Friday, October 21, 2011

Real Steel

 October is almost gone and I have posted only eight times!! I haven't watched such a barreness of films since well.....I was a teenager! The last film I watched was the mediocre Bond Diamonds are Forever last Saturday night. I have missed the previous two films ( Thunderball and You Only Live Twice ) because of watching the rugby world cup, which incidentally winds up tomorrow with NZ playing France in the final. But that aside trips to the cinema have been far and few between which is extremely rare for me. Just short of that awful stuff called money at the moment with niggling little commitments elsewhere. Yeah October has been a grim month film wise and I honestly cannot believe how few I've managed to watch!

 Now Real Steel wasn't on my radar as a trip to the cinema watch. With money so tight I've had to become pretty selective in what I see. Normally in flusher times I would probably see this. But the trailers didn't impress me and I thought it all looked somewhat cliched and aimed at a younger audience. But when I got a free ticket and it being Thursday I used it on this. Why?? Because for only the second time in two years there wasn't a new release at the main stream theatre!! I couldn't believe it as I really didn't want to see this! But it is still school holidays here so the theatre is cashing in on all the idle school kids coming in during the day.

 So reluctance aside, considering I wasn't paying a cent, off to the theatre little butt of mine did go! Fortunately it wasn't packed with younger school kids and I was surprised at having a relatively older audience with me. First thing is that The Avengers trailer played before hand and it gave nothing away. Honestly it was very short and for once a trailer didn't play half the bloody movie in its running time. It was just a taster and that is what a trailer should be. Just long enough to pique the interest. By doing so I believe it draws in an audience more than bombarding them with a long trailer. I mean Real Steel had a long trailer form which I drew my negative judgement from. If shorter it would have piqued me more and made me think ' I must see that. ' Anyway free ticket or not Real Steel turned out to be a movie that was better than I expected it to be.

 The trailers gave me the impression of unoriginality. Well it is that in regards to the bum father doing good by his abandoned kid. Been done before, and to death. So I got what I expected there. But fortunately whilst all the done to death cliched moments came out they didn't get too mushy and emotional...which can become an embarrassment. There were a few moments where I groaned and gritted my teeth but overall it didn't become too sentimental. In fact what impressed me most was the fact that the ending wasn't the usual feel good cliched one. OK it ended on a high but not as far as the underdog hero winning against all odds endings generally go. I liked this and found it commendable...but when you realise a sequel is already afoot you can maybe understand why!!

 So the premise is not exactly new. Interestingly as the opening credits rolled I saw that this is loosely based on a short story entitled Steel by Richard Matheson. For you not in the know he wrote the brilliant vampire novel I am Legend which was hideously butchered in the Will Smith adaptation. What I see here is the screen writers having taken Matheson's vision of futuristic robot boxing and fused into it an estranged father son relationship. It does work but again it has all been done before. I did find the script somewhat weak but oxymoronically Real Steel is a reasonably strong film. 

I had to add this because she has very yummy thighs!!
  So script and premise aside what is strong about this? Maybe it is because it is a movie that encompasses the entire audience. I mean an adult can take the kids along and enjoy it as much as they would. Its great strength is in the fact it doesn't alienate one sector of the audience over the other. In other words it works for all age groups. And in this type of movie I think that is quite rare and at times difficult to pull off. It is certainly at a level where adults could quite easily watch it without children present even though the target audience is the younger set. What Real Steel has done is what animation has been doing for years in making a user friendly product that is age resistant.

 The cast is competent without being spectacular and was made up of basically second ringers. I like Hugh Jackman though. He is one of the film industry's nice guys and keeps out of the celebrity limelight. He is almost purpose made for a movie like this even though he is an accomplished actor and can do far better. But this isn't a movie out for Oscar glory! So yeah the cast is competent within the given script and dialogue which was better than usual. In fact it was remarkably devoid of some the almost obligatory clunker lines than make you grimace and cringe in embarrassment movies like this throw up all too often.
 So human elements out of the way what about the robots?!! Well they are fantastic! By the looks of them the same technique that is used in the Transformers franchise has been used here. But I'd rather watch this than the last two from that neck of the woods any day! What I liked here is unlike the transformers the action isn't at a million miles an hour and the robots look more authentic. The humans and robots mix well on screen and look as if it is all real. I love the scene where Jackman's character first starts to teach Max's robot how to box. It is a good example of how well fused the robot imagery is fused with the live action of the actors. ( See the picture above ).

 Real Steel then is better than I expected. It certainly isn't great and has inherent flaws in regards to an unoriginal estranged father son premise. But fortunately it doesn't over do it. It is cliched but the ending makes up for this somewhat because it doesn't go all out on the cliches!! But it still has a lot of heart and is friendly to all age groups. While strictly speaking not an adult orientated film it has been well enough made that any adult can sit through it and enjoy it in the process. Not unmissable and certainly not a mandatory watch, but still worth it if you do catch it ( especially with a free ticket!! ). I'd give it 6/10.

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  1. I'm glad you enjoyed it - I thought is was a really solid cinema flick!

    I would have preferred to have seen Hugh Jackman's yummy thighs though ;-)


  2. Yeah it was a solid movie even though formulatic and totally cliched. I mean I seriously did not want to see it at all. So it was a surprise I walked out afterwards well satisfied.
    Yes I'm sure you'd like to see ' more 'of Jackman! I saw Australia with my mother serveral years back and I could literally here the sighs every time he was on screen!!!!!!

  3. The amount of good reviews on this is making this a must watch on video, I was totally uninterested in this before, great review Brent!

  4. Yeah I was totally uninterested myself but with a free ticket I thought what the hell. It is certainly flawed and yet a solid watch and well worth a watch.

  5. 'I had to add this because she has very yummy thighs!' I liked this.

  6. Hahhahaha! Nothing like a bit of humour to liven up a post! But she does and it was going through my mind as I watched the scene!

  7. I had it in my mind to see this, but due to circumstances I've missed it this week. Will possibly go see it at the end of next week, if it will still be playing.

    I don't expect much of it, but from the beginning I thought it would prove entertaining and reading your review has further convinced me. If I don't catch it in its theatrical run, I'll definitely give it a go on home video.

  8. It is solid without being spectacular. But still worth a watch, ad well worth it on the big screen because the robot fights are quite cool!