Thursday, 20 October 2011

Real Steel (2011)

Running Time: 127 mins
Directed By: Shawn Levy
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lily, Dan Gilroy, John Gatins, Hope Davis, Anthony Mackie
Screenplay: John Gatins
UK Release Date: 14th October 2011 - UK

Quick Plot: It's 2020 and boxing as we know it today has been replaced by ginormous, steel robot's fights. Former human boxer, Charlie, hasn't got much going for him until he is reunited with his 11 year old son who he hasn't seen since birth. Now forced to spend time together, the pair find out they have a closer bond when they think after discovering a washed up robot.

Review: Back in August, I was lucky enough to attend a live Q&A with director Shawn Levy and was even more lucky to got a chance to see some, at the time, exclusive clips. Levy was absolutely lovely, funny and he definitely pushed me more towards seeing Real Steel. The film has done considerably well in the US box office and it's no surprise. Robot fights with Hugh Jackman? Sold.
But Real Steel is a lot more than that first appearance, it's a family drama and Levy has it right. He can quite obviously create a witty film (Date Night, Night At The Museum, etc..) which can be relatable to a wide range of audiences and Real Steel does that and more, with a hint of sci fi. Though the story seems to fall a bit with no emotion shown in the son's (Goyo) attitude considering his mother just died, the bond between him and his idiot father works well and that's probably down to the two incredible actors.
Jackman is as fierce, sexy and completely compelling as always. Even without seeing interviews or hearing any kind of press on Real Steel, you know full well he trained extremely hard for his character Charlie. Then, with seeing interviews (and the from the Q&A I saw a few months back) you can see Jackman and Levy got on extremely well in putting their everything into making this film.
Charming little12 year old Goyo is understandably the stand out of the family action film which is probably from him being the main target audience. He too must have had a lot of fun on the film, especially in the funniest and most mesmerizing robot dance sequence on screen in a long time. The filled out cinema was in fits of laughter and aww's at the sweet bond between Max and the main robot of the film, Atom. There is the perfect balance of friendship in Real Steel so the Max/Atom plot line doesn't go too silly or adrift from the main bond between father/son. Jackman and Goyo definitely had a lot of chemistry which helped the main family plot Levy was so desperate to achieve. First having the usual stubborn bickering and on typical 'I don't like that food' squabble, they soon pick up their relationship and the pair of actors have enough realistic talent to prove that. Anthony Mackie and Evangeline Lilly are sweet add ons to the film's ensemble, adding a little more reality in a friend and unfortunately a too focused relationship for Charlie.
Aside from the family drama, the robot scenes are exciting, fast and fun which makes Real Steel so great. They're loud and bright which will win over kids in an instant and the adults won't be far behind. The boxing action sequences are taken to an extreme by Levy and look completely real, as hard as it may be to believe. With human motions, the robots fights are captivating- just like they're meant to be in the world of Real Steel. Jackman's training with boxer Sugar Ray Leonard makes Charlie's commitment with the robot boxing apparent on screen. Even in the last scenes, which you can guess, the big, final boxing fight, you know it's cliché but you can't help but sit up, excited and enchanted by the robots. Because of the balance of family drama issues and amazing robotic fights, Real Steel is a great family film. Although it could be considered samey with the Transformers franchise, the family story line and gentle bonds bring the film back to a bit more originality.

Levy has raised his own mark here with a heart warming family film- with added robots It's funny, slick and extremely enjoyable.

Real Steel trailer

Shawn Levy and Chris Hewitt at the Empire Big Screen in August
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