Starring: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Dakota Goyo, Anthony Mackie
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed By: Shawn Levy
Written By: John Gatins
Rocky with robots would have been the pitch for this robot enthusiastic movie, and that is certainly what it is. The film is set in 2020 where boxing has been replaced with robots beating hell out of each which are controlled by humans. Hugh Jackman plays Charlie, who is a former boxer now attempting to find a way to making money in this new robotic sport. Unfortunately for Charlie though he is constantly failing in his goal and his robots are being smashed up by either other robots or rodeo bulls. His other trouble is his arrogance in that he keeps gambling his make believe money on fights he believes he will win but ends up losing, meaning he owes lots of people lots of money.
After hearing the news of a former partner's death he learns that he has a son who he must now care for. A son that he instantly sells to a former relative for money towards his next robot, the only catch is he has to look after the boy for the summer as his new parents are off across the World. Charlie continues on with his life despite the interference of his new son, and once again continues to lose his robots, up until his son becomes his lucky charm and finds a robot buried in a scrap yard. This robot was generally used as a training machine but the now Father and Son team begin to train the robot and slowly begin to rise through the ranks to the major leagues of the robot boxing world.
As you can tell this is definitely Rocky with robots. The underdog will rise through the ranks, he will get his title shot, he will be the people's champ, and he will connect a bond between other people in his life. This could simply be what Real Steel is and from watching the trailer alone it is showing us a generic story made completely original. This really put me off in the trailer and I was never fussed about watching it but to be honest I am so glad I did.
This is definitely one of those films that will be many people's guilty pleasure. It is such fun to watch and really has an emotional core to it that I didn't expect it to have. Everyone loves watching robots beating hell out of each other but what is good about this is it stops that before it has the opportunity of becoming boring and propels us to the other story which is the building bond between Father and son. These are not the only two story threads however as there are others that connect Charlie with a love interest, former relatives, and former enemies without even mentioning their main nemesis in the robot boxing world. For a story that seemed so unoriginal in the trailer it really does have many story threads to keep you gripped. That certainly was a shock for the system.
Hugh Jackman is known mainly for playing Wolverine but here he plays something completely different. Granted he won't win any major awards for this performance but at times I forgot who he was and believed he was Charlie. Other than a couple moments of over acting and a few cheesy lines, he pretty much nails this performance. Dakota Goyo is also a strong performer as his son Max, my only quibble about him being that he seems awfully knowledgeable and confident for an eleven year old kid. Everyone else in the film does the job they set out to do.
The script is also surprisingly good. It does have many cheesy moments especially in the final act but the dialogue throughout is realistic and there is some obvious and subtle humour put in there. At times there are some great lines, delivered really well, that are so subtle you need to really listen to hear them, and they are great. The direction is also really good, especially the fight scenes which will have you on edge. The CGI for the robots also looks fantastic, and despite the fast cutting to avoid continuity, look very realistic for the world they are in. The robots also look like they are standing alongside humans and not actual effects.
The film is definitely a pleasant surprise. It does have a few cheesy moments and the second act does have a slight lull but there is enough in there for everyone to enjoy. It is a film I have seen twice now and I enjoyed it as much the second time as I did the first. This isn't just Rocky with robots, it certainly has something more.
3 / 5
Next film to review: ANIMAL KINGDOM