Tags: Anthony Mackie, Dakota Goyo, Disney, Disney Second Screen, DreamWorks, Evangeline Lilly, Hugh Jackman, Kevin Durand, Robert Zemeckis, Second Screen, Shawn Levy, Steven Spielberg, Touchstone Pictures
has an average rating of 7.2 on IMDb
1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio
are ALL in HD, pretty cool with a DVD
– 127 minutes
– Touchstone Pictures (Disney)
This uses 46.1GB total.
Street Date: January 24th, 2012
Overall Verdict – Good Film & Impressive Blu-ray
— Review written by: Justin Sluss —
The Movie Itself was directed by Shawn Levy, best known for directing the “Night at the Museum” films and “Date Night” most recently; before this. It’s also worth noting that Steven Spielberg served as an executive producer on the film, along with Robert Zemeckis serving as a producer. A good amount of filmmaking talent assembled here to make this film. The screenplay was based on the short story “Steel” written by Richard Matheson.
The film is set roughly around 20 years in the future where robot boxing has become a worldwide sensation of a sport. Traditional boxing seems to have been forgotten about as our lead character is actually a former boxer by the name of “Charlie Kenton” (played by Hugh Jackman). The robot wrestling league hasn’t been too kind it seems to our main character, Charlie, as he struggles to buy, fix up bots and fight them in some smaller fights outside the league — and not very well at that. Charlie also has his enemies that keep coming back into his life from his boxing days which adds to his complications. That though is really the least of his complications.
One day Charlie is notified that his former girlfriend has died, but they had a child (a boy) together and he’s legally to be put in the father’s (Charlie’s) custody. The sister of Charlie’s former girlfriend (the boy’s late mother) just-so-happens to be married to a very wealthy older man and tries to fight for custody in court as well as financially outside of court. Eventually they reach a compromise and Charlie is to take temporary custody of his son, “Max” (played by Dakota Goyo), while the wealthy couple goes on a vacation. Once the vacation is over Charlie is to return Max to the couple at a set date. Charlie agrees to do this (at his financial benefit) and takes Max on the road with him fighting robots. Little does our main character know but his son will strike up an interest in the robotic boxing and will also discover a very special old sparring bot nicknamed “Atom” that will be the real highlight of this story. I’ll really keep it at that to a degree to avoid any real “spoilers” here. Although I will mention that Charlie has a former lady friend named “Bailey” (played by Evangeline Lilly) that plays a small part in his life and in the film.
I personally enjoyed this film. “Real Steel” proves to be a heartwarming little film and has some really cool physical robots (technically puppets from the folks at Legacy Effects) as well as amazingly cool CG robots. Just as a lot of critics compared it to “Rocky” with robots, I’ll have to use that same analogy here myself but throw in a bit of “Transformers“-style effects and occasional action. The film was received rather decently by critics and pretty overall well by movie-goers, as it holds an average rating of 7.3 currently on IMDb. On Rotten Tomatoes it holds a 59% on the “tomato-meter” (from critics) and a 80% from the audience — who obviously liked it a lot more than critics. The film itself cost roughly $110 million to make and ended up grossing over double that (an estimated $276 million worldwide), so it’s safe to say it was also a success for the studios involved. That being said, it should come as very little surprise that there’s rumored to be a sequel is in the works and set to be released in 2014.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. According to IMDb‘s technical specifications for the aspect ratio, this was shot digitally in Hi-Def using the Sony CineAlta F35 camera. First off, yes, the robots in CG look excellent and really have some great “pop” to them; similar to how the “Transformers“” did in those films. That pop I refer to mostly comes from reflections but it can also come from the colors on the bots themselves. Speaking of color, the palette is pretty vibrant at times and the fleshtones are accurate. There’s a whole lot of detail here be it Hugh Jackman‘s short beard stubble or the extremely cool looking robots or the destruction of them as well. Since this was shot in Hi-Def digitally there’s obviously no grain, but really there’s also very little to no digital noise and it does seem a bit surreal at times but it works. This really makes for a very nice Hi-Def digital transfer. That said, this really impressed me visually. “Real Steel” in its debut to Blu-ray is very easily worthy of a “5 Star Rating” for overall video quality. It’s got enough to impress most anyone visually. Nice CG and cinematography do help; obviously.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio. This lossless mix makes for some very nice subtle use and also not-so subtle use of the extra set of rear channels via the 7.1 configuration. The opening scene (title credits) is mostly dominated audio-wise by the song playing but there are some subtle sound effects like the wind in the rear channels, all four, in said scene. That’s just a taste of that to come, once robots are fighting you’ll know what to expect. There’s a great amount of LFE (bass) presence here via the subwoofer and it gets better as the film progresses; as mentioned. Danny Elfman‘s original Score (music) sounds absolutely great throughout and is done complete justice. Speaking of later on in the film, the action-packed robot boxing matches can get quite intense in terms of both bass and really just the whole surround sound experience itself via those kick-ass sound effects. During the action scenes dialogue is delivered distinctly here and is never once “drowned out” by sound effects. In fact, dialogue is “spot on” throughout the film, delivered through primarily the front center channel speaker and requires no volume adjustments. In terms of sound, this lossless 7.1 mix is likely to “rock your socks off”; as it definitely gets the job done as well as impresses at the very same time. Having said that, this earns a very, very impressive “5 Star Rating” for overall audio quality. It’s good enough to consider “demo material“, for sure, trust me on that.
Bonus Materials on this release are ALL presented in full 1080p HD (Hi-Def) video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @320kbps sound.
- DVD of the film in Standard Definition with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is included on a second disc. There is a FULL “combo pack” also available that contains a Digital Copy, but you’re not gonna find one here with this version. That will cost you an additional $5.00?!
- “Real Steel Second Screen: Ringside with Director Shawn Levy. This feature allows you to use a tablet device such as the iPad (via the app) or a laptop to watch the film real-time along with a supplemental viewing experience hosted by the director. At time of writing this the app was not available so I cannot test it out to totally give you my take on it but judging from Disney‘s previous “Second Screen” efforts I expect this to be very worthwhile for those who enjoyed the film.
- “Countdown to the Fight – The Charlie Kenton Story” (13:51 – HD) is not a making of featurette but instead a prologue (of sorts to the final fight in the film) or companion piece to the film that gives us more backstory to the main character. It plays like an ESPN story. Pretty entertaining companion to the film. Hugh Jackman and the supporting cast do a great job of staying in character here and making this believable. Almost feels like they considered putting this in the film but it was perhaps cut?
- “Making of Metal Valley” (14:14 – HD) gives us a in-depth look at how the action sequence robot junkyard there was created. This featurette proves the be very entertaining.
- “Building the Bots” (5:38 – HD) discusses the work Legacy Effects did on the physical bots that appear in the film when CG is not used for the fight sequences and such. Steven Spielberg makes some appearances here. Great featurette that looks also at the CG effects, the puppeteers for the real physical robots and even on their design itself.
- “Sugar Ray Leonard: Cornerman’s Champ” (6:19 – HD) discusses how the boxing legend served as a consultant on the film. Very cool featurette right here!
- Deleted & Extended Scenes (17:49 – HD) include introductions by Director Shawn Levy.
- “Bloopers” (2:36 – HD) are worth a couple laughs.
Overall the bonus materials here prove to be pretty in-depth and enjoyable. I can’t totally say I know what the Second Screen feature is like as the app has not yet been released. In addition to supplemental material you also get the DVD in standard definition of the film. A pretty solid set of bonus materials.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Please be patient with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.