Saturday, October 15, 2011

Real Steel

For a sport that has become as toxic and tainted as a landfill, the sport of boxing spawns some of the best sports flicks.  Rocky, The Champ, Raging Bull, Ali, Cinderella Man, and The Fighter are just a few rousing pugilistic films that are worth a viewer’s time.

A futuristic film about a boxing robot with a heart like a human champion seems like a good fit in today’s Hollywood that often grasps at straws.  It is an original take on an old genre, at least original as far as movies go.  I have been referring to Real Steel as that rock ‘em, sock ‘em robot movie since I first witnessed the previews.

Luckily, the movie was about more than metal punching bags.  Hugh Jackman was at his charming best and young Dakota Goya was perfect as the human hero.  Goyo was terrific as the precocious pre-teen, a kid who was funny as long as long he wasn’t your child talking to you like Goyo’s Max character talked to his father.  Hopefully, though, you have earned more respect than Jackman’s Charlie had earned from Max.  As much as this was a story of giant, metal boxers, it was even more about the personal redemption of Charlie, as he worked to earn his son’s love and respect, as well as his own self respect.

Director Shawn Levy kept the storyline simple and straightforward.  It didn’t have any twists or turns.  Unpredictability in this case would have been a detriment to this film.  This is a movie people go see to feel good.  They want to cheer for man and machine.  Levy never tried to do too much and less was more.  That being said, the video game boxing matches seemed relatively life-like and were a lot of fun to watch. 

Audiences flock to this movie for sheer entertainment purposes and it doesn’t disappoint.  I pulled for the heroes, both human and robot.  I cheered as I ducked and moved, as my shoulders tucked and twisted with every punch.  It was fun!  I’ve watched some movies lately that I wanted to be “good” movies.  I expected them to be award worthy.  I wanted Real Steel to be fun, and it delivered wholeheartedly.  It won’t win any statuettes but I don’t care a lick.

This film is rated PG-13 but most of the violence is machine on machine.  There was one brief scene where human violence was highlighted but it was not dragged on too long.  There is some mildly adult language but nothing you can’t hear on USA Network.  My 12-year old son had blast and I wouldn’t hesitate to take a younger child, especially boys.

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