Comfortable and Furious

Real Steel

Real Steel inhabits a world where giant robots can mirror human movements. consequently they come to replace humans in most every mechanical way possible. Across the nation people performing nonintellectual jobs are out of work, resulting in mass unemployment and poverty. The wealthy can afford armies of robots to further sequester themselves from the masses; at the same time, banks are broken into in such numbers that cash is rendered meaningless. Criminals enforce their law with murderbots so that property rights and human rights cease to exist. Actually, none of this has occurred to the writers of Real Steel. They only thought up the robots punching each other. So in the film we only see a world that is retarded to an anencephalic degree.

Sure, we all need entertainment for the dimwitted twelve-year-old in all of us – not every escape to the theatre need be a Ozu marathon. Yet Real Stool fucks this up by taking a idea so dumb that it was an internet joke for months and takes this seriously. There is maybe fifteen minutes of robot punching action and nearly two hours of drama. Yes, really. This could have been a fun bit of stupidity if it stuck to whatever makes a lot of noise, but the producer hedged his bets by making it a Cute Kid story, an underdog sports story, and a daddy redemption story. If only they went off the deep end in this regard and tacked on a transgendered Holocaust victim who was killed in 9/11, and this could have become accidentally entertaining. As it is, great care was taken to avoid something fun.

This is to be expected from producer Spielberg, where every film is a homogenized ode to mediocrity. Machines busting each other’s shit is not a basis for a Story of Our Times, yet here we are, like Oscar is going to come calling. Shawn Levy was chosen to helm this robot-punching epic, and given his prior work on Cheaper by the Dozen, The Pink Panther, and Night at the Museum, he surely brought his Bergman-esque craft and gift for subtle subtext to the project. Jackman is egregiously awful, playing the father who abandoned his son a decade before as a complete asshole so there can be a redemptive arc. Given his pedigree in crap, you would think he could learn how to make a bad movie entertainingly bad, but here he is lost and adrift in Spielberg daddy-issue land, and his default is to take play the material straight. His character is a loser who gambles away money not because he has bad luck, but because he is lazy and doesn’t give a shit enough to prepare for fights. Another 50 grand lost, fuck it, let’s get a sandwich. He actually loses a match because he just throws a bot into the ring without learning how to use it. Meanwhile, we need a villain, and here it is the owner and programmer of Zeus, a well-designed robot. They are supposed to be standoffish and reptilian with their cold ability with computer design and supreme confidence. They just struck me as well prepared. HOW DARE THEY. This is the American Dream in a nutshell. To blunder into greatness by lucking into finding an unbeatable robot and besting a superior adversary despite their skill and preparation. Eventually Jackman’s character grudgingly acquieses to actually doing something right in readying his robot for a fight, but wins by falling back on his boxing skills to win in the ring. I know I shouldn’t be thinking too deeply about this crap, but it annoys the fuck out of me when underdog=lazy asshole.

The sport is boring to watch, with drama sucking all the fun out of what should be awesomely stupid. Of course, sports announcers fill the audio track with their diarrheal output, because those people aren’t annoying enough in real life. Real Steel surgically removes the homoerotic elements of contact sports, while hoping to project human emotions onto the robots, having its cock and eating it too. So, we identify with robots as competitors, except when their heads get knocked off, and they are just junk piles. What?

The kid is the worst thing about Real Steel, and his performance is cringe-inducing. He is Anakin. Like any poorly written adolescent, he speaks like an adult and acts like the only responsible person in the entire fucking movie. He is always correct, and happens to be an expert in both boxing and robots, and can built a fucking robot from scratch no problem. And he can program it without any experience with this sort of machine, and speaks Japanese because he plays video games. This pisses me off, because kids learn more from retarded movies like this than school anyway, and they get the incessant lesson that they are entitled by virtue of being alive, and no work is required to be awesome. Anyways, he installs stuff into his bot, stuff that nobody else on the planet knows about, and his bot is unstoppable. He also sprouts wings and fucked your girlfriend. It gets worse, because Anakin is really attached to his bot, since it actually saved his life by reaching out of the ground and keeping him from falling into a ravine. Oh wait – he also wins the adoring crowd at boxing matches by dancing with his robot. As this kid stepped to the latest autotuned vomit and got funky, I swallowed my tongue.

So the father overcomes his hatred of children in time to reclaim his love of boxing and redeems himself in the eyes of his son and our Dear Lord. Disliking children is fine – anyone who has them dislikes them intensely or just pretends not to since joining the Foreign Legion is not socially acceptable. Jackman even fucks this up by overdoing it – every sneer at the kid feels forced, and this despite the kid being an abrasive know it all cunt. And the kid has a bond with the robot as a surrogate father of sorts. It is a remake of Rocky and Terminator 2 with only the parts involving the brat. This was a bad idea, since everyone I know was rooting for the liquid metal Terminator to cleave that dickbag in twain. Many critics liked this movie, by the way. It’s like they were expecting a Downie ward and instead got psychotic coprophagics, and so are prepared to hand over an Honorable Mention trophy.