‘Real Steel’ is Real Stupid

by Eric Melin on October 7, 2011

in Video Reviews

This review originally appeared on KSNT-NBC, KTKA-ABC, and KTMJ-FOX,Kansas First News.

Man oh man, is this movie stupid.

Now—it’s not like I expected anything different. I mean, “Real Steel” is basically Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots crossed with Sylvester Stallone’s arm wrestling movie “Over the Top,” crossed with, well, “Rocky.” But even with my sense of humor firmly intact, I’m not sure that I’ve seen a more crassly manipulative movie this year.

Hugh Jackman plays the worst deadbeat Dad ever—a man who sells the rights to raise his son, puts the kid into the most dangerous situations ever, and then is magically forgiven through the power of redemptive robot fighting.

The movie is supposed to be about his little boy gaining confidence and fighting against all odds. I say “supposed to be” because that’s what all the inspiring music cues and scenes of people crying tears of joy are telling me. But it’s not.

“Real Steel” is as cold and calculating as movies get. It’s a glossy, soulless piece of junk that wants you to cheer along, but it doesn’t earn one ounce of real anything.

That said, the CGI robots are pretty cool.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 dbmurray October 7, 2011 at 8:56 pm

I saw this earlier today, and pretty much agree the script and execution of this movie is ludicrous. It’s not a non-stop onslaught on the senses like one of the Transformers films (take your pick), but that’s the only redeeming quality.

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2 Eric Melin October 8, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Dave- What I found interesting is how they tried to shoehorn in this “heartwarming” family drama where non existed. Its like they wanted Jackman’s Dad to hardened to the extreme – perhaps to make the redemption more “modern” – and thought that would dovetail nicely with the aggressiveness of the robot fighting. Like “Warrior,” its family tension heightened to the EXTREME for our extreme modern times. But with the insane amount of absurd silliness going on – Evangeline Lily has a crush on the creepy old guy who takes advantage of her all the time, punk rock robot cockfighters who look like they walked off the set of “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” – it just makes the “hard-nosed” Dad character even more ridiculous.

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3 Svenner80 November 21, 2011 at 4:13 am

As often the review says more about the reviewer than the reviewed object.

You find this naive, childish big-fun movie cold, calculating and the script plain silly?

Man, this is a movie for 12 year old boys. And they will certainly love it! And they love it for reason their parents will like very much. It’s entertaining, it has a simple still involving story, it has good actors, it has some clashes without ever being brutal or violent. It’s like kids trashing their toy robots.

If you find that calculating then everything is calculated in this world. You may have this view but don’t judge others by your own standards.

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4 Eric Melin November 21, 2011 at 10:34 am

Svenner80 – Sure the movie is aimed at 12 year old boys, and in that respect, it’s an even bigger failure. Hugh Jackman’s father character in this movie does some of the worst things possible to his son and the film treats them like harmless comic asides. When the kid does finally begin to dream , he dreams BIG and unrealistically and gets pushy and annoying. Then his father caves in and earns the respect of his kid FOR THAT REASON ONLY, at which point we are all meant to sob at the sight of his immature Dad reliving his youth by shadowboxing a robot. When I said the film didn’t earn any of those tears, I meant it. If you’re going to have an “inspirational” movie for kids, make it actually inspirational. Make it about something. This movie teaches kids nothing but to forgive their deadbeat fathers and become stubborn and idealistic in the face of adversity. There is nothing about real determination and hard work in there.

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