his father doesn’t seem to care about him at all, and that’s really all he’s ever wanted, the love of a dad.

The story then continues by depicting their relationship and its evolution, going from bad to good as the film moves forward.  But unstated, each of these characters needed the other in more ways than a father and son relationship would imply.  The father needed the son to provide that spark to his career, rejuvenating his defeatist mentality, blossoming it into one of hope.  He also needed his son’s stubbornness and conflicting personality to draw a comparison to his own, primarily for the purpose of showing him what he really needs to do in life, take care of his own.  The son, as stated needs a father, he needs a winner.  The wants and desires of the two characters collide and then merge into one as the film finishes up, wrapped up by a feel good ending.

The story is rushed too quickly though.  It moves from point A to point B in an unrealistic fashion, although I guess you have to take it for what it is, after all it is a story set in the future revolving around the world of robotic boxing. 

Overall Real Steel has its metaphors and allusions and there are positives to take out of it, but more over it’s not a burden to sit through.  The boxing scenes are rather good and the sociological glimpse into a potential future is interesting as well.  If you do go and see this film, take it for what it is, and for what it’s not.  If possible just enjoy the break from your own problems and try to make the most of your experience.  Would I have seen this movie if it weren’t due to a miscue on my own part?  Probably not, but I’m not ruing the twelve dollars either.  The film, on most accounts and my own, was probably not worth the money I spent to see it, but there have been so many movies that were far worse.  So, I look at that money bought me a little over two hours of reprieve, which is never a bad thing.  Maybe never is too concrete, but I think my point is understood.


  1. Ah! Such a long read, interesting thoughts on the selection of trailers, I've noticed it too. I'm pretty sure I'll go see this, I like competition/sports movies, and you say it's not a burden to sit through, I don't really care for the story, in these kind of movies I'm looking for good action, I just hope it's not done lazily.

  2. It's not a burden to sit through, and there are some pretty good robot fight scenes, especially the last one. I wouldn't say it's lazily done, I think they tried, it's just that some of the acting just isn't there. Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it, if you check it out let me know what you think, thanks again