‘Real Steel’ - a real deal (IANS Movie Review)

October 7th, 2011 - 3:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Film: “Real Steel”; Cast: Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly; Director: Shawn Levy; Rating: ***1/2

In this age, we crave for technology so much that even a brainless film with a lot of tech and action thrown in works. The loud, garish and pointless “Transformers” series is a case in point. Yet, a sci-fi, technological film, need not be so bad. Want proof, watch “Real Steel” that combines the best of tech effects with the soul of “Rocky”.

In a not-so-distant future, robot boxing is big. Charlie (Hugh Jackman), a cocky promoter spoils his chances by making some rash calls. An unsentimental guy, he even uses the son, Max (Dakota Goyo), whom he had deserted for money. However, the sensibility and sensitivity of this 11-year-old kid changes his fortune and his life as a junk robot, with a heart of steel and the “soul” of a champion, turns out to be a winning prizefighter.

It should be clear at the onset that there’s really nothing original about “Real Steel”. It’s not even a very creative reworking of cliches that most art films these days seem to be. Instead, it plays along with the cliche, but with the endearing lightness that makes it a worthwhile watch. Despite its hackneyed plot and predictable subplots, it has the nimble footwork of a heavyweight boxer who manages to ‘fly’ as he boxes.

The non-living, junkyard robot Atom becomes a metaphor for the liveliest emotions we know: love, courage and a never-say-die spirit. That it takes an inanimate object to arouse human feelings in Charlie, is a commentary on our life and times and our obsession for everything external. His wins as an abandoned thing thus become the victories of what is truly important in life, but which we have relegated into the junkyards of our lives. These emotions are indeed the atoms of our very existence.

The film will remind you of “Rocky”. Surprisingly, the ending too is similar. The film gives a beautiful message - You don’t have to win to prove a point. The real victory in life is in doing something with passion, standing tall with courage and the ability to never give up despite the odds.

There’s tenderness in the father-son relationship, despite its cliches, that will tug at your heart. The chemistry between Hugh Jackman and Dakota Goyo - the actors essaying the roles, only adds to it.

The special effects are gentle and subtle enough, not as jarring as in “Transformers”. That is, primarily because the driving force in the film is the story, not the robots. Nevertheless, those who like huge metal objects fighting or like watching boxing and wrestling, will love the film.

It is thus surprising that Steven Spielberg, who is also the producer of the “Transformers” series, also produces this. For Indian cine lovers there’s another reason to watch “Real Steel” — it has been co-produced by home ground company Reliance Entertainment.

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