'Real Steel' Review By Corey W.

Real Steal grasps a concept both intriguing and ridiculous and somehow mixes both together to make an unexpected surprise.
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Visuals
2011 seems to be the year for the underdogs. All of these films that look as if they are going to be washed-up, predictable, and extremely bad turn out to be the best-of-the-best when it comes to entertainment; while others, that look to be worth-your-while, have been turning out as surprising disappointments. Running at a little over two hours, Real Steel has a perfect amount of time to steal the audience's attention and provide them with a rousing theater experience.

By all means, Real Steel is far from being perfect. The first half of the film works hard to build interesting characters, a decent-enough storyline, and a couple of conflicts to go with everything. But, the last half of the film seems to fall apart drastically and it's never as exciting or well-done as the first half of the film. The first half of Real Steel is loads of fun and explosively entertaining. The action-sequences were very well-made and the whole underground fighting aspect was as intriguing as it was with the first Fast and the Furious movie. It's too bad the film looses that touch along the way, faster than I wasn't hoping for.

The development of the characters were all surprisingly good. Hugh Jackman gives a decent performance as Charlie; a washed-up broke desperate for a chance at the big-bucks again after loosing it all when boxing went heavy-metal. The character has accepted the change and certainly still has the passion for the new form of boxing, but just can't catch a break with any bot he finds. When giving the opportunity at one-hundred grand, he takes the chance immediately and only has to do one simple thing: watch the son he's never met for an entire summer. At first not bonding whatsoever, as the film progresses, you can see the similarities in both characters.

After loosing the one bot that could bring him back in the game, Charlie finds himself screwed with nothing when owing everything to just about everyone he knows. Drastically, this changes, when Charlie and his son find a spotter-robot that literally pulls off the impossible. It's a story of an underdog...well, underbot that is.

What would've been a really cool take to the film is showing Charlie's past as a boxer and how he reacted to the change in boxing from humans to machines. Imagine how better of a film this would have been if the film had done flashback sequences to how the world reacted to this change in such a famous sport and how boxer's adapted to the new way boxing was matched. You can all say over and over how idiotic the concept of Real Steel actually is, but the way technology is processing nowadays and how it's pretty much doing everything for us now, who says technology can't create a machine to play sports for us? Certainly this is the age of technology and we've only seen the beginning. Sports might just be played differently in the future. Whether it's played between us or robots is in question, but the movie doesn't take place in the future and unless you can predict it calling Real Steel a film with a stupid concept is stupid on your part.

The big reason I wanted the whole flashback sequence is because I felt the movie didn't explain itself well enough. I wanted to learn more on how boxing changed. The movie only mentions that humans wanted the bigger show, but that doesn't nearly explain who came up with the idea to design robots for boxing. Who designed the first boxing robot? What was the sport like when it first started? How was Charlie when the new boxing format began? Too many questions on this subject that one might not think of when watching this flick, but instead, one would rather know.

The performances in the movie are good for the most part, but not always. Some scenes between Charlie and his son, especially the dramatic ones, just were not performed that well. While Dakota Goyo, who plays the young kid Max, does a great job delivering the cute humor to the audience, there are the few scenes were his performance doesn't hold up that well. Same thing goes for Hugh Jackman, who does give a good performance overall, but it could have been a whole lot better based on were we've seen him before.

Evangeline Lilly, who we all remember (well, the fans!) as the beautiful Kate from what is my favorite series, "Lost", does a really good job here. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't nice to see her on the big-screen and that her performance wasn't good. Her performance as Charlie's good friend/love-interest was certainly nice to see and she was definitely a good call on the casting director's part. In all honesty, she gives a performance as good as Jackman's, if not better. Certainly, from this, I do hope to see her around a lot more often. She could definitely be something big in the movie-business. She has both the talent and looks.

As fun and exciting as the first half of the movie is, the film never really looses that touch completely, but once the film's tone changes from dark to a little lighter its not necessarily as good. The underground aspect of the film brought a big sense of thrill and excitement whereas the big leagues half of the film only brought predictability. However, Real Steel is just an October popcorn flick; it being somewhat predictable isn't all so bad. The first half of Real Steel is still much better though. Act II only contains action-sequences not as well-made and dialogue that doesn't live up to anything higher than worthy.

