Director: Shawn Levy
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lily, Anthony Mackie
Set in the near future, although somehow still really farfetched, Reel Steel tells the story of former boxer Charlie Kenton (Jackman) who in 2020 earns money by fighting Robots in various boxing tournaments and exhibitions. That is basically it in a nutshell. To me robots boxing sounded like a cross between WALL.E and Rocky. Robots with similar physical strength to Sylvester Stallone, although with better dexterity and intellectual levels, I assumed that Reel Steel would be an entertaining B movie at most. I did not have the highest of expectations; I believed I would see the film and instantly leave the theatre only to forget about it.
However I must admit that the film did surpass the expectations that I originally had, only slightly though. I thought the casting of Hugh Jackman was an intelligent idea, as he can carry off the physical attributes that the role of Charlie Kenton required, as well as supplying humour and energy to the role. I enjoyed contemporary settings, including cattle ranges and old gymnasiums, integrated into the near future scenery to create an interesting, yet familiar futuristic visual style. I also felt he CGI was impressively utilised too, becoming one of the film’s most impressive assets. However when you strip away the visual effects and the action scenes, the story comes down to the relationship between an estranged father and his son, both of them to no surprise take a dislike to one another at the beginning of the film, and become inseparable over the course of a few days. These elements of the father son relationship going through the conventional ‘I never wanted you’, ‘I am starting to realise we are the same’ and ‘we are better when we are together’ narrative features dragged the film down, making it familiar, predictable, and dull.
Overall the Reel Steel was a slight disappointment, however if I had been a twelve year old this would probably be the most amazing film ever, inspiring me to get together with my friends and re-enact imaginary robot boxing in the safety of my own back garden. If you went to this film expecting amazingly written scripts and an experience that would repeat upon you for several days, then Reel Steel would have been a disappointment. However, for what it is the film does what it delivers for a ‘robot boxing’ film, action, humour and violence galore. I felt that Reel Steel did what it set out to achieve, to entertain. Even if it was lacking in certain areas, the film displayed everything you would expect from a futuristic action film, with entertaining action scenes, brilliant CGI and a perfect combination of comedy and story without letting the one overcome the other. If you have ever wanted to see a predictable, yet enjoyable film about ‘robot boxing’ set in the future with lots of action, cheesy lines, loud noises and metal on metal fighting, then Reel Steel is the film that delivers all of your dreams.