My Robot Can Beat Up Your Robot
REAL STEEL (2011) Director: Shawn Levy Starring: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lily, Dakota Goyo Rating: PG-13 for robots punching each other.
There are two kinds of robots: the friendly robots who assemble cars and play games, and the robots that want to exterminate all humans in a cataclysmic nuclear fire. I’m not sure which side those Roomba cleaning robots fall on, but I wouldn’t let those little buggers clean the rooms where the missile launch codes are kept. Just saying.
In the sci-fi world of Real Steel people love robots – in fact, they love robots so much they let them get into the boxing ring and pound each other mercilessly because it’s more fun than watching humans do it!
The year is 2020 – cellphones and computers have transparent touch screens like in the Star Trek reboot and people drive concept cars. In movies the “near future” is like the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas; it’s loaded with lots of crap that looks cool but we’ll never actually own.
Real Steel stars Part-time X Man Hugh Jackman is Charlie Kenton, a former boxer/robot boxer owner whose career is on the skids because his robots keep getting pummeled into scrap metal. But it’s okay. Another cool thing about the “near future” in this movie is high tech computer controlled robots which should cost millions of dollars are the same price as a pre owned BMW.
To make things worse for Charlie, his long estranged son Max (Dakota Goyo) comes back into his life because his Mom died and his Aunt (Hope Davis) wants deadbeat Charlie to sign over custody. Charlie agrees to take his kid for the summer in exchange for some cash to buy another robot which he promptly destroys in another fight. Did I mention Charlie really sucks at robot fighting?
Max finds an old sparring robot in a junkyard he breaks into with Charlie (Did I mention Charlie also sucks at being a Dad?) and decides to fix up the old clunker and turn him into a champion fighter. Much to Charlie’s surprise, Max’s robot Atom is one tough metallic cookie and starts winning matches on the minor league robot boxing circuit.
Real Steel copies a lot of the story elements from the Rocky movies. There’s plenty of training montages and toe to toe brawling in the ring, But Real Steel surpasses Rocky in a few ways: the mute Atom is a better actor than Sylvester Stallone and Charlie’s super hot girlfriend Evangeline Lily is not nearly as whiney as Talia Shire.
Charlie, Max, and Atom face World Champion fighting robot Zeus and his skilled handlers in a championship match that will decide who the ultimate robot fighter.
Can the plucky underdogs topple the undefeated champion?
Will Atom and the other fighting robots become self aware and turn on their human oppressors which sparks the inevitable war between man and machine?
Can Charlie stop sucking at being a Dad?
Two of these three things happen at the end of Real Steel. The third thing, which would have been a great plot twist by the way, doesn’t happen because once again no one listens to me.
Why do I bother?