Real Steel flows quite well from start to finish. Never once did I look at my phone to check the time, even though the last half did drag just a bit. The fighting between the robots is a lot of fun but everything else going on in the atmosphere around all that, between the humans, just doesn't live up the greatest. The dialogue between the characters is cheesy all-round the entire flick. The movie does have a serious-tone to it, but never could I personally take anything seriously due to its lack in dialogue. The amount of cheese can sometimes provide a giggle or two, but the scenes that are supposed to be dramatic and realistic are instead hilarious and unreal. Then again, this is just a popcorn flick and asking too much of it would only take away the "popcorn-flick" term.

The one thing keeping Real Steel half a star better is its poor ending. The movie builds up so much for all of the characters and the movie ends off with you knowing absolutely nothing on what happens between them. The results from the final battle were a little ridiculous too and it was an unknown purpose to why the writers ended it off that way. Because of this ending, I walked out a little unsatisfied with Real Steel. What resurrected my excitement on the flick was discussing the action-sequences with a friend of mine on our way home.

Real Steel is just a fun action-flick. Certainly these robots don't go through epic battles like the Transformers did in Michael Bay's recent installment, but then again, you can't expect them to. These robots don't use guns, missiles, and jetpacks. They use their steel fists and fight their way to victory. Even though Real Steel contains a fresh, intriguing concept, the atmosphere of the humans around these destructive robots kills off a lot of positive remarks this movie could have grasped. Don't expect too much out of the film except for some fun action-sequences. If you plan on seeing it in theaters, pay the extra cash for the IMAX because it'll definitely bring out the destruction. If not willing to pay that, I'd wait for it to be available for rental.

Thanks for the read!

-Written by Corey Wood

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Comments (61)

  1. Zak Lee Ferguson

    @corey i loved it for what it was- popcorn mainstream farce

    3 years agoby @Zak-Lee-FergusonFlag

  2. skywise

    @corey I really enjoy your reviews and tend to agree with your opinions most of the time.

    3 years agoby @skywiseFlag

  3. Corey W.

    @skywise Glad we see eye-to-eye on this one. Thanks.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  4. Forrestgump1

    i loved this movie ..review up soon

    3 years agoby @forrestgump1Flag

  5. skywise

    @corey This is an excellent review and pretty much spot on with my own experience with it.

    3 years agoby @skywiseFlag

  6. Corey W.

    @mattbierwagen Well thanks man. I still enjoyed this one a lot despite my rating. :D

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  7. Worth5Bucks

    @corey hah even though you gave this 3 stars, after reading it, it made me look forward to the movie even more. Nice one man, i guess your just that good :P

    3 years agoby @mattbierwagenFlag

  8. Corey W.

    @stoned Thanks man.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  9. TheStonedReviewer

    will be seeing this in the near future, looks enjoyable, i like robots and i like fighting, i like robots that fight! (Transformers doesn't count :)) Great review man!

    3 years agoby @stonedFlag

  10. Corey W.

    @moviegeek I hope so. I don't wanna wait till 2012. I wanna see it the years is released...or i'll get mad lol

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  11. moviegeek

    @corey Well boxofficemojo says it releases WIDE on xmas day, so fingers crossed :)

    3 years agoby @moviegeekFlag

  12. Corey W.

    Just answered my own question..

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  13. Corey W.

    @moviegeek Awww! Its still a 2011 release then, right? Well, yeah, of course.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  14. moviegeek

    @corey It's my Christmas gift to myself. But seeing as how the trailer said "This January", it probably won't be in wide release until then :(( sniff. Oh well, six more showings of Tintin to pass the time ;D

    3 years agoby @moviegeekFlag

  15. Corey W.

    @slysnide You could just read about it, but not sure if Wiki would have all the details.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  16. Corey W.

    @moviegeek Ha. He hadn't even seen the trailer for Real Steal before seeing it. He did like it more than me, though. Knowing him he'll end up loving War Horse. I can understand why some wouldn't want to see it based on the trailer. I, on the other hand, cannot wait for the movie.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  17. moviegeek

    @slysnide If you don't watch number 2, you won't appreciate number 3. @corey

    @corey I would say find a new buddy. lol, jk. To each his own I suppose. I could guarantee him that there is rarely, if ever, a Spielberg film that tries too hard. that's the beauty of his work. Besides, I bet your buddy laughed hysterically at Real Steel's trailer before walking out satisfied with the final product :P

    3 years agoby @moviegeekFlag

  18. slysnide

    If the time ever comes to see 1&3, then I'll just read a wikipedia synopsis of 2. Thanks @corey.

