Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Real Steel

Real Steel:
I spent this whole movie waiting for a head to pop up and spin around..
..also I've still not forgiven Hugh Jackman for Wolverine.

I must admit, I was rather confused and abit unsettled when i first heard the premise of this film, honestly, it had made me think that someone in Hollywood was trying to get as much mileage as they could out of Hugh Jackman's at times questionable and shaky starpower as fast as they could before we sent him back to the merry old land of oz where he can be forgotten about and become a footnote, like so much Paul Hogan, Russel Crowe and Eric Bana before him, but instead of sharing the same fate as those once well known aussie chaps, Jackman pulls a sort of Mel Gibson in The Beaver, where just when you think he's done, after a string of failed movies and semi spotty PR related moments, he pulls a pretty amazing rabbit out of his hat or wherever he keeps rabbits, because lets face it, these days, even dirty magicians get work, and those rabbits could be hidden anywhere. Its a rather neat trick really, not one that should be done often in life mind you, but, one thats just brilliant enough to work at the right time under the right conditions. I say this because lets face it, after the atomic sized bomb that was Wolverine, and being able to shake the horrible and rightly canceled tv series Viva Laughton!, and really only being able to get any kind of respect for his stage work, Hugh Jackman really needed himself a winner, and though its got its flaws and pitfalls, and probably didn't do as much as most would have hoped at the box office, Real Steel might have been just enough to save Jackman from having to click his heels and wish there was no place like home just yet.

Real Steel is, for a quick explanation, basically Rock'um Sock'um Robots meets Pokemon, no seriously thats basically what it is. See, it takes place about 20 or so years in our future, just far enough to see tech advance beyond what we've got, and close enough so they didn't need to build space age background cars and stuff, and in this future, the "human element" has been taken out of the sport of boxing, which has made it the most popular sport in the world, bigger than even Soccer and Midget tossing, as hard to believe as that is. Each robot boxer is operated by a trainer, who basically just operates a giant video game controller/iPad looking thing thats got all their preset moves on it, thus basically making it a sport of who can build the best robot with the best combination of moves, thus making it devoid of the human element that makes boxing so great of a sport to watch and to make films about. But what it lacks in the allure and mystique of other films centered around the sweet science, Real Steel makes up for with a mix of mysterious allure to a world of what is basically robot fight club and not one, but two underdog stories, one being the story of Atom, the out of date junkyard discovered by accident robot with the rarest function of all a "shadow function" meaning it can learn and mimic move for move whatever the person its looking at is doing, and the story of Charlie Kenton and his son Max Kenton, Charlie is a former boxer from before robots took over the sport, he's become a trainer is isn't exactly good at it, he's down on his luck when he discovers that his former girlfriend, and mother of his only son, Max, had died. And through a series of events, Charlie and Max end up spending a summer together, where in they discover Atom, take him on the robot fighting circuit, and bond along the way as they both rediscover just who Charlie Kenton used to be, and who he'll be again. Its abit formula and cliche by some standards, but as with any trope like this, when its done right, its done right and is enjoyable, Real Steel does it right, and it is enjoyable, its never gonna be one of those movies that changes your life, well, unless you're inspired to create an entire robot boxing league, then I guess it will, but still, its a fun 2 hour ride that shouldn't leave you wondering why you bothered at all.

Now that you've had the good, its time ofcourse, for the bad. There isn't an incredibly large amount of bad, its mostly glaringly obvious things that are easy to point out and leave people wanting for more to make the film abit more rounded. There could be alot more in the explaining the origin of robot boxing, maybe abit of a flashback sort of cut away scene showing the evolution from a robot boxing a human, to full on bot on bot action, going into more detail then just "people wanted a real bloodsport instead of technical boxing" sort of half assed four or five line explanation of the whole industry, I'd have also liked to see the story of Charlie's finest moment in the boxing ring acted out over narration instead of just telling the story while holding the article, and I'd have liked to see more bot on bot boxing, the movie is about robotic boxing, but there is very little robot boxing involved at all, that doesn't really sit well with me, it doesn't really bring the drama to the few fight scenes you do see, you see a montague but thats it, no real build up seeing Charlie and Max bond, or seeing more then small bits of them both training Atom, just little things like that, things that make it a well rounded story and gives you more depth and emotion, its kind of the same problem i had with the film "Larry Crowe" as well, just barely missing the mark of awesome by means of just abit of over editing, but again, that doesn't make it a bad movie, it just really leaves you wanting more, maybe enough to get hit on the side of the head with a soup ladle all orphan styley, you know, if you're so inclined, or you know, into getting hit on the head with a soup ladle like you're in a Dickens novel, either way, whatever floats your boat, personaly, water floats mine, but I'm weird.

So the big question now, is Real Steel worth watching? Well, yes and no, if you don't mind a film where you just sit back and enjoy the not to hard to follow story and just enough action to keep your mind interested in whats going on, then yes, most definitely its worth going to see. But, if you're not up for a movie that'll really leave you wanting and wondering about the gaps and barely mentioned bits that should have been in the film, then no, its definitely not worth your time. Over all though the film was rather good, or as good as films get these days, with to much thought and prep put into the big blockbusters and the awards fodder, movies like this tend to get overshadowed, and that doesn't make them bad, just, less of what they could be. But honestly, regardless of all its faults, you should give Real Steel a shot, you shouldn't be let down.