Movie Review: Real Steel (2011)

DreamWorks Pictures’ latest release, Real Steel, is  a gritty, metal-knuckle punching flick set in the near future. It is based in part from the short story ‘Steel’ from sci-fi master, Richard Matheson.

Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) is a washed-up boxer who, because his sport has been taken over by 8-foot steel robots, now lives in a world where his skills no longer belong. With no fights and no prospects, Charlie is forced to hustle as a small-time robot fight promoter. He earns just enough money to survive by mashing up low-end “bots” and traveling from one seamy underground boxing venue to the next for whatever prizefight he can wrangle for his automatons. Just when things can’t become any more desperate and complicated, his estranged, tough-beyond-his-years son Max (Dakota Goyo) suddenly and unwillingly appears in his life. The unlikely duo reluctantly team up to rebuild, reprogram and train a scrap-heap sparring robot and turn it into a boxing contender. As stakes in the brutal, no-holds-barred fighting arenas are raised, against all odds Charlie gets one last shot at a comeback and be a real father.

Cumi’s little say..

Some of biggest most recognizable Hollywood names are behind this metal crunching movie – Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, Danny Elfman, Shawen Levy and Hugh Jackman – they even have Sugar Ray Leonard as a boxing consultant. So can this movie hold up to the fame culminated from each one of these big guns? Not all movies with big names do well in the box office or under my peculiar scrutiny. I walked in to the cinema with the usual expectation for a good Hugh Jackman movie although he did have some disappointing ones eg. X-Men Origins: Wolverine.. maybe it’s just me, but there’s always that risk of disappointment.  Well then, this time round, when I walked out, I actually felt extremely good for being so well entertained. This has got to be, one of the most entertaining Hollywood movies I’ve watched this year. Just over 2 hours long, this movie never felt dull for a moment. Solid performances from slick Mr. Jackman, Evangeline Lilly (She’s gorgeous in this movie!) and newcomer, Dakota Goyo (Big things gonna happen for this kid.. I can feel it).

Real Steel is a feel good movie. It is an inspiring and thrilling roller-coaster ride of drama, comedy, suspense, action and great animation and robotics. Dreamworks Pictures certainly lived up to its reputation with this one. Generally Hollywood films tend to get a little over-the-top in many departments but the director, Shawn Levy (famous for Date Night and Night at the Museum) managed to keep it within acceptable levels in my opinion. I couldn’t find much fault with it. The director tied up the plot and the loose ends well. The focus had been on the screenplay, script and actors’ performances. There’s plenty of action made with robots, animation and motion graphics as well but the director made a good decision to not let the technology get in the way of real people performance which I think is an underlying message from the movie itself. The only little irritation came in the form of the female antagonist, Farra Lemkot played by Olga Fonda. She was the weakest link amongst all the actors. As attractive as she is, I found her Russian accent a little too exaggerated.. even for an American actress born and raised in Russia.

Should you watch it? Should you watch it with your kids? Should you kidnap your niece and nephews to watch it? Yes, definitely on the big screen.

I’m gonna go blow the dust off my old japanese robot toys now..

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