Real Steel | Gamerillaz

Real Steel

Real Steel

About 10 years ago a show called Robot Wars appeared on BBC2 and became a massive hit with male children and retired electronics engineers alike. The format was simple…teams of pudgy middle aged men and their embarrassed-looking offspring pitting frenzied homemade robots with cool names like Recyclops and Sir Killalot against each other in front of a baying crowd and non-rapey crackhead Craig Charles. The concept was sound – who wouldnt want to watch two robots beating seven shades of molten shite out of each other – but alas the technology barrier proved a bit of an issue and watching two modified lawnmowers slowly pushing each other off a ledge turned out to be less fun than it sounded, despite the mad max pyrotechnics and delirious commentators. But what I saw in my head when I heard the words “robot” and “wars” looked exactly like Real Steel.

Playing out like Rocky meets the ABC Warriors, it’s totally predictable, manipulative and cheesy but also a perfectly machined and hugely entertaining mix of hot robot-on-robot action, male bonding and transcendent redemption-through-competition. Hugh Jackman (frazzled ex-boxer and roboteer fallen on hard times) teams up with mop-headed reluctant son and reclaimed sparring bot Atom to take one last shot at glory. While most of the fighting machines are mindless drones directly controlled by human operators with lumpy joypads, Atom is voice and motion controlled, a bit like xbox kinect (except a bit more reliable) He also seems to have an almost¬†imperceptible spark of sentience behind his sweetly dumb exterior, in contrast to the other machines, which are no more than lumbering puppets. It gives him an advantage in the ring, where his endurance and superior maneuverability allows him to take on robots twice his size like an autistic Barry McGuigan dancing around a zombie Nickolai Valuev.

Atom is the undisputed star of the show here, the little guy has more charm in his smallest rivet than all the human cast put together. While Jackman is perfectly adequate, the kid is a generic irritant and Liv Tyler-alike Evangaline Lilly seems to have been cast purely as a sad-eyed testament to the jackman character’s hetrosexuality. But the humans arent what real Steel is about…its about massive metal monsters smashing each other’s faces off with sledgehammer fists. The CGI is excellent and there’s more enjoyable robotic combat in one of Real Steel’s viceral beatdowns than in all three transformers movies combined. This is how you do it Michael Bay you charlatan.

More cynical viewers will probably gripe about the film’s hackneyed story arc and occasional (minor) drift into schmaltz but what do you expect from a Dreamworks pic about boxing robots? A robotic “Raging Bull” ¬†which ends up with a morbidly obese Hugh Jackman simulating sex acts on embarrassed looking robots in a sleazy las vegas dive? Not happening. Although that might also be great. Anyway the judges decision…great fun, great effects and underneath that shiny metal exterior it’s got heart dammit.


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