IT happened on a Wednesday, late afternoon. Leicester Square was cluttered up with the usual concoction of office workers, tourists and people ready for a night on the town, most moving in that hurry that’s so familiar to London. And there I was, stepping out of the tube station, whilst adrenaline soared through my body and my knees trembled uncontrollably. Today was the day I’d see Australia’s answer to Adonis, Hugh Jackman, in real life.
Hugh Jackman had arrived. It seemed as if time suddenly changed to warp speed – everyone jumped at what is one of God’s best turn-outs, I fired away with my questions, he didn’t understand me at first, embarrassment all around, and then (and I still feel the butterflies) he put his hand on my shoulder. Oh. My. God.
He and a bunch of other important Hollywood savvies had come down to London for the UK premiere of Real Steel, a science-fiction action film à la Transformers, but blended with the hard knocks of an underdog drama. It was my job to hunt down Mr. Jackman – and anyone else that looked slightly familiar, for that matter – throw myself at him in the middle of the press pen (comparable to a cage full of hungry, roaring lions), and ask what on earth was wrong with him, to choose to play in a film with such an idiotic plot. Because even though I love the man, I can’t imagine a storyline more ridiculous.
In Real Steel we flash forward to the year 2020 and find that robots (as in, enormous chunks of steel about eight foot in height) have replaced humans in boxing, making bot boxing a top sport. Suffering directly from these futuristic consequences, former professional boxer Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) is not a happy bunny, as he’s now been pushed behind the scenes as small-time hustler. But that’s not all; to top it off, when Kenton’s estranged son Max’s (Dakota Goyo) mother dies, he is left to take care of the child for the summer (although he only agrees to do so after been promised a mickle of cash).
Seriously, what must have gone through the minds of the producers? Star Wars’ R2 D2 meets Rocky and together they’ll team up with Transformers and Disney’s The Iron Giant? I was about to find out as I approached Empire cinema, where dozens of fans already had gathered. I failed to mention that this was not only my first ever encounter with a world-class actor, it would also be my first ever red carpet event. Needless to say, the flamboyant atmosphere surrounding the event, including hundreds of security hindrances to the press pen, didn’t manage to calm down my nerves.
After nearly an hour and a half later, spent waiting in the chilling wind watching half the cast of Made In Chelsea make a press round and at times getting entertained by Titan the Robot (did I say premieres were glamourous?), the moment came near: Hugh Jackman had arrived. It seemed as if time suddenly changed to warp speed – everyone jumped at what is one of God’s best turn-outs, I fired away with my questions, he didn’t understand me at first, embarrassment all around, and then (and I still feel the butterflies) he put his hand on my shoulder. Oh. My. God.
A couple of days later, I was making my way to the preview of Real Steel, still kind of sizzling from the Hugh Jackman experience. And… I haven’t been as wrong about something as I was about Real Steel. There were great plot twists, it was funny, it had an original storyline and man the robots were cool. It pretty much blew my socks off.
Hugh Jackman (as Charlie Kenton) plays, that kind of guy you’d really like to smack in the face, but you simply can’t, because there’s something so charming about him. I’m sure Bailey Tallet (Evangeline Lilly), Charlie’s love interest in the film, felt the same way. Kenton, struggling with life as an awfully bad robot fighter, accepts a wad of cash from his brother-in-law for taking care of his estranged son, Max (Dakota Goyo) for the summer. Making it no secret to Max that he simply sold him to his brother-in-law and that he planned to dump the kid at Bailey’s robot gym, Kenton jumps in his truck to hit the road.
This is where we first become acquainted with Max’s brilliant wit, as he blackmails Kenton to take him with him. First stop, scrape yard. After a 100 feet drop downhill at the local dump yard, Max finds a bot of an earlier generation, names him Atom and, plagued by Kenton’s laughs, who doesn’t believe in Atom or his son’s judgement whatsoever, trains him to fight the best. Hilariously, he also teaches him how to dance.
Kenton’s sarcastic laughs soon evolve to pure joy, when Atom proves to be more than scrape yard material. He, Max and Atom hit the road to travel from robot fight to robot fight, each fight fought against a bigger robot than the one before and resulting in a clash of the titans.
Real Steel will be in theatres on October 14
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