“Real Steel”: Great effects clash with sappy and predictable storyline
If you are looking for a movie bloated with extremely loud, incomprehensible robot violence alternating with scenes of father son bonding, then this is the movie for you.
Director Shawn Levy, best known for his “Night at the Museum” series, takes a dip on the futuristic side with “Real Steel.” The film is based on the 1956 short story “Steel” by Richard Matheson and tells the tale of a world (set in 2020) where robots have replaced humans in boxing.
The movie opens with the story of Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman), a burnt-out boxing contender who goes from venue to venue with an old rusty robot, Noisy Boy, who has learned to take his commands but not to fight. He starts making underground bets with shady promoters and ends up not only losing fights but a top fight that costs him his robot, money and his reputation.
It is the introduction of his son Max (Dakota Goyo), where the movie starts to get sappy. Max’s mom dies, and according to Texas state law, the boy must be turned over to his dad. Charlie sees an opportunity to pawn off the boy to a family member then finds out they are rich. He makes a backroom deal with the rich step-uncle (James Rebhorn) to take the son for the summer for $50,000 and receive another $50,000 when they get back.
It is here an insipid father-son story transpires for the duration of the movie, as Max turns out to be a gamer-techie kid who is driven to take a low-tech “sparring bot” he finds buried in a treacherous landfill and turn it into a champion fighter. The movie becomes quite predictable with that relationship: father meets long lost son, father gets to know long lost son, father loves long lost son, and wants to be a father after all.
The saving grace for this movie were the fight scenes. The brutal force of robots clashing and sometimes decapitating each other bring us back to what real action is supposed to be. “Real Steel” fails though when we think of great fighting movies like “Rocky,” “Warrior” and “Over the Top.”
It is definitely the kind of movie you’d want to bring your friend to. The CGI effects are amazing. I can say between that and the fight scenes it makes it a fun film.
I tend to overanalyze films so take out the mushy second storyline and give me just the violence and mayhem and I would give this movie 4 out of 5 stars. However with a predictable storyline, I can only give this film 3 out of 5 stars.