Under the Radar

Real Steel on Blu-ray: Turn Yer Hat Around and Watch It

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The Real Steel extended version opened up much differently than we expected: smack in the middle of a big fight in the Khakrez District. Ambush comes thundering down the ramp of a Shithook hovering over the rocks in above Darvishan, all painted up in multi-cam, with a couple squads of Rangers hauling ass after and a bunch of RPG- and RPK-toting Taliban trying to fight them off.

That’s not really what happened. That’s just what would have happened if we’d done the movie. It’s still worth getting, though.

Come on...you can't see this guy in multi-cam, coming out an MH-47E ahead of some Ranger assaulters?

If you’re already seen the movie, you’re aware of what you’re getting plot-wise. Put military-wise (this may not be exactly what happened), somebody watched an old black and white episode of the Twilight Zone and did a few tequila shots while smoking Recon cigars. For some unfathomable reason he watched the old Stallone flick Over the Top while periodically checking eBay for the current bid on a Rockem Sockem robot set. Sometime later, in those miserable pre-dawn hours when he should’ve gotten up but it was just easier to lie in his own vomit and urine, he thought…Real Steel. A movie about real live Rockem Sockem robots. With a guy getting his kid back after mom’s gone…

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Many reviewers made comparisons like “it’s Rocky for Robots”. They’re asshats. Right actor, wrong movie. Don't get the hat reference? Watch the video, about 1:25. Most of you are probably too young to remember it. Anyway, who knew Robot Boxing was so big in Texas?

If you didn’t already know, the movie Real Steel was based on a short story by Richard Matheson, the same guy who wrote the short story I Am Legend was based on. (If you can read, you might take a crack at it.) In the movie, Robot Boxing developed as the natural evolution of fight fans wanting to see ever greater amounts of carnage (which of course the ACLU and PETA—both of whom we hold in equal regard—would never allow). In the original story, Robot Boxing started because there weren’t enough human boxers left to fight. (Interestingly, the short story was set in 1997, which was way in the future when it was written; the movie itself takes place in 2035.)

“In my story,” Matheson says, “the premise was that wars had killed so many men that there was no room for prize fighting anymore. Human prize fighting. I don’t think they mention that in the movie.”

Most of the movie is similarly ‘lighter’ in tone, if that makes any sense. There is no doubt this was intended from the beginning to be a family film. Overall we’re happy with it, and with most of the extra features, though we’d have preferred to have seen a proper nod to Battling Maxo.

Though you never see Lincoln Hawk turning his hat around, there is plenty of father-son angst-turned-reconciliation, a shyster dad going straight, the abandoned kid forgiving his dad…plus a well crafted take on the theme that a child can recognize value in something adults just don’t see. Though the quality of the sound was excellent, the soundtrack itself is a bit inconsistent. There were several places where you could’ve subbed in some of the music from Jerry McGuire and not noticed…in others, the sudden appearance of haunting music reminiscent of The Kingdom is a little jarring, but that’s our only real complaint.

Tell you one thing we liked, when it comes to tropes and standard Hollywood fare; the villains did not try to sabotage Atom after their bid to buy him failed. Nice touch. We also liked the hawt Tron-like babes in the ring during the final fight.

As for all the bonus stuff, it was pretty good. The scenes with Sugar Ray were awesome if you’re a boxing fan at all (he’s one of our heroes) and the whole making of metal valley segment was equally impressive. We were a little disappointed with the amount of extended and deleted scenes, but it’s possible we’re being too critical. Countdown to the Fight: The Charlie Kenton Story was actually pretty interesting too (it’s like a fake interview, sorta). On the good side, the awesome (insert technical sounding reference to the whole transfer to Blu-ray 1080p  process stuff) makes Evangeline Lilly look even more awesome than she did the first time out. (Gotta love a hot busty gal in a tanktop drinking coffee on a roof in the morning.) Seriously though, great clarity on the picture, just brings out their attention to detail; Atom’s hand after he catches the kid, shadows on the ground below the robots fighting ouside…good stuff.

The iPad/laptop stuff from the "Second Screen" feature took us a minute or two to figure out (for which our new bacon flavored beer might be to blame) but it was really cool. Basically with this Second Screen thing is a deal where you watch the movie, syncing it with your iPad or whatever, and check out galleries and activities relating to whatever scene the movie is on.

Obviously it is our very great wish they eventually incorporate this into bad ass adult films good military documentaries.

 

Blu-ray quality Evangeline Lilly...nom nom nom.

So, final tally. You’re cleared hot to get it, especially if you’ve got younger sons or nephews (though you do not have to be a kid to enjoy it by any means).

Make no mistake. It would have been a lot better if Noisy Boy was painted up in MARPAT desert digis with NODs on his kabuto, smashing through mud huts on the side of a valley in Pashtunistan, tearing some AQ f&%$tards limb from limb and demolishing technicals. Well, maybe Midas instead...he might be more appropriate wearing the gyrene colors anyway.

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Surely there’s a combat movie application in there somewhere. There’s gotta be some brushfire war somewhere where the trigger-pullers could use a couple of these big bastards kicking in doors and gorily slaughtering mujahideen.

Tell the truth: put MARPAT on this dude and he'd fit right in with a MEU, right?

Maybe in the sequel.

Mad Duo clear.

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