REAL STEEL (2011)

TMG Scale 3.0     P Factor 0.0     MPAA Rating: R
Starring Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goya

Real Steel? TMG says Real Stupid. This movie is just dumber than dirt from the get go. I am sure some eleven year old boys who are into sci-fi and robots will think this film is really cool.  But, if we judge any film by that standard, snot on a grasshopper’s back is entertaining and cool too.

Hugh Jackman plays a forty something eleven year old named Charlie Kenton who never grew up from playing with toys. The year is around 2020 and apparently the world has descended into a bunch of violence crazed degenerates who never bathe and spill beer everywhere and all love robo-boxing.  This is a great start for a film targeted at pre-teens. During the scenes at the “Crash Palace” I really thought I was watching some outtakes from Waterworld (1995)  and Dennis Hopper would come back from the dead with a black eye patch on. This just goes to prove what a piece of junk $100 million can buy you in a movie.

Charlie  is a former boxer, irresponsible no-mind, who builds boxing robots with money from loan sharks. His lucky day hits when he  learns his ex-girlfriend has died and has left him with his biological  eleven year-old son Max (Goyo).   For the good of no one, Max’s Aunt Debra wants to adopt Max,  so Charlie makes a deal with her uber wealthy husband for Debra to keep Max for $100,000.00. Max’s loving Aunt Debra then immediately turns him back over to Charlie for the summer while she and hubby vacation in Europe.  This is all just dandy.

Little Max turns out to be a way too smart, way beyond his years smart ass of a kid, who of course is a genius at building half-ton, artificially intelligent robots.  He runs from county fair to county fair with dear old Dad building and fighting robots against skin heads and the dregs of society–which is pretty much the entire earth at this point. All the while, Charlie manages a ridiculously contrived relationship with the daughter of his former boxing trainer. In the interim,  we get a 2010 film tech adaptation of father and son playing and updated 1964 era version of Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots.

Charlie and Max, down on their last dollar, build a scrap heap robo-fighter from a junkyard and name him Atom. No spoiler at all what happens next as they rise to the top of the robo-boxing world and find love.  I wanted to just puke. If this terribly written plot and cliche driven dialogue represents the future of anything, I don’t want to live that long.

I did notice a few things along the way. Goya looks and acts amazingly like young Mark Sway (Brad Renfro)  in The Client from 1994. I wondered if they were actually brothers. (Let’s hope the promising young Goya fares better than Renfro who died at 25 from a drug overdose.) I noticed, oddly enough, that all cars in 2020 all look like 1990’s models. I also noticed that giving an eleven year old boy a line like “Anything you don’t need, you just throw away” is not even heart inspiring in a totally absurd movie. One hour in, I was bored to death and was frankly surprised few adults were walking out. Perhaps they did not realize films like 50/50 and The Way and The Help were showing right next door. Real Steel even made Thor look inspiring, well written fun and believeable…and I didn’t think that was even possible.

And what is with all the scenes of prairie windmills in this movie? It really looked like  the Director was trying to make some political statement on energy for no reason. Fact is,  if those absurdly inefficient bird killers on the Kansas plains are still running in 2020, we are all in real trouble. Maybe we will all be wearing sleeveless shirts, go un-bathed, and drink beer all day while playing with robots and reading Al Gore’s biography. Nah. . . . I don’t think so. It might be cool if Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots comes back though.

 

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