Saturday, October 8, 2011

Real Steel

If you know me…and, well most of you don’t…you know I like boxing. Watching. Not participating. Although there are days I wouldn’t mind going a round or two. I get that it can be a violent sport but there’s just something about it. It’s not just two guys slugging it out in front of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people. It’s being able to read your opponent. It’s fighting ‘til you just can’t fight any more. It’s the grand-standing. It’s the entrance music. It’s the excitement of the crowd. It’s the build-up to the main event. It’s being able to walk away once the fight is over and leave it in the ring. Okay. Not always. Sometimes the trash talk continues after the bout but that’s all part of the fun. Couple all that with Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo and a robot who just won’t quit and you’ve got Real Steel. I know that’s more than a couple but you know what I mean. All that was missing was Michael Buffer booming, “LLLLLET’S GET READY TO RUMBLLLLLLLLE!”

Someone on IMBD says Real Steel is, “Set in the near future, where robot boxing is a top sport, a struggling promoter feels he's found a champion in a discarded robot. During his hopeful rise to the top, he discovers he has an 11-year-old son who wants to know his father.”

Wow! Did you even see the movie? Despite the fact that I put that summary in my post you can pretty much ignore it. There are 5 truths in the above statement. Real Steel is set in the near future. Robot boxing is a top sport. And it’s a story about a robot, a struggling promoter and an 11-year-old boy.

Charlie is the main character; a down on his luck gambler and robot boxing promoter. He’s so washed up that in the opening scene we find he’s scheduled a bout between his robot and a bull. What? Yup. You heard (read?) correctly. A bull. I wanted to be completely appalled by this but the idea was just so silly I wasn’t really bothered at all. But still. A bull? Moving on… Charlie has the brains and boxing talent that should shoot him to the top in the robot boxing world but he’s got a really bad case of arrogance to go along with it and it destroys everything he sets out to accomplish.

In steps Max, Charlie’s son, who shows him that there are still things in the world worth fighting for. And Max himself is definitely a fighter. Add ten years and a hundred pounds to this kid and you’ll have yourself a contender. He’s got the heart. He’s got the mind. I love this kid. And I love the scene where he tries to protect his dad. It happens quickly but it’s there.

Max is actually the one who “finds” the robot (Atom). Actually, Atom sort of finds him. Max wants to put Atom in the ring but Charlie keeps insisting that the robot will end any fights in pieces. Max is determined and apparently what Max wants, Max gets. I tell ya. The kid’s a scrapper.

Charlie is played by Hugh Jackman. That fact alone would make me go see this movie. It didn’t hurt that he put in his typical performance. Typical in that it was super awesome! Sorry. Just seeing if you were paying attention. He did such a good job that there were several scenes in which I wanted to smack him. Get over yourself, dude! You are so not all that! This is another teddy-bear-behind-the-gruff-exterior movie. At the end of the film you’ll almost have forgotten what a bum he was at the beginning. Unless you’re writing a blog. Then it’s kind of important that you remember. One of my favorite lines from the film shows he’s finally thinking of someone besides himself. “You deserve better than me!” Oh Charlie. Sniffle.

Dakota Goyo plays the part of Max. Get ready for some cheese. This kid grabbed my heart from the beginning and didn’t let go. Cheese over. Yeah, his life pretty much sucks but he didn’t pout about it much. Like I said. He’s a fighter. Dakota was so much fun to watch. I hope he makes it way past being a child star. I think he stands a fighting chance. Get it? Fighting. Okay. I’m done. Their relationship sorta (and I’m stretching a bit here) reminds me of the relationship between Lincoln Hawk (Stallone) and Michael Cutler (David Mendenhall who, by the way, is way cute now!) in the movie Over the Top. Except the acting is better and there is a lot less mumbling. And robot boxing is way cooler than arm wrestling. You know it’s true.

Evangeline Lilly plays Charlie’s love interest, Bailey. If/when you see this you’ll get a glimpse of what I act like during a boxing match. That and she and I look a lot alike. I mean we could be sisters. Stop laughing. Keep reading. This was the first time I’d ever seen Evangeline so I had no biases one way or the other regarding her talent. No. I never saw an episode of Lost. Don’t look so surprised. She is yet another fighter in this movie. She believes in Charlie even when he’s down on his luck. Two more favorite lines in Real Steel? Baily: “1200 miles for a kiss?” Charlie: “Worth it.”

And to wrap up, so to speak, the actors I leave you with Kevin Durand. I strongly disliked him in Real Steel. He is a jerk and a bully and a coward. How can a bully be a coward? Because most bullies are. Kevin plays the part of Ricky, a big-mouthed Texan who, years ago, beat Charlie boxing. We don’t see this happen, thank goodness. We just get to hear about it. Ricky tells Charlie that he’s going to beat him to within an inch of his life if he doesn’t settle up on a bet. And when the whoopin’ takes place it’s not just Ricky doing the beat down. He brings two thugs along with him. And one of them is carrying a bat! C-O-W-A-R-D!!! We know Ricky gets his own at the end but we don’t get to see it happen. Dang. I like Kevin but the accent was a tad thick. He’s one of at least 3 Canadian actors in this film. Just curious, Kevin. Have you ever even been to Texas? Maybe I just haven’t run in to a stereotypical Texan yet.

I can’t move on to the break-down without talking about Atom. I want an Atom. Even though most every other robot in the movie had way more flash I still like the looks of Atom best. He’s very basic. And he’s more than just an inanimate object. We are led to believe that he is cognizant but we don’t really get to see much of that fact except a couple of times in the final fight. And not in the way I was hoping. But, seeing as how the producers came up with a much better fight than I wanted I guess I’m okay with that. Was the final score of the bout fair? You betcha. If you disagree then you definitely need to watch a few real fights.

Now for the break-down.

Sex/Nudity – None. Not even a you-know-it’s-gonna-happen scene

Drinking/Drugs – The movie starts with Charlie knocking over a bottle of beer and other bottles are in the background. And there is at least one other scene in which alcohol is present. I didn’t see any drugs at all. Yea!

Cussing – Yes. And a few of the words came out of Max’s mouth. Seriously? I don’t care that this is supposed to be the boxing world. Was that really necessary Shawn Levy (director) and John Gatins (screenplay)? Is it okay to hope that your kids talk like that in public (or private even)? No. I know it’s not.

Violence – Yes. And I’m not talking about the robots. I refer you to the afore-mentioned butt-whoopin’ scene. Yeah. The robots do beat the stuffin’s out of each other but it’s not the same as watching it happen to people. Charlie even talks about this in the movie.

I just talked to PT and she said she thought it was AWESOME! She said that she (and a lot of the people around her) was on the edge of her seat during the final fight scene. I have to admit that I was too. On the edge of my seat. Not hers. We wouldn’t both fit.

I would recommend this to pretty much anybody. Unless you’re totally hooked on Masterpiece Theater type movies. Because this is not. Parents please see the break-down above when you consider taking your kids to see it. I will say that I sat next to several very fidgety kids who seemed to love it.

I will definitely buy this when it comes out on DVD. I may even have to go to the theater to see it again. Television (okay MY television) just won’t give the robots the magnitude they deserve. I also want the soundtrack. Loved the music!!!

P.S. One thing I really loved about Real Steel is that none of the fight scenes had the hug fests that tend to occur in a lot of human boxing matches. Get a room, guys!

P.P.S. I still think they should have used Michael Buffer in this film.

P. P.P.S. No need to stick around. Nothing to see here but credits. Move along folks.

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