Real Steel (2011)

Very seldom, of late, have I gone into a movie with very low expectations and come out of the film pleasently surprised. Real Steel changed that for me. Real Steel is a 2011 sci-fi, action flick that stars Hugh Jackman(X-Men, The Prestige) and is directed by Shawn Levy(Night At The Museum, Date Night).

The film is set in the year 2020 and revolves around the world of robot boxing, robots have replaced humans in the sport of boxing. Charlie Kenton(Jackman), a former boxer himself, is an active member in the sport as he builds and buys these robots and then puts them in matches to make money. Charlie recieves what he believes to be a goldmine when he finds out that a past girlfriend of his, who beared his child eleven years prior, had died and her sister(Hope Davis) wants custody of their son. Charlie finds a way to get money out of the deal but still has to take his son, Max(Dakota Goyo), for the summer. Charlie plans to leave Max with his friend Bailey(Evangeline Lilly) for the summer while he goes out on the road with his robot. Max tricks Charlie and makes him take him with him. One night the two go to a robot junkyard looking for parts to build a new robot, an accident occurs and Max is “saved” by what turns out to be a robot buried in the sand. Max digs up the robot, gets the robot all cleaned up, and insists to Charlie that they take the robot out to start fighting. The problem is this robot wasn’t built for fighting, it was built solely for the purpose of sparring. But Max doesn’t give up and Charlie gives in and takes Max and his robot to a fight.

This film is the definition of everything that is a true underdog story. I have heard it called “Rocky with robots” and it is definitely a fighting title. The fight scenes between the robots were actually very well done. One thing that tends to be common in films that contain robots is the motion of the robots, they are not very fluid in their motion and it is very noticeable. With this film if it existed it wasn’t as noticeable or it didn’t jump off the screen screaming at me.

Hugh Jackman has become the next big action star in Hollywood and he gets a lot of hype because of it. Hype that I have not given in to because in my eyes there is more to being an actor than just being a great action star. To me Hugh Jackman is Wolverine and that’s about it. This film is an addition to a few movies that he has done in which he wasn’t playing his typical action star role. He did a fairly decent job in this role going from the guy that had no emotional ties and was completely happy with that at the beginning of the film, to the guy that appeared to start feeling emotion and having a heart. He did both of them very well and was very believable. But I still need to see more roles like this before I am willing to give it up to him. The rest of the supporting cast, though they didn’t seem to be too involved in the film aside from the robots and Max, did a very good job when they were on screen.

I gave this film a couple days after I watched it to soak in because I wanted to make sure I didn’t write a review and give it undeserving high praise just because I was so surprised by the film. This was a film I went so far as to making fun of before I saw it because it seemed like a premise based on a toy, Sockem’ Boppers, something that I’m sure many other people believed as well. Much to my surprise it was more than just that, the plot of the film was actually very well done and highly enjoyable. It won’t make lists of best films of 2011 and it won’t garnish awards, it definitely is not that kind of film. But it was a highly entertaining film, one of those films that actually surpises you by how much you actually do enjoy it, so long as you don’t have overly high expectations, in which case I have no idea how you could have high expectations for a film like this. If you are someone like me that had absolutely no expectations to even see this film I encourage you to suck it up and give it a go, you may very well be as pleasantly surprised as I was. This is definitely one of my biggest surprises of the year.

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