Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Real Steel Review

Hello again, Internet!

Real Steel has...real heart.  One wouldn't necessarily think that after hearing the premise:  In the future (around 2027) human boxers have been replaced by human-controlled (via a touch-screen controller) robot boxers.  The original story was written in 1956, called "Steel" and involved a similar premise.  This incarnation, however, wraps the robot boxing around themes of family, abandonment, and ultimately redemption...which is what makes this movie great.  The Transformers series offers giant, complex robots fighting one another with human counterparts standing by the wayside (of which the audience ultimately my care little about).  Real Steel too offers large (1,000+ lbs.) robots fighting one another, but there is an emotional core to the film that allows the audience to relate to the characters and experience their emotions along with them.

Grounded at the center of the film is the relationship between father (an always-great Hugh Jackman) and son (Dakota Goyo).  Abandoned by his father at birth, Dakota's Max has to learn to live with a father he has never met and isn't ready or willing to take care of him.  Max comes along for the ride and is thrown into the down-and-dirty world of underground robot boxing.  Their on-screen relationship develops, changes, and grows over the course of the film, to the point where you are really cheering in their corner by the end.  Evangeline Lilly (Lost's Kate) does a good job as Jackman's on-again-off-again girlfriend and landlord.  She's able to talk to and interact with Max in a way that Jackman's character can't and doesn't know how.

I was really quite impressed with the digital and practical effects used in Real Steel.  All of the robots we see on screen were actually built and were partially animatronic; if a robot was walking or fighting performance-capture (the same used in Avatar) was used to track the robot movements.  Everything else was practical.  There really is very little difference between practical and digital effects; the robots seem very real, and very powerful.  One can feel the intensity and strength of the mechanized punches being thrown; metal flies, fires break out, limbs are torn off.  There is a different type of brutality on display here, one that couldn't be seen in such fighting-centric films as The Fighter and Warrior.  In this future world, crowds want spectacle and utter destruction.  Robots allow for that to happen.

Real Steel is ultimately a feel-good, family story that happens to revolve around sweet robots fighting one another.  I really don't have much negative to say about Real Steel - just go check it out!

Real Steel is rad.


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