2 Comments

Real Steel

I have a question. Who are they marketing this shit towards? Kids? Then why would it feature a scene where a father is beat-up in front of his 11-year-old son over of a gambling debt? Adults? A film about boxing robots where the main one behaves like a loyal puppy? Maybe just white males of any age because the movie follows the Hollywood fantasy tradition of handsome caucasian men being the best boxers on the planet(see “Cinderella Man”, “The Fighter”, “The Champ”, any “Rocky” film—fiction or “non-fiction”, it doesn’t matter. In this world, Sugar Ray Robinson and Joe Louis never existed). Hugh Jackman inhabits that role here as Charlie Kenton—a former underachieving fighter who once came seconds away from defeating the world champion. But it’s now the near future of 2020, and people no longer punch for pay—machines do. Now Charlie is a down-on-his-luck owner of a boxing robot. One day he’s alerted that an ex-girlfriend has died. She was the mother of his young son, Max(Dakota Goyo…oh boy-o), who he barely knows. Max’s filthy rich aunt(Hope Davis)wants full custody, but only after a 3 month vacation she’s spending overseas with her husband(James Rebhorn). During that 90 day period she wants Charlie to care for Max. You see where this crap is going, right? Soon, Daddy and long-lost boy are travelling together with a boxing robot that they find in a junk heap. And with the support of Charlie’s gorgeous childhood friend, Bailey(Evangeline Lilly)—they train that robot for some big bouts. You see, Bailey runs a boxing gym(because that’s the kind of thing model-gorgeous 30-year-old white women do in 2020, I guess)that was left to her by her father—Charlie’s former trainer. And this junk-heap robot, named Atom, is programmed to perfectly mimic people’s moves…please tell me you know where this garbage is going as well. Blah-blah-blah, yadda-yadda-yadda, Atom unexpectedly wins a few big fights—and gets matched against the champion robot. But it’s the incredibly savvy Max that is pulling all the strings, and revving up the crowds like a pint-sized Muhammad Ali(not a second of it is convincing, btw). The champion robot is named Zeus, and he was designed by an Asian stereotype and is promoted by a Russian stereotype. And, of course, Zeus is damn-near indestructible. I know you see where this bilge is going. Insert underdog stereotype here. The only thing missing is Stallone.               Living legend Richard Matheson published “Steel” as a short story in 1956. It was filmed and broadcast(also under the title of “Steel”)in 1963 during the fifth, and final, season of “The Twilight Zone” television series. That half-hour format was the perfect running time for this particular tale. Back then, it was a simple story of machines replacing men and taking away their livelihoods. It starred Lee Marvin and there was not an annoyingly precocious little kid to be found. Ah, the good old days. In 2011, after changing the title to “Real Steel”, they juice it up with modern special effects(it was nominated at the 84th Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects—losing to “Hugo”), sap up the plot with some absentee father shenanigans, mirror “Rocky” almost scene-for-scene…and you gross about 300 million dollars at the worldwide box office. Un-freaking-believable. The script is sophomoric and laced with caricatures. There’s nothing at stake because you realize early on that nothing all that awful is going to happen. And every situation is predictable from roughly the distance of…let’s say outer space. It’s supposed to be heart-warming. It did, in fact, make my blood boil a bit. Somehow, the capable Hugh Jackman rises above this nonsense. He’s a solid performer who deserves better. Maybe 2012 will finally be his year as he will soon star as Jean Valjean in Tom Hooper’s film version of the Broadway musical, Les Miserables. And can we ease up on the “Rocky”-style fighting movies for a while? After things like “Real Steel” and “Warrior” in quick succession, even 3 or 4 months would be nice.        Grade:  D+             

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2 comments on “Real Steel

  1. I didn’t even see the movie and I want my money back!

  2. This was actually recommended to me by neighbors because of the boxing aspect, Brian. Some people don’t know me at all! Btw, I forgot to mention that the robot effects are pretty seamless. Amazing what you can do with a computer and some blue/green screen. ML

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