‘Rocky in armour’ that packs a punch

2011-12-05 00:00

THINK of it as Rocky in armour. The armour’s rusty and in need of a serious panel-beating, so Wrecky, if you will.

Don’t let that put you off. Befitting the father and son theme of the film, I happened to go and see it with my 23-year-old and we both came out saying “wow, that was so cool’’. Well, the words were his but the sentiments were shared.

Set in the immediate future, Rea­l Steel harks back to an era when men were men and robots were robots. In the first case, this meant that human boxers were allowed to punch the hell out of each other in the ring, which is now banned by the refined sensibilities of an advanced society, something not much in evidence in the film.

The dirty work of violent spectacles has therefore been handed over to robots, who themselves have evolved from lumbering tanks to high-tech machines.

Hugh Jackman (looking a far cry from his ubermensch Wolverine) plays Charlie Kenton, a down-and-out ex-fighter turned down-and-out robot boxing promoter. Salvation waits in the wings, however. Into the wreckage of his life steps his estranged 11-year-old son Max (Dakota Goyo), whom he abandoned at birth. While everything Charlie touches turns to rust, Max has a gift. Every bot Charlie sends into the ring comes out as twisted metal. Max, on the other hand, rescues an early generation robot called Atom from a rusty grave and resurrects him into a fighting machine that manages to get a crack at the world champ. The twist is that Atom fights like a real boxer, a quality developed by Charlie’s own ring experience, and something that the fans, tired of computer-generated heroes, respond to overwhelmingly.

While the humour is kept light and the sentiment is reined in tightly, the fights are full-bore, which, all together, packs a great, unexpected, punch. ****

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