Wednesday, 20 November 2013
Dads and Robots: Reel Steel
Never judge a film by it's trailer - that is exactly what I did with Real Steel and I nearly missed out on what is a moving, funny and heart-warming film. Damn it, this film made me cry and that is probably the biggest compliment I can give it.
At it's heart Real Steel is a father and son flick and in that lies a hint to why it affected me so much. What makes this film so interesting is the story of Charlie Kenton (Wolverine) and his estranged 11 year old son Max Kenton (Dakota Goyo, a better Jake Lloyd... you know, the kid from the Star Wars: Episode 1) which is at times very difficult to watch.
Max is a washed up ex-boxer who controls fighting robots - and he is very bad at it. For the first hour or so, we watch his robots get destroyed and Max take advantage of the little good will that he has left from people who care about him. Even when his ex-baby mama dies, Max is only interested in his son because of the potential financial gain. I'll tell you what, Hugh Jackman is a very good actor because in lesser hands his character would stray too far into dick territory and lose the audience. With that said Jackman is charismatic and the transformation he experiences throughout this film is believable and surprisingly subtle.
The trailer sells this film as a happier family version of Transformers and like Mr Bay's creation, I didn't expect it to have much of a story - so to watch this almost unvarnished story of a father that initially doesn't care for his son and only sees him as a means to an end was oddly refreshing. The film is a little over 2 hours and throughout that time the two are piecing together their relationship until you get to the inevitable happy ending. And that happy ending has been earned, I felt like I have been put in the ring with one of these robots.
For the little boy in me, it was pretty cool watching robots beat each other up in a context that doesn't involve the end of the world. The robot fighting was an after thought for me when the film finished, not because the visuals were bad or I found the fight scenes boring - it was simply because the film really wasn't about the bots for me.
This film was a huge surprise, It made me all warm and fuzzy and, the kicker, it made me miss my dad. It made me think of all the arguments we had and all the shit I used to bitch about - it also made me realise how lucky I was that he was there to listen to me bitch. It made me think about how I never told my dad that I loved him and by the end of this film I realised what a huge mistake that was and how I may regret it for the rest of my life.
But yeh, very good film.