Film Review: Real Steel is a Knockout

****DISCLAIMER**** This review is for entertainment purposes only. Since-I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-supposed-to-hyphenate-and-not-hyphenate-I’m-just-going-to-hyphenate-everything. That-should-cover-my-bases. Plus-it’s-fun-watching-my-word-program-go-into-auto-spell-check-and-self-destruct.

Where the heck have I been? Sorry my reviews have been so scarce as of late. I could probably come up with some good excuses like a death in the family, world travel, porn star career took off, or some other reasonably believable explanation but the truth is I haven’t really been thinking about reviews a lot which is stupid since that’s how I started getting into writing over 10 years ago. So I had to chin up, get back on my high horse (which I never told myself I’d climb off of), and give my fans what they’ve been asking for – more terribly written reviews with bad dick jokes. And it’s appropriate that my comeback be about a man, a boy, and their boxing career. I don’t know why it’s appropriate, but I’m drunk when I write these things, so who cares?

This “ring the bell” review is Real Steel, the true story of one man’s journey to forgiveness with his forgotten son and the trials and tribulations he goes through to reconnect with him. Hugh Jackman plays Charlie Kenton, an ex-boxer who is down on his luck after a series of bad bets cause him to spiral downward into bankruptcy. Not only is he broke, but he has to pay back debts to bad guys, like Ricky (Kevin Durand), who don’t accept payment plans. His only hope for financial recovery is to sign away his son Max (Dakota Goyo) to his dead girlfriend’s sister and her husband, who are wealthy enough to give Max the life he never had with a father who abandoned him years ago. Charlie receives a large sum of money to sign parental rights over to Max’s aunt and uncle, but in exchange, he asks that Max go on a road trip with him so they can spend time together and try to bond as father and son. Feels like I’m missing something here. Naw, I just saw it, so I’m pretty sure I’m on the money with this synopsis.

Real Steel may seem like another stupid father-son-must-bond-on-the-road-type movie (again, I have no idea what to hyphenate anymore), but this one avoids the cheese factor films like Over the Top gave us when it comes to how the son reacts to his father. Jackman, who does so many bicep curls his veins are actually trying to escape from his arms, is fantastic as the father with a lot of regret with regard to his son. His feelings for his career as a boxing promoter sometimes overshadow his feelings for his son, but his current girlfriend Bailey (Evangeline Lilly) manages to keep him from losing focus on what really matters. I haven’t seen a lot of Evangeline Lilly’s work, because I never bothered with that stupid television show Lost about a bunch of people who refuse to leave their island resort vacation and go back to work, but I have to say that she does a great job in this movie. The only thing that bothers me about her is I can’t tell if she’s a large B-cup or a small-C. These things are really important when reviewing a film, people. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise if you’re just starting out and you want this to be your full-time job. If there’s two things I can teach you about being a successful movie reviewer, it’s the ability to dissect a film in a realistic and unbiased fashion, and boob sizes.

If you can figure this chest puzzle out, please contact me.

The real star of the show is Dakota Goyo as Max. I’m not sure where this talented little bastard came from, but he steals almost every scene he’s in with Jackman. I’m not kidding, there are times when he runs circles around him and it’s actually a joy to watch. Most kid actors are terrible and we’re supposed to give them a pass because they can’t have erections yet, but I don’t mind trashing some kid if he or she gives a crappy performance. Unfortunately for me, I gotta give this Goyo brat props for being so talented. I also must publicly admit that I hate his guts because he’s going to have such a bright future, he’ll be diving into swimming pools filled with money, hos, and cocaine by the time he’s 17.

What makes Real Steel stand out from other father-son sports movies, like Over the Top or Monster’s Ball, is the care taken by screenwriters John Gatins (screenplay), Dan Gilroy (story), and Jeremy Leven (story). Instead of following the traditional formula where the dad has to prove to his son that he can be a great father, Real Steel avoids all of that nonsense and lets these two communicate in an honest way with each other. Yes, Max is pissed at Charlie for not being there as he was growing up, but he’s able to look past it as long as the two are able to achieve success as boxing promoters. Charlie, who is clearly too immature to raise a child, exposes this weakness in character early in the film. And rather than have Max throw a little kid fit by stomping his feet or throwing his milkshake or whatever it is these little demon spawn do when they can’t play their Nintendo DS, he tells his father straight up that he’s been living just fine without him. I really enjoyed how their relationship played out and you honestly felt like their inevitable connection was genuine and not forced. So, kudos to the writers for not insulting the audience by taking the easy road when it came to character development. Raising a kid can be difficult (I wouldn’t know, I’ve denied all Maury Povich appearance requests), and I was happy to see those fears and regrets played out in such a smart way.

Jackman and Lily play with the iPad 7

Director Shawn Levy, known for those really terrible Night at the Museum movies, manages to create a realistic world filled with believable characters that draw the audience in without resulting in cheap laughs or corny situations. Most of the shooting locations took place across the state of Michigan, with Levy’s biggest hurdle trying to make Detroit not look like a giant Radio Shack that had recently been robbed. He was able to create a small-time America in the not-too-distant future that is technologically believable with familiar surroundings. In other words, AT&T still doesn’t work for shit 10 years from now.

Real Steel was a real surprise and I think audiences, both young and old, are going to enjoy its father-son connection, the excellent acting, great humor, and exciting boxing sequences. Most boxing films run out of gas in the first round, but Real Steel is one of those rare experiences that manages to go the distance.

Oh ya, there’s robots in it too. Shit! Knew I forgot something.

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2 thoughts on “Film Review: Real Steel is a Knockout

  1. romona robinson

    El Guapo strikes again with another great review! This is the only movie I can claim my corny behind has seen three times (once during a screening, once in 2D then again in IMAX)in I don’t know when.

    This one ranks right up there with the Battle Los Angeles review, which was PRICELESS! Kudos sir. *Thumbs up and keep em comin!*

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