Real Steel Blu-Ray Review (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, February 04, 2012
Rocky! Rocky! Rocky! Wait, I mean Atom! Atom! Atom! It’s an easy mistake to make since Real Steel, based on a 1956 short story by Richard Matheson, borrows just about everything from the Rocky series. Instead of Rocky you have a robot named Atom…Instead of Burgess Meredith you get 11-year old Max as his trainer, and instead of a down and out character played by Burt Young you have a down and out character played by Hugh Jackman.
Real Steel is set in the near future of 2020 where boxing between humans has been replaced by boxing between robots. Jackman plays Charlie Kenton, a former boxer who now owns a fighting robot in what amounts to the minor leagues or underground. He competes in state fairs and other low level competitions. Charlie learns his ex-girlfriend has passed away and he has to attend a custody hearing to determine the fate of his son, Max (Goyo). Charlie agrees to sign over custody to Max’s wealthy aunt and her husband in return for $100,000 with the agreement that Charlie takes Max for two months while they are overseas.
Naturally Max and Charlie have a contentious relationship. Max turns out to be an avid video gamer and fan of robot boxing and when Charlie’s new robot is destroyed in his debut fight, the two pair up to salvage an old sparring robot from a junkyard. Cue a rousing rendition of “Gonna Fly Now” as Max and Charlie train the new bot called “Atom”. The older model robot is the perfect stand-in for Rocky and has at least as much personality as Stallone.
You can write the rest of the story from here…It’s the old, “little engine that could” robot versus the newer, flashier models. Atom begins by fighting in a series of underground fights but as the wins pile up, so does his reputation. It’s not long before Atom has worked his way onto the official Robot boxing circuit and earns a championship fight against the champion, Zeus. Come to think of it, the film also draw its inspiration from another Stallone film…the cheesy 1987 arm-wrestling film, Over the Top.
Despite not having a shred of originality and being completely predictable, Real Steel still somehow manages to be entertaining. You know you’re being manipulated with the whole estranged father-son relationship but since both characters are likable you don’t mind. Director Shawn Levy who has directed such films as “Night at the Museum” and “Date Night”, keeps the film light. He doesn’t overplay the drama as he knows its all a backdrop for robots bashing the crap out of each other.
And the robot action is the film’s strength. Using a combination of CGI and life-size models, the robots look and move with remarkable realism, better even than bots in the Transformers films. Even though they don’t speak they each are able to convey their own unique personalities. Real Steel is the very definition of a mindless, but fun popcorn film.
Real Steel Second Screen – This feature allows you to sync your I-Pad, laptop, or PC to theblu-ray and enjoy bonus material as the film goes on. You can also do so without using your laptop and enjoy various commentary and featurettes that break into the film as your watching.
Countdown to the Fight: The Charlie Kenton Story (13:51) – This is a series of faux interviews with characters from the film discussing the life and career of Charlie Kenton.
Making of Metal Valley (14:14) – A look at what Director Shawn Levy describes as the most complicated segment of the film…building the robot scrap yard where Charlie and Max find Atom.
Building the Bots (5:38) – Levy discusses how Steven Spielberg advised him to build real life models of the robots rather than just using CGI
Sugar Ray Leonard: Cornerman’s Champ (6:19) Former boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard talks about how he helped train Jackman for his role.
Deleted/Extended Scenes (17:49) – This is actually an entire story sub-plot that was deleted about a small decorative butterfly pin that Max received from his mother before she died. Levy explains why the entire sub-plot was ultimately cut.
Mania Grade: B-
Blu-ray: Real Steel
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly
Written By: Dan Gilroy, Jeremy Leven (screenplay)
Directed By: Shawn Levy
Distributor: Disney/Touchstone Home Entertainment
Original Year of Release: 2011
Extras: See Below