REVIEW: Real Steel

26 03 2012

What’s more American than virtually remaking “Rocky,” replacing Sylvester Stallone with a robot, set in the heartlands?  That’s “Real Steel” in a nutshell, a Hugh Jackman vehicle that director Shawn Levy proclaims as a classic expression of Americana.  Well, for starters, America deserves better than this.

Levy is under the delusion that his movie has a place on the American kitchen table next to the apple pie; I’m here to tell you that the only place “Real Steel” belongs with apple pie is when the dessert is stale, rotten, and in a garbage bag.  Its tired, unoriginal story combined with mildly stimulating visuals make for a lackluster watch.  Levy also gets a bit genre-confused, wedding the sports film to the sci-fi with little success.  I still think there’s hope in genre cross-pollination, but I hope no one looks back and thinks that “Real Steel” or “Cowboys & Aliens” were ahead of their time.  Both are feeble, flailing attempts to give a little shimmer to tarnished brands.

However, I suppose it is rather effective at communicating the age-old American myths.  Any deadbeat dad, in this case Hugh Jackman, no matter how estranged, can reconnect with his son, here played by an incredibly hyperactive Dakota Goyo.  Anyone can succeed if they have friends with faith in them, here Evangeline Lilly (who is far from her glory days on “Lost” when she was my huge crush).  But most of all, anyone can beat the odds and be a winner with hard work and faith – even a robot.  That’s the American dream, but it’s been realized before … and better.  C-