A little apprehensive at first, given the lacklustre trailer, I was pleasantly surprised by Real Steel. Right off the top I’m going to say it plays out like Rocky and The Wrestler and while others may point these out like it would be a bad thing I’d simply say those were good movies and if you’re going to steal you might as well steal from the best (think Quintin Tarantino and say it’s a homage to those works instead). The movie gets from the A to B of story telling without any detours or meandering turns. It maybe straightforward but it certainly is entertaining.
The movie about a washed up boxer living in the near future (only 8 years from now, mind you) world of robot boxing who’s reunited with his kid and takes an old clunker of a robot to the world boxing league is certainly packed with clichés and I’m here to say that’s fine. Although one bright and unique spot, which they did eventually lose out to the prerequisite that characters must be likeable, is that Jackman’s character sold his son making him unlikeable for all five seconds before you realise the man doing the selling is absolutely fucking gorgeous and you’d forgive him that one moral faux pas. Personally, I would have preferred if they had a Seinfeld approach to the movie and left Jackman’s moral-lacking-do-anything character the way he is till the end of the movie but I do see their dilemma, I mean you can’t have the hero, the guy we’re supposed to be rooting for, selling off all his sperm donations/biological relatives.
That been said the character that invoked the most emotion, for me, was Atom, the robot. Although in the universe of Real Steel robots are not sentient and do not have personalities I strangely find myself thinking that he does have one (if only expressed through his, oddly, soulful eyes) and that he’ll suddenly speak, spouting words of wisdom, but he doesn’t and as the movie ends the one lingering question is ‘was he sentient?’. A scene in which Atom is left in a room seated facing the mirror (I’d say staring but can you stare if you’re not sentient?) and a shot/reverse-shot of himself and his reflection, blue eyes glowing, was strangely the most emotional and interesting scene in the movie.
The biggest problem of this rather enjoyable movie was the trailer, it gave away too much information. We know that Jackman isn’t going to make it until he finds that old robot in the junkyard so the first twenty or so minutes play out like the Star Wars prequels only slightly more interesting.
Still, the movie was fun and walking out of the cinema I clearly wasn’t the only one that thought so. The fight scenes will set off the adrenal glands, the effects are great and there’s enough excitement injected into it to justify the A$17 you shell out for the ticket. However, we may have to wait to see whether the box office numbers will justify a sequel. I hope they do. Currently the movie is set to have an opening weekend just north of $25 million.