A good fighting movie challenges the concept of what is possible and what is impossible with the journey of a hero.A bad fighting movie features robot boxers defying every law of physics, shoddy excuses for a ‘hero’, and a plot that ends in the most depressing way possible.
The latter applies to Real Steel, directed by Shawn Levy (“Night At The Museum”), and starring Hugh Jackman (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”), Evangeline Lilly (“Lost”), Dakota Goyo (“Thor”) and Kevin Durand (“I Am Number Four”).
To put it simply, Real Steel was full of disappointments. The special effects look like they were done in Microsoft PowerPoint. The plotline is as consistent as chewed hamburger meat. The characters exhibit less emotion than the average toaster.
The only positive things that can be said about Real Steel are the soundtrack and the brilliant (edit: shameless) use of product placement that helped Disney recover from the gigantic production cost they incurred. In other words, Life In The Fast Lane by Eminem featuring Bad Meets Evil backing the commercial for the “Xbox 720 with Virgin Mobile 3G” is the only redeeming aspect of Real Steel.
Real Steel is the story of boxer-turned robot boxing controller Charlie Kenton (Jackman). The film opens to show Charlie heading to a fight for his robot, ‘Ambush’. The opponent? A bull. We are supposed to root for the guy who is about to attempt to kill an animal, using a 2-ton metal death machine, for entertainment and fun.
After the fight, Charlie is informed that his exwife has passed away, leaving him the sole benefactor of his son, Max. Charlie makes a deal with in-laws to cede his parental rights to Max at the end of the summer for $10,000. In other words, Charlie sells Max. Charlie and Max head to a gym where Charlie purchases the robot. (The gym is, in real life, the Detroit Fire Department). The robot is destroyed in its first fight.
They head to a junkyard to scavenger for robot parts. After becoming frustrated with Max, Charlie leaves, but Max stays behind to dig up a robot he stumbled upon. The next morning, Max arrives at the car with the 2-ton robot in a shopping cart. He apparently dug up this gigantic robot all by himself. Using this new robot, they work their way up the ranks of the robot league and earn a match with the world champion. The final bout is set at a futuristic arena, which is actually the Cobo Arena in Detroit. Real Steel ends directly after the title fight.
Ultimately, Charlie is not an admirable ‘hero’. He is a cheapskate scumbag who uses 2-ton metal death machines to kill animals and make a quick buck. He abandoned his wife and son, (who he subsequently sold for $100,000). The only admirable thing Charlie does in the movie is buy Max a hamburger halfway through the movie. But Disney says Charlie Kenton is our hero, so Charlie Kenton is our hero.
“Real Steel” Rated PG-13, 147 minutes, opens in theaters today