2011-10-07

Real Steel – God Will And Has Fought For You

by Yo Snyder

It’d be easy to write off Real Steel as a silly movie. After all, it’s about boxing robots. It’s Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots the Movie. Well, yeah, it is kind of that, but it’s also much more than that. In fact, the movie isn’t so much about the robots as it is about a man and his son. Despite the draw of robots putting the beat-down on each other, it’s really a story about the people. In many ways what Transformers lacked in coherence, heart and character, Real Steel has in abundance. Granted, much of what takes place is fairly cliched. You won’t be surprised by anything that happens, but you will be entertained. You’ll likely leave with a smile on your face, and that’s because even cliched stories, when they’re told well, are still enjoyable.

Considering the fairly silly premise for the movie, a lot is placed upon the shoulder of Hugh Jackman to make it work. Yeah, he plays the cliched role of a “not-so-nice-guy who finds he has a heart of gold after-all”, but you know what, he plays it well. There’s plenty not to like about his character, but you can’t help rooting for him anyway. A lot of that has to do with his kid. Yup, another cliche. “The son he barely knew that helps change his life”, but again, the role is played so well that you don’t mind the cliche. Dakota Goyo does a good job of playing a kid as, well, a kid. He really does seem like a genuine kid doing genuine kid things and reacting in genuine kid ways; and that makes it fun to watch, especially when he and Jackman are together. On top of those cliches, you also have the “washed-up fighter with one last chance at glory” sports cliche going on, but again, it’s told well and its enjoyable. Finally, the robots are done well. They’re distinctive and despite not having a voice and not doing much other than following orders, the hero bot of the film, Atom, has a personality. Hes a character as much as any of the people, and that was amply shown by the fact that people act our screening were clapping and cheering for him whenever he won a fight.

Still, the at the heart of this story isn’t a robot, but a relationship between a father and son. It’d be as sappy and cheesy as it sounds (and on occasion it is) if it weren’t for the strong performances. Even though you know the beats this story will make, even though you know where it will end up, you cant help but care about Charlie and his boy. My favorite moment between them is when Charlie is asking his son what it is he wanted from him, and he responds “I want you to fight for me; thats all I ever wanted”. That’s powerful stuff because how many of us have felt the same way? There’s just something about know that someone cares about us so much that they’d put up a fight for us that, well, it just feels good. It makes us feel like were worth something. Well you know what the greatest example of that is; Jesus Christ dying on the cross. That was God’s way of saying “I love you so much I’m willing to fight for you. I love you so much I’m willing to die for you.” The epic struggle between good and evil came to a head at the cross. The fate of your soul is what was at stake at the cross, and Jesus did everything, including dying and then conquering death, to win the day. If no one else ever does, Jesus says he will fight for you because you matter to him.

Plenty of people have probaby decided Real Steel is just a silly-looking movie after seeing the trailers, and that’s because its hard to convey just how much heart the movie has while at the same time showing that it has boxing robots. However, if you’re willing to give it a chance, you’ll find a movie that’s genuinely entertaining and actually quite moving. It has characters that you really care about, and despite all the cliches that flood it, it’s told with such sincerity you can’t help but get caught up in it. I also have to give kudos for the way all the future tech was integrated into the film. It’s tough to pull off a near future look that’s also plausible, but this movie does that so well that it feels believable; yeah, even despite the fact it’s about giant, boxing robots. I was a expecting a movie that at the very least would be fun, and it is that. Its also got a big heart, and that I didnt expect. It’s basically Rocky with robots, but somehow, some way, that works.