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Teen Movie Critic - V

Real Steel


Jeff Nelson

Real Steel is entertaining during the fight scenes, otherwise older audiences won't be fooled by the tacky dialogue and characters. However, younger viewers are sure to have a blast with this one.

Real Steel
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I recall a teaser trailer being released almost an entire year before Real Steel was set to be released. It looked very interesting and I was excited to check it out. However, the more that was released about the film, from the trailers to the images, I became less and less excited. The teaser felt a lot like an intense action movie that involved robots. Once the full length trailer was released, it shed its real colors, which were signs of a family movie. That's exactly what it ended up being. There's nothing wrong with that, but I wish that the teaser trailer didn't mislead audiences as much as it did. After it was released on the big screen, I had no interest in paying the full ticket price to see it, so I waited a while after Netflix had plenty copies of it. While watching this I was trying so very hard to not compare it to other movies, but it borrows so much from other films that it's difficult to keep from the comparisons.

In a future world where flesh-and-blood boxers have been replaced by towering mechanized fighters, promoter Charlie Kenton reconnects with his estranged son, Max, to convert a discarded machine into a World Robot Boxing contender. Anybody who has ever seen a Disney film knows how the relationship between Charlie and Max is going to turn out. The story clearly takes Rocky and throws Transformers-esque fighters into the mix. I'm not sure if I'm the only viewer who thought this, but I found Charlie's son, Max, to be extremely irritating from the moment he appeared until the credits were rolling. The story is advertised as being a big robot fighting movie, but that often takes a backseat to the relationship between a father and his son. I personally never found myself caring very much about either of the characters, making all of that running time feel a bit useless. However, the dialogue is solid and the screenwriter is successful in creating a great amount of excitement from the fighting sequences to other troubles that Charlie is forced to face, such as a man he owes money to. If you can get past the annoying character, Max, and a lot of tacky attempts to make viewers have emotional connections to the characters, the script is actually decent.

A huge selling point for Real Steel is Hugh Jackman in the role of Charlie Kenton. While I don't care very much for his clichéd role, he delivers a solid performance here. Without him in this role, I doubt that audiences would be able to even have any connection to the character. He does a good job with conveying the role. It isn't Jackman, Dakota Goya, or any of the other actors' faults that the characters and dialogue are quite wooden and tacky, but everybody pulls his or her own weight. Evangeline Lilly is convincing as Bailey Tallet. Kevin Durand isn't in the film very much, but he's successful in playing the complete tool, Ricky. There aren't any truly memorable performances here, but they're all solid in the given feature.

The strongest asset Real Steel has is in the visual department. The Oscar nomination in the Best Achievement in Visual Effects category was earned. All of the robots here look absolutely fantastic. The action is terrific. The CG work could have easily come off as cheesy if they weren't done right, but they most certainly were done correctly. When Charlie and Max's robot is fighting, one cannot help but become absolutely engrossed in the battles. No, they aren't on as big of a scale as Transformers, but they're done marvelously for taking place in a stadium. The robots are able to fight in different mode, which are voice recognition, shadow mode (the robot copies the human controlling it), and by controller. It's interesting to see all three different modes of fighting. The audio is a reference-grade track. The dialogue is never difficult to hear from the center channel and the action that unfolds in the front stage comes across aggressively. The surrounds create a large amount of ambiance and are really amped up during the robot boxing sequences. Even though this isn't the strongest movie in the story department, the visual and audio departments are both extremely impressive.

I suppose that it's quite clear that I didn't find Real Steel to be that strong of a film. However, I could see the targeted audience being much more interested in the plot. The action scenes between the robots are very entertaining and will prove to be for all age groups. The remainder of the movie utilizes the positive messages on trust, faith, family, and friendship, similar to any Disney movie you've seen recently. The visual and audio departments dazzle beautifully, so if you intend on checking this one out, be prepared to be completely immersed. Despite the awesome special effects, it doesn't fully make up for the plot and connections between characters. The attempt with cheesy dialogue between Max and Charlie actually pushes us farther away from the characters. Real Steel is entertaining during the fight scenes, otherwise older audiences won't be fooled by the tacky dialogue and characters. However, younger viewers are sure to have a blast with this one.

My Rating = Three Stars

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