Sunday, 20 May 2012

REAL STEEL BLU-RAY review

Starring Hugh Jackman, the robo-boxing/family drama Real Steel is now out on DVD and Blu-ray.

After spending years working as a promoter on the circuit of robot boxing, Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) finds himself having to spend time with his estranged son, whilst also trying to make money and keep him business afloat. But stuck with underperforming robots and a group of loan sharks on his tail, can Charlie's son Max offer some valuable input?

Let's be under no illusions here, this is for all intents and purposes a Transformers movie but, y'know, in disguise. Adapted from a Twilight Zone episode Steel (a title since used for a Shaquille O'Neal superhero film, so probably best ignored) the concept of big robots knocking seven shades out of each other is one that been around for a while. It's not just a carbon copy of Transformers though (hello Battleship), wading into some thick emotional drama with a complex family situation between Charlie and Max.

Working on their father/son relationship, it's hard to like Jackman's character when he's such an unbelievably terrible and uncaring father. His endless neglect and mistreatment is off-putting to say the least. It's Charlie's development/growth as a parent that provides emotional clout to the film, but so appalling are his actions at the start of the film, it's hard to forget what an absolute shit he is. Charlie starts the film trying to sell his son so he can buy himself a new fighter. As ruthless boxing promoters go, even Don King wouldn't go that far.


Although they may not last long, the robot fights do at least give you someone to root for, even if the lines between good and evil are hazily drawn. Think of ED209 versus Sir Kill-a-lot, or the mighty robots from Battlestar Galactica taking on the gay robots from Star Wars. Atom, the fighter who puts the scrap into scrappy underdog, in particular gets the crowd behind him, and the friendship between this quasi-sentient being and Max is the most moving aspect of the emotional conflict heavy plot.

The fights (made using CGI, puppetry and motion capture) do look impressive, and there is a casual disregard to the well being of the robots that means most of them could end up on the scrapheap at any moment. There's some great design work put into the 'bots, even if Atom does have the same vacant grin as Wilson the volleyball from Castaway.


If Robot Wars and Scrapheap Challenge had a big-screen baby, Real Steel would be that odd looking child. The story walks a fine line by having its main character be a really unlikeable bastard for most of the film, but in the fight scenes there is some credible action to enjoy in what is an old fashioned rags to riches tale; or maybe pewter to silver is more apt. 

Verdict





Special Features:

+ Countdown To The Fight: The Charlie Kenton Story
+ Making of Metal Valley
+ Building the Bots
+ Sugar Ray Leonard: Cornerman's Champ
+ Deleted/Extended Scenes
+ Audio Commentary
+ Bloopers

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