    3 years agoby @slysnideFlag

  19. Corey W.

    @slysnide TF2 was god-awful. Anyone who liked that movie doesn't require must taste other than badly crafted action-sequences. I'd tell you to skip two and just watch 1 and 3...but that wouldn't make much sense.

    I can't wait for War Horse, though the film didn't receive the best reaction from the audience last night during the previews of Real Steel. What do you have to say about that @moviegeek? I was shocked when my buddy said to me that the film looked as if it were trying much too hard.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  20. slysnide

    @corey: "T2" was the one of the three which seemed to have the most mixed response on here. And now articles say Spielberg is interested in doing a 4th. Or that the studio wants him to helm it. Either way, he can do better elsewhere. Spielberg's Transformers I expect would put the others to shame.

    3 years agoby @slysnideFlag

  21. Corey W.

    @slysnide Transformer 2 and 3 are the only ones I paid to see. Transformers 2 was so bad I almost despised wanting to see the third one. But....the trailer, of course, had me and @moviegeek's review intrigued my interest a lot....even though he only gave it a 3/5

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  22. moviegeek

    @slysnide I don't usually edit things after I post reviews just because I can spot mistakes pretty easily on Word.

    3 years agoby @moviegeekFlag

  23. slysnide

    @corey: I've noticed the reaction to the trilogy has been mixed here based on the MW average score cards. I didn't read most of the reviews outside of our core group cause the saga didn't interest me at all, so this would make the first major trilogy I skipped out on theatrically.

    @moviegeek: I edit every review I post majorly at least 3-4 times within the first twenty minutes after posting them. For some reason it's easier for me to spot the flaws when I can see the whole thing than through that medium sized comment box we type them in. PS: I have no idea what the large comment box would be like, but the ones for reviews seems like a medium.

    @dan1 and the rest since I probably shouldn't @mention you two twice in the same comment: I got a basic Verizon Cell which can take pictures and store them {no idea how to get them online}, a contact list, various ringtones included, and other unactivated options cause my parents chose not to purchase said upgrades when they bought it for me. But the interface for those features are still there, just blank and waiting to be installed. They got it for me for Xmas '08 I think just cause I'd call from random pay phones to tell them where I was since nobody else calls me. Seriously, I don't know what plan I'm on, but I never run into issues of running out of minutes or battery power, nor the risk of running up the cost. Yep, I got ten contacts, but none ever call vice-versa. No reason to when they're hundreds of miles away all school year; which reminds me I should call my friend who typically returns every two weeks. He's not been back since Labor Day weekend so I gotta see what gives with that. I like that my landline is right beside this computer.

    3 years agoby @slysnideFlag

  24. Corey W.

    @thedude-abides Thanks man. If you ever see it on TNT in the next couple of years, just watch it then to say you did. :P

    Ha, yeah, me too. This new scale feels much more satisfying. Before I'd always be back and forth with my rating not knowing what to do. 3 stars is more than enough for a movie like this. But yes, I'm hearing great things about The Ides of March. Super stoked!

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  25. thedude-abides

    Yeah, I've no interest whatsoever in seeing this. Great review, nonetheless, @corey. I'm loving the new grading scale. Hope you enjoy The Ides of March later. Looking forward to your review.

    3 years agoby @thedude-abidesFlag

  26. Corey W.

    @moviegeek I meant is I liked the characters, they were made well enough to be likable, but they didn't have much explanations on a lot of things. Like the ending and stuff before the film started. -__-

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  27. moviegeek

    @corey Kind of. But only as two separate thoughts :P

    3 years agoby @moviegeekFlag

  28. Corey W.

    @moviegeek Blah! You know what I mean....you do, right? lol

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  29. moviegeek

    @corey "They were well-developed but not enough explanations."

    Well that makes sense :P

    3 years agoby @moviegeekFlag

  30. Corey W.

    @moviegeek Yeah, that's not a good tie-in for the film's sake. Thats pretty much why I stand by my statement where the film is only good for the action and not the atmosphere of the humans around them. The characters were just....eh. They were well-developed but not enough explanations.

    And hmmm...iPhone 5 it is then. It'll be worth the wait.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag