Day 252: What The Flip?

Bloody Torchwood? What about bloody flip flops?

September 9 main

Okay, I apologise. Flip flops aren’t exactly trainers, but they are leisure shoes. More to the point, I’m getting slightly worried about finishing this challenge, so I’m bending the rules a bit. On the other hand, feet are bloody ugly things, and I hate flip flops because suddenly every summer there are naked male feet with manky toenails exposed to the world shamelessly on every street. That’s why I’m sparing you the usual close-up, putting myself into soft focus, and giving Mr Blowfish the spotlight instead. Well, you wear flip flops at the sea side, and you get fish in the sea… Okay, it’s a stretch.

Why are flip flops called flip flops? Presumably it’s onomatopoeic, but in that case they should really be called schlap schlaps. I hate that noise. When you get a bunch of people all wearing them and walking in a groups it sounds like somebody’s dropped a skip load of randy tuna into a vat of vaseline.

On another note entirely, I was very excited to learn yesterday that Real Steel director Shawn Levy is working on a script for a sequel. Not that I think it will ever happen; even in the interview I read, Levy mentioned that the project was based on a whole load of “ifs”. But it’s a nice dream.

I’m not going to say that my love of Real Steel is a guilty secret, because I don’t feel in the least guilty. But the film certainly benefitted from the fact that when I went to review it, I was fully expecting it to be utterly terrible, and was genuinely surprised at how entertaining it was.

Why did originally have such a downer on it? Well, because this is how it should have been marketed…

How to market Real Steel

How to market Real Steel

And this is how the film company chose to market it…

How not to market Real Steel

How not to market Real Steel

Yep, a film that should have been marketed on its rock ’em, sock ’em robot action (it was a film about robot wrestling for Christ sake!) was instead made to look like a gooey, cheesy father/son relationship flick.

For some bizarre reason, Hollywood is obsessed with trying to convince us that action blockbusters are, in fