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Real Steel

If you get one shot, make it real. 

Year: 2011 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Shawn Levy 
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Dakota Goyo  
An image from Real Steel

It’s as if nothing could get worse for former boxer Charlie Kenton (Jackman). Former second world-class champion, his life descends into hell when high-tech robots take his place in the ring. Overtaken by the new fashion, he falls into recuperating old junk for drain-grade robots. To make matters worse, he discovers he has a son, who wants to see who his father is. Yet this might be the key to both their salvation, as they chance upon a fully functional training robot in a junkyard. Has fortune smiled upon them at last?

Hollywood director Shawn Levy knows his work, that’s for certain. Real Steel manages a well-thought balance between the action sequences, served with truly impressive animations for the robots, and character depth, with Jackman portraying a lost, half-depressed man that hides it behind a layer of sarcasm that is Jackman’s speciality. Dakota Goyo as his son Max is exactly what we expect: a bright yet headstrong youth who leaves his father at a loss over what to do with him. A good deal of the film revolves around their growing bonds, catalysed by the appearance of this strange yet lovable robot.

Visually, the film is stunning. One would scarcely believe these are animated robots if it were not for their transformers-inspired outlook. This is more than forgiven, well integrated as it is in the setting. The scenery alternates between a light, almost normal world, and dark, foreboding places with sombre lighting, in which the robots stroll in flashy painting. The overall effect invariably reminds us of underground car races, with revving, flashing engines painted of all the hues. Combined with the well-known world of boxing, the result is original and strangely believable despite its futuristic touch. In the end, Real Steel puts in the middle of the ring and the heart of the action.

Charles Noirot

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Screenings of this film:

2011/2012 Spring Term (35mm)