Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Real Steel" Review

    Every now and again, a critic has to admit, as much as they don't want to, that they were wrong about something. Most of the time it comes when a movie that convinces us through its trailers that it will actually be good, turns out to be, well, John Carter. However, sometimes critics pan the trailer for a movie that turns out to be really good. Back in my Contagion review, I said Real Steel looked like nothing to look at. Sometimes, it's great being wrong. This is Real Steel!

    Real Steel is directed by Shawn Levy, famous for the awful Date Night and fun Night at the Museum series, and follows Charlie (Cinema Won favorite Hugh Jackman) and his estranged son Max (Dakota Goyo) as they rebuild and retrain a robot boxer to take on the reigning robo-champ, with a little help from Charlie's friend Bailey (Evangeline Lilly).
    Yes, they concept is cliched and a little silly sounding. And at first, the move does seem to lean that way, with much of the first half of the two hour movie going fairly slow, even with the very strong cast trying their hardest. Jackman and Goyo have good chemistry and they both have nice chemistry with Lilly. But perhaps most impressively is the chemistry of all the film's characters with the gorgeous CGI-robots, who never look fake or like they are out of place in the film's world. Plus, how cool is it that the child lead is not annoying at all!

That. Looks. AWESOME.
    And, thankfully, after the first hour passes and the fights begin, much like fellow fighting film Warrior, Real Steel ramps up to eleven, expertly blending the visually stunning fights and the honest, heartfelt emotion. Thanks to Levy's direction, the fights are NOT shot in the shaky cam everyone seems to love now, meaning the audience can actually see the terrific fights play out in metal-crunching awe.
    The emotion connections the audience will make with the characters is surprisingly well-done, as I had expected to film to falter majorly on this front. Jackman and Goyo's bonding as the film progresses seems genuine and is nearly as much fun to watch as the fights. And while yes, the film is pretty predictable and doesn't have any real changes to the formula, it proves that what has worked before will work again.  By the time the credits are rolling, you will be having too much fun to notice the film's flaws.

This totally works. I don't believe it either.
    Real Steel is just as much of a surprise as the sparing robot hero in the film. The cast has great chemistry and the effects can be at time breathtaking. And while the film doesn't have many surprises up its sleeve, it does pack a very strong punch. It's a great film for families and a great film all around. Real Steel gets 5 and a half stars out of 6.

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