This was an endurance test for me – a really handsomely dressed, digitally spectacular endurance test. It’s sort of a robotic Rocky meets and estranged father son redemption tale. I’ve seen all of this before and got bored pretty quickly with everything going on – but I say that only because this film is not targeted at me – it’s targeted at pre teen and teen boys primarily. Sure there’s the hallmarks of touchstone family drama throughout and it’s all done very glossily (this is one very expensive production) but there’s nothing new here.
All the major plot points are so projected from the start that you know where this is going and everything that’s going to happen from within 5 minutes of its duration. And its 127 minutes long so it’s a solid length.
Hugh overdoes it all the way but that’s okay as his main protagonist, Dakota Goyo, is just as theatrical and this story calls for it. This is a hyper reality so it works and the film does shamelessly and flamboyantly wear its heart on its sleeve – and it’s a really big heart beating at the core of REAL STEEL.
Having said that – the digital effects work is 2nd to none, the robots look and move beautifully and even more fluidly than Transformers. The action sequences are punchy and energetic – wrestling and boxing fans will love it. The time spent on giving “Adam” a real sense of character is the real achievement here (I had echoes of Brad Bird’s supreme cartoon THE IRON GIANT running through me while watching this) as they do pull it off.
.. And the other big big win here is Shawn Levy – this is the best thing he has ever directed – it’s a confident direction, assured and commercial. The solid steadicam use, clean set ups and big screen savvy photography are a real triumph and its been a while since I’ve seen a film that really does have such a polish on it.
If you’ve never seen films like ROCKY, SHORT CIRCUIT, THE IRON GIANT et al then you’ll get a kick out of REAL STEEL.
..and don’t worry, rumour has it that a REAL STEEL 2 is in the works.
REAL STEEL hits BLU RAY, DOWNLOAD and DVD on MARCH 28, 2012.