Thursday, October 27, 2011

Movie Review - Real Steel

Movie Review - Real Steel

Here's a confession, I really don't like boxing films, actually, I really don't like boxing, I've never seen a Rocky, not 1,not  2, not 3,you get the idea, I've never managed to get through Raging Bull and Fight Club is a mystery to me. I did manage to make it through Million Dollar Baby and deeply regretted it, it was a great film but I really don't like boxing.
The obvious question is why? I have no aversion to violence, cinematic or real, I enjoy the occasional martial arts movies and had no problem learning aikido and karate as a young man, I suspect it's not the fighting per se, I'm a fan of violence as a quick way to resolve arguments and unlike dialogue it avoids the need to look interested in the other party's point of view. I'm deeply impressed by the fitness needed for the sport of kings (how many kings were boxers?) but I don't like the percussive, keep-slugging-away element. That discomfort, not mine, more generally, the whole hitting another human in the face thing, is the back story to Real Steel where remote controlled robots beat seven bells out of each other for the vicarious pleasure of the screaming hordes.

Hugh Jackman plays a trainer/operator of fighting robots, a one-time boxer himself, a multiple loser, who "could have been a contender" but has made a series of bad decisions.
He's introduced early through a series of cliches, all signposting the imminent arrival of standard movie plot line number four... to whit, down at heel one-time shining hope is retrieved from a tragic downward spiral by either 'a winningly cute and trusting kid' or a 'despite herself ever-loving lady' (both in this one) and he ends the film as the redeemed hero we all secretly want him to be.

So, it's a predictable, schmaltzy redemption tale with cgi boxing robots, heavily troweled-on moral and ethical issues, stereotypical nasties and equally stereotypical goodies. Surprise! I really enjoyed it, despite everything I've just said this is a really likeable movie, the acting is great, the music works a treat, the cast seem to be having fun, the effects (which make the film) are genuinely excellent, believable, well thought-through, seamlessly integrated and visually stunning.
It is very, very, very rare for me to laugh at a film and this was no exception but I did catch myself smiling with genuine pleasure and Her LadyStuffyness not only stayed awake and attentive throughout but joined me in finding this a really enjoyable movie. It's fun, it's not heavy, it's impressive, you care about the people, heck you even care about the robot. It's a great night out.

I still don't like boxing though.

A haiku for the ring

Box clever, box wise
Beware, beseeching eyes that
Melt a heart of steel


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