Thursday, 13 October 2011

Real Steel (Shawn Levy, 2011) Review

Jackman’s a jackass but the boy and his ‘bot got real heart.

It’s commendable how much of an asshole a Hollywood star like Jackman is willing to play here.  Ok, so there are no points for guessing if Jackman’s down on his luck robot boxing promoter Charlie is going to change his ways by the end of the movie.  But for a good forty minutes of the film, you’ll probably find yourself wondering how the hell the director, screenwriter and star are going to make a single audience member give an ounce of sympathy for this most unsympathetic of schmuks.

But in good old Rocky style, you will undoubtedly be cheering on the underdog when it comes to the David vs Goliath robot boxing match that is the climax of the film. 

The central relationship between Charlie and his estranged son Max is believable as is the setting of the not-too distant or unfamiliar future.  Kids still have daddy issues (especially kids who have dads like Charlie) and all that seems to have changed is that robot boxing is the sport of the future.

The robots are a brilliantly seamless blend of puppetry and CG effects and when Max discovers a battered boxing droid discarded (as he once was by his own jackass dad), the plot kicks into motion.

It’s an enjoyable but predictable ride with Dakota Goyo impressive as the justifiably antsy kid.  Jackman carries the film with his detestable Dad and a surprisingly convincing character arc.  Lost’s ‘Freckles’ (Evangeline Lilly) is wasted in a very similar way to her recent cameo in The Hurt Locker.  She needs to find a new agent that won’t leave her cheering on the action from the side lines.

The robot fights are realistically rendered but it’s the father-son relationship that makes this film the real deal.  Great for families.  It’s out 14th October.