Movie Reviews from the Vault: Megamind and Real Steel

(Posted to my Facebook page on May 1, 2014)

Megamind:

Honestly, I thought this movie looked really stupid when I first saw trailers for it. Just another bargin-bin superhero movie, and another attempt from Dreamworks to rip off a better movie (The Incredibles) from Pixar.
With that in mind, after seeing a mini-review of it from Doug Walker, I was interested and checked it out. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s not an amazing film, but it was funny and interesting enough to keep my attention.
The story is that Megamind (Will Ferrell) crashed on earth when he was a baby alongside another alien baby. Megamind grew up in a prison and understandably became a villain with that mindset, where the other alien baby grew up with a rich family and became Metroman (Brad Pitt), defender of Metro City. They have a standard relationship between Hero and Villain and often slug it out in the city until Metroman inevitably wins and puts Megamind in jail. That is, until one day when Megamind wins and Metroman is destroyed.
Megamind finally has control of Metro City and causes chaos for a while before he realizes that he and his minion (David Cross) have no purpose without a hero to stop them. Thus, Megamind hatches a scheme to create a new hero to battle, which backfires when that hero decides that it would be more fun to use his powers for evil.
There are some great preformances in this. Will Ferrell really likes these crazy animated movies and always brings his A-Game. Brad Pitt plays a very believable Superman-type and even manages to get some laughs in. Tiny Fey plays a reporter named Roxanne (sort of a Louis Lane) and she’s always keyed in on all the cliches of the hero and villain, and her deadpan comedy can be pretty great.
There are a few flaws, however. Some of the jokes fall flat, the Hero-Villain is kind of lame (Which is sort of the point, but I never really felt too intimidated by him, he kind of felt like a little kid with a pile of bottle-rockets), and while it does mix up the formula a little bit, we’ve still seen stories like this plenty of times before.
I’d give it a watch, but pick The Incredibles over it.

Real Steel:

AKA “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots the Movie.” I kid, this film is actually based off a short story called “Steel.” The film is set in the year 2020 and human boxing no longer exists, being thought of as too dangerous and too tame compared to the new most popular sport: Robot Boxing. Without having to worry about people getting hurt, audiences can enjoy far more brutal fights in this sport.
Down in the illegal fighting rings we have Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman). He was a former boxer before Robot Boxing phased him out and now he battles what robots he can for what money he can, but he’s losing money and fights. Meanwhile, we learn that his ex-wife has died, and custody of Charlie’s son Max (Dakota Doyo) needs to be determined. His aunt Debra (Hope Davis) wants custody of Max and believes she can be a better parent than Charlie, especially because she and her husband have more money. Charlie wants nothing to do with the kid, but has custody rights as his father, and offers to give up his rights if Debra’s husband pays him $100,000. The husband agrees if Charlie is willing to look after Max for the rest of the summer.
Max tags along with Charlie as he loses yet a another match and then goes to a scrap yard to look for spare parts. There, they find an old sparing robot named Atom that Max wants to fix up and turn into a fighter.
It’s a pretty basic formula for a sci-fi/Action/Boxing movie. Honestly if it weren’t for the son, I’d call it Robot-Rocky. But that’s not really a bad thing because Real Steel knows what it is, and manages to keep things interesting throughout. The performances are passable, and while Dakota Doyo isn’t exactly the best child actor I’ve ever seen, he does a good enough job. The designs of the robots are really interesting (Especially in the illegal underground fighting leagues), and the shoehorned romance isn’t too distracting. The ending… well, it’s hard to call it predictable given the other ending possible, but let’s just say that the Rocky comparison is especially apt here.
Real Steel isn’t going to be on a list of the best Boxing movies anytime soon, but it’s different enough with its premise to entertain boxing and sci-fi fans alike. Keep Cinderella Man and Rocky on the “Must-Watch” boxing movie list, but give Real Steel a shot; you might just enjoy it!

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