I got really lucky this week and managed to win 2 free tickets to an advance screening of the new movie Real Steel starring Hugh Jackman and Evangeline Lilly, from You Don’t Know Jersey. It’s a little site with all kinds of cool stuff that’s happening around New Jersey. If you live in or around Jersey (or you have a weird interest in local events in some other state) you should check it out.
Now about the movie.
I’m not a movie critic by any stretch of the imagination. I’m a huge fan of movies, though. So much so that my wife suffers for it. A very large portion of our basement was turned into my theater room and the stereo system has a tendency to rattle the glasses in the kitchen cabinets. I think it’s awesome and the perfect way to watch a movie. She thinks it’s irritating and the perfect way to destroy dishes.
There was a point to that last paragraph. It’s to illustrate just how much I love movies. And I want you to understand that I really do love watching movies. But I wasn’t able to love this one, and to be perfectly honest with you I was only able to like it a little bit. Most of the “like” came in the form of Evangeline Lilly.
There are 3 movies all running at the same time here. Okay, not really, it’s just 1 movie. But there are 3 of the classic Hollywood tropes: fallen hero making a comeback, deadbeat dad looking for redemption, and underdog shooting for the champion. Hugh Jackman has his 11 year old son thrust into his life after the boy’s mom dies. Initially he doesn’t want the boy, but after a series of adventures they grow closer and it all works out in the end.
But at the same time there’s the underdog story of the old boxing robot that was found in a junk yard. Originally meant to be a sparring ‘bot “built to take a lot of punishment” (as soon as I heard this I thought ‘They are going to try to make this look like some kind of Robo-Rocky’). Presumably, this little robot is going to get pummeled all the way up to a fight with the top dog.
Wait! There’s more! There’s the fallen hero story. Hugh’s character is a former boxer from back when people gave a shit about the fights because they were people and not machines. He controls fighting robots to try and retain (or regain?) some of what he had when he was a fighter.
I wouldn’t say that this movie sucked, but it definitely wasn’t good. It’s not something you’re going to want to spend money to go and see in the theater because it’s just not worth it. It seems like the kind of movie that’s geared toward children, but with all the swearing it becomes apparent that they aren’t really going for that, either.
I tried to like the movie. I really wanted to. The problem is that there’s no tension. When Rocky was going up against Apollo Creed for the first time, I was worried that he wouldn’t make it. I was scared. When Rocky was pleading with Mickey to cut his eye so that he could see, I was hopeful. And at the end of the fight, even though Rocky didn’t win, it didn’t matter. He had gone toe-to-toe with the undisputed champion and he had gone the distance. When Rocky stood there, bleeding and crying out for Adrian, I still get chills all over my body to this very day.
I don’t feel that for a robot. After rebuilding vehicles and computers, I look at a busted up robot and I think “Okay, fucking put him back together and get on with it”. They were spraying water in Rocky’s mouth and wiping the sweat and blood from his body. What did they do for Atom (that’s the robot, by the way)? They fucking taped his wires back together. Oh hell no, motherfuckers just busted out the electrical tape. SHIT JUST GOT REAL!
Honest opinion time!
Just skip this until it comes out on DVD. And even then just use Redbox or Netflix. It saddens me that they made an attempt at a somewhat original movie (in that it wasn’t a sequel or based on an old novel) and it turned out like this. If you really want to watch some robots fighting and feel a little bit of tension and maybe worry about the characters a little bit, rent Robot Jox. At least they had enough balls to fight inside the robots with actual weapons and shit. None of this pussy remote-controlled Rock’em Sock’em Steroids. Come to think of it, why didn’t they just spend the money they made on this pile on remaking Robot Jox? That shit would be badass.
You know what, on second thought maybe they shouldn’t do that. But they shouldn’t have made Real Steel either, and here we are.