Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.

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This is still a work in progress as I migrate from my old platform at Tumblr. For now, you can still access the whole backlog of posts there at http://reelmatt.tumblr.com

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Real Steel

Film #95

THE PLOT

Set in the near future, where robot boxing is a top sport, a struggling promoter feels he’s found a champion in a discarded robot. During his hopeful rise to the top, he discovers he has an 11-year-old son who wants to know his father.

Year 1, Day 94

BEFORE: Real Steel is next on the list. I’ve heard many great things about this movie but I don’t have much to say myself so I’ll just get right into watching mode.

AFTER: I don’t know how you normally read these reviews, but just go ahead and take a peek down at the rating. I’ll wait. Did you notice the 5 out of 5 stars? Yeah, this was a tough decision because this was a great movie no doubt about it. But it is clichéd beyond belief. Despite a minor, and negligible twist at the end, Real Steel is a textbook underdog story with Rocky being an obvious comparison. For this reason alone I was going to give it 4 stars because it’s predictable; all the excitement goes away when things are predictable. Like knowing what your presents are before you tear off the wrapping Christmas morning. But the credits started rolling and I said to myself, “There’s no way I can give this a 4. It’s just too good.”

I pretty much covered the story already (read: a textbook underdog story) but I’d like to elaborate a bit. Yes, the story may be old, unoriginal, and predictable, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Everyone loves a good underdog story. Who doesn’t want to see the little guy win even though all the odds are against him? And Real Steel tells the story well: it has lively characters, excellent pacing, and some emotion sprinkled here and there.

Speaking about lively characters, lets talk about the acting. I don’t know what’s going on, but there are some top-notch child actors these days. In the past couple years we’ve seen the talents of Pierce Gagnon in the new release Looper, Asa Butterfield of Hugo fame (and the upcoming Ender’s Game adaptation), and now today’s Dakota Goyo who plays Max Kenton, Charles Kenton’s (Hugh Jackman) son. This has got to be one of the coolest kids I’ve ever seen. The swag just flows out of him as he trains and dances with Atom, his fighting robot. And the chemistry between him and his father is great. Jackman and Goyo just click and it’s very apparent in their actions and expressions.

No matter how much you may think this is Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots: The Movie, it isn’t. Real Steel is much more than a line of toys turned into a movie. And while it may be a clichéd underdog story, like a certain Philadelphian boxer, it’s still a story that is told well with superb acting.

RATING: 5 out of 5