Pointless Nonsense

Posted in movies by Bill on June 23, 2012

Real Steel has robots fighting each other and Evangeline Lilly looking hot. This should be an easy formula for an at least ok movie. But it isn’t ok. Some of the robot fights were actually well done, and Evangeline Lilly does look quite nice, but I spent most of the time (over 2 hours, for some reason) trying to figure out if I was watching a kids’ movie.

Hugh Jackman is a deadbeat dad suddenly stuck with his 11 year old son who he’s barely ever seen. He’s kind of an asshole at first, but learns to love his son and becomes a better person etc. If you remove the robot fighting stuff, this is an incredibly sappy story of what should have been a messy custody battle and totally broken home turned into a happy family because the kid is just so awesome. The kid is apparently as good at programming fighting robots as the best professionals in the world. He’s pretty sure the robot loves him as much as he loves the robot (why this compels him to constantly put the robot in situations where it gets pummeled, I dunno). His main function in the movie is to believe in his robot and believe in Hugh Jackman. He also teaches the robot to dance, which the robot does a lot. This is all kids movie stuff, right?

But it’s actually PG-13, and I would think a kids movie wouldn’t be this sexist. It has multiple references to robots being beaten “like a bitch.” It seems like Evangeline Lilly is going the token woman who knows her robot shit, but after working on a robot once about 30 minutes in, she spends the rest of the movie as Adrian (watching fights on TV or ringside, offering occasional words of wisdom to Hugh Jackman). All the builders and operators of the robots are men. There is a really hot Russian actress who plays the owner of the main antagonist, but she’s just the bankroll. Men build, program, and operate it. Her, Evangeline Lilly, and Hope Davis (the dead mother’s sister who wants custody of the kid) are the only women with names, every other woman in the movie is arm candy for a guy who runs a robot fighting ring or operates a fighter or gambles on fights (or a ring card girl). And I believe every other woman in the movie shows off gratuitous cleavage. In addition to the sexism, I think the only black person who speaks in the movie is a guy who runs an underground robot fighting/gambling ring. He’s the “nice guy” gambling ring guy, but… the movie spends a lot of time in the Detroit area, I think, so… there should be more than one black person.

So I have no idea who this movie is for. I hope in the 21st century we wouldn’t put these kinds of things in movies for kids, but this really did feel like a kids’ movie most of the time.

Also, I recognize the fair amount of hypocrisy in complaining about the gender roles and objectification of women in a movie that I mostly watched to ogle an attractive actress, but… so I’m a hypocrite, wanna fight about it?


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