Real Steel (Blu-ray)

Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo in Real Steel

REAL STEEL isn’t anything groundbreaking or original nor is it going to win any awards.  But as far as mindless popcorn entertainment goes, REAL STEEL is pure brilliance.

Set in the near future where Robots have replaced human boxers, Hugh Jackman is Charlie Kenton, a broke, washed up boxer who now operates a robot in a very low level boxing circuit.  Unforeseen tragic circumstances, finds Charlie with his 11-year-old son Max (Dakota Goyo) for the summer.   Forced to drag the boy through some seedy underground robot boxing matches, the two find common ground for their love of the sport.  After a near death experience, Max finds an old sparing robot in a junkyard.  Charlie’s boxing skills coupled with the fact that their little robot Atom was built to take a beating, they quickly rise through the ranks into the professional circuit.  Due to popular demand and Max’s over zealous public challenge to the champion, unlikely Atom gets his shot at the title against undefeated, massively bigger and technologically advanced Zeus.

Hugh Jackman in Real Steel

Many have been calling REAL STEEL, “ROCKY with Robots.” While that is a perfectly fine explanation I think it’s important not to forget another Sylvester Stallone film called OVER THE TOP.  While REAL STEEL is an underdog boxing film (ROCKY) it also is about an estranged father and son duo that draw closer together truck driving across country competing in arm wrestling robot boxing matches (OVER THE TOP).

Hugh Jackman in Real Steel

Hugh Jackman is perfectly cast as Charlie.  His character is pretty much scum – he’s selfish, stupid, doesn’t care about others and even practically sells his own son.  But Jackman is so full of charming charisma that he makes an unlikable character likeable.  His despicable actions walk the line of being brutal but somehow manage to stay in that safe PG-13 area that the whole family can enjoy.  Evangeline Lilly (from LOST fame) doesn’t have a whole lot of screen time but her character does provide a much needed grounding for Jackman’s chaotic character as his established love interest.  Dakota Goyo is exactly what you want from your kid hero.  He is playful and genuine.  Director Shaw Levy wisely allows the young actor to just be a kid.  From his awesomely synchronized hip hop dance moves with his robot partner to his humorous screams into a mic at full capacity hyping up a crowd, Goyo owns his presence.  But his authenticity is heightened through his love for his fighting robot Atom.  The film smartly keeps the robots mechanically operated by the humans, either by remote, voice command or shadow boxing, so we as an audience don’t begin to feel bad for them when they are getting the sparks beat out of them.  However, Atom is given a slightly more human look with a touch of a smile so we can get that hint of a sympathetic feeling to continue to root for.

Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo in Real Steel

From an abandoned zoo to an underground industrial building, Levy makes sure all the boxing arena locations are exotically different and fun like a Street Fighter video game.  I apologize to all the gamers for not knowing a more current game to reference.  Thumping with excitement, the soundtrack mixes rap and rock that perfectly matches the tone of the film.  REAL STEAL is predictable and even outright ridiculous but if you go in with the right mindset, I guarantee a terrifically fun time.

BLU-RAY REVIEW 

Video: (1080p High Definition Widescreen 2.35:1) The colors are sharp and the destinations of the boxing locations are beautiful.

Audio:  (7.1 DTS-HD MA) Every metal on metal smash, roar of the crowd and thumping soundtrack are perfectly balanced.  Your sound system was built for this film.

Real Steel Second Screen: Ringside with Director Shawn Levy:  You have the option of syncing this to your iPad or computer for a more in depth and hi-tech commentary that sometimes branches off with behind the scenes moments.  Levy gives a passionate and informative commentary and is infectious with his love for making movies.

Countdown to the Fight – The Charlie Kenton Story (13:51):  Everyone stays in characters while ESPN does interviews along with past footage as they cover the story leading up to the final fight. 

Atom, Zeus in Real Steel

Making of Metal Valley (14:14):  I’m always amazed at how much time, money, effort and man power a film is willing to put toward for about ten seconds of action.  I think people interested in the movie magic will really enjoy this one.

Building the Bots (5:38): They built 19 robots and explain how they mixed visual effects with the real thing to give more believability.

Sugar Ray Leonard: Cornerman’s Champ (6:19): Interviews and video about how Sugar Ray helped prepare Jackman and the choreography for the film.

Deleted & Extended Scenes (17:49):  Only two scenes but the first is an extended scene and the second is a long compilation of an entire storyline that was wisely cut from the film.

Bloopers (2:36):  Another lame blooper reel.

OVERALL 3.5
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