Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Film Review: "Real Steel" (2011)

One of the film’s tagline reads "Champions aren't born. They're made." This sums up the premise of Real Steel. This Science Fiction film directed by Shawn Levy, based on the 1956 short story Steel by Richard Matheson and adapted by John Gatins. Set in the near future, where robot boxing is a top sport, a struggling promoter feels he's found a champion in a discarded robot named Atom. During his hopeful rise to the top, he discovers he has an 11-year-old son who wants to know his father.

The short story was originally adapted by Dan Gilroy and was purchased by DreamWorks for $850,000 between 2003 and 2005. The project was one of 17 that DreamWorks took from Paramount Pictures when they split in 2008. Director Peter Berg expressed interest in the project in mid-2009 but ultimately dropped out. Levy was attached to the project in September 2009, and Jackman was cast in November. In the same month, Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider at DreamWorks greenlit the project. Les Bohem and Jeremy Leven reworked Gilroy's screenplay, but in 2009 John Gatins worked on a new draft. When Levy joined the project, he worked with Gatins to revise the screenplay, spending a total of six weeks fine-tuning the script. With a budget of $110 million, filming began in June 2010 and ended in October. The animatronic robots were created by Legacy Effects, and the computer effects were done by Industrial Light & Magic.

The film stars Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo and Evangeline Lilly. The cast performance gave terrific performances. Jackman was outstanding as the charisma driven, stubborn Charlie Kenton. For the role Jackson said that his father "was a boxer in the army and he wanted to make performance look good for his dad." Well I can say if I was his father, I would be impressed. Goyo gave a terrific performance as Max Kenton. He had a magical quality which made him the film's central heart and made him get as much or more spotlight than his co-star. Finally Lilly gave a fantastic performance as Bailey Tallet, the kind, compassionate voice of reson and love interest for Jackman’s Charlie. Lilly and Jackman had a near perfect relationship and chemistry that made me believe that these two characters had been friends for a long time. This quality is rarely seen or even considered by two actors when portraying relationships.

Real Steel, though innovative with its stunning robot fight scenes, is nothing more than pure 2000s make believe. The film’s plot is gimmicky, heavy-handed and cliché, all because of the direction of Shawn Levy, the man responsible for bringing us some of the most tawdry movies of recent years, such as the ridiculously awful Cheaper by the Dozen (2003). He has an instinct for making serious emotions look tawdry. While the film may look good now, but it will fade like every other one of his movies and every "Hollywood" movies ever made.

Simon says Real Steel receives:

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