Posted by Mark Bridge On October - 10 - 2011 1 Comment

Its safe to say that Real Steel was the most fun I have had at the cinemas this year.  There have been great releases this year but none made feel a sense of joy as when I was watching this film.

Real Steel takes place in the not too distant future where human boxing is now replaced by ‘Rock-em Sock-em’ giant robots.  Hugh Jackman play Charlie Kenton, a former boxer turned robot manager.  Charlie’s ex-girlfriend dies leaving behind their 11 year old son Max, played by Dakota Goya.  Charlie’s former sister-in-law (Hope Davis) and her wealthy husband (James Rebhorn), are willing to adopt Max.  An arrangement is made where Charlie has to keep Max for the summer before completely giving him up.  Charlie and Max’s relationship are strained to say the least.  Also in Charlies life is Bailey (Lost’s Evangeline Lilly), a former flame who he runs the boxing gym with.

Charlie doesn’t seem to have much luck with his robots,  one getting crushed by an actual bull, the other getting pummeled from Charlie’s lack of experience with the new Tech.  These two battle scene were thrilling, and at that point I new the film had me.  Charlie and Max were out one night looking for spare parts when Max stumbles upon a Generation 2 Sparring robot who he names Atom.  Against Charlie’s warning, Max persuades him to put Atom in a fight.  And so begins and adventure that would change the course of Charlie and Max’s relationship.

The robot fights (choreographed by boxer, Sugar Ray Leanard) were executed well.  You could see exactly what was going on during the action sequences, unlike other films that feature giant metal machines duking it out.  Truth be told, this isn’t a story you haven’t scene before.  From Rocky, Over the Top and countless other, Real Steel manages to cull the best parts of those movies and bring a little sci-fi in the mix.  A part that could have been a real cheesefest was Max and Atom’s dancing sequences.  I found myself looking forward to them at the beginning of the fights.  And speaking of dancing, the soundtrack was amazing and flowed very well with the film in its entirety.

I only had two sore points in the film.  The first one involving a shady promoter played by Kevin Durand.  Without giving too much away, Charlie ends up owing this promoter some money.  I felt the scene in which they used towards the end to wrap up that storyline felt a bit forced.  Its as if the filmmakers felt that we would be satisfied unless some justice was done to that character.  I think should have let the character did what he did and disappear for the rest of the film because in essence, that’s not what the film was about.  The second point may not be the fault of the filmmakers but the theater that I saw the film in.  The volume of the film was really ear burstingly loud.  It was one of those where I had to pay a premium price for excellent picture and sound, but sound sometimes became a distraction.

But for the most part the film was enjoyable from start to finish.  It had believable characters that paid off emotionally at the end.  I say if you cant make a film that challenges the intellect, at least make it fun.  This film succeeds in doing that in spades.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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