Friday, September 28, 2012

Real Steel - The Re(al) - view

I have to confess that I never considered this movie till I gave it a chance, last week that is. Reason? Well the story didn't just do it for me ... c'mon robot boxing? That's a plot that equates flop, or so I thought. After two hours, I was astonished by the awesomeness of the movie as a whole.

Of course as I began the movie halfhartedly, I noticed a name - Steven Spielberg - in the opening credits, that kind kicked my enthusiasm for this experience (yeah that's how I like to think of movies); of course I'm a fan of Hugh Jackman, but I've got to confess that it would take a better plot for me to consider how his performance would (positively) affect the movie. The major reason Real Steel cuts across the line with viewers is solely because of the story/plot (in my opinion); some say it's a tacky story baptised in sports movie clich├ęs, others say a weak story backed by thrilling fight scenes and good use of characters that emotionally tap into the underdog complex of the viewer.

I belong to the second group of viewers.

While I would point to the weakness of the story, the movie more than compensates for it with its characters (robots included) and the whole sports theme, which makes the movie look like a mash-up or Rocky and Transformers (think smaller robots); and as wacky as it may sound/read, it totally worked.

I am a big fan of a big guy/kid combination for protagonists in a movie (think Man on Fire & Game Plan) where the kid complements the big guy's faults which are usually in form of taking responsibility; plus there's the hero angle to it which is always a winner, heck that's what the action movie industry is all about. Hugh Jackman and Dakota Goyo (who was my favourite) worked very well together; the childish/loser father and his super stubborn son was a winning formula and the actors that supported Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, Kevin Durand and James Rebhorn did really well, although Durand's character, Ricky, felt unfinished at the end of the movie.

And as for the human antagonist, which has to be the combination of Olga Fonda as Farra Lemkova and Karl Yune as Tak Mashido (the cool Japanese dude), who were portrayed in a way that without saying a word, you just wanted them to be on the losing side. Of course the scene where Mashido looses his cool was quite exhilarating.

But the coolest part of the movie - the robots, the use of animatronic props was an excellent idea, as it helped the human/robot relationship a lot, as the robots did not speak nor did they act independently. Another cool part to this movie is that Real Steel did not have a comic book or toy framework, therefore all robots had to be built from scratch and the fact that they were not all shinning showed that the production team had done its homework, the damage or battle scars on each robot spoke a bit of their history (case point - Atom); and in the case of Zeus, his sparkly image showed that he was truly a menace in the ring, which increased the hype of his fight against "old school" Atom. Also much praise to the visual effects team, those robots blended into the movie that they barely stood out, and their fights were fantastic; the Academy Award nomination was truly deserved in this category.

Finally, the climax of Real Steel was worth every shot, and I'm talking about the last round of the Zeus/Atom fight where Atom fought in shadow mode, which provided a worthy ending to an awesome movie. And director Shawn Levy did something unique with his futuristic movie, he didn't try to explain every single thing or even focus the camera on little details; one tiring factor with futuristic movies is the eagerness of the director wanting to highlight every single difference from today's society, but with Real Steel, nothing felt changed until you paid a little more attention (to things like the phones, navigation system in the truck, computers, locks and may more). Now that's much better!

An experience worthy of the tag - AWESOME!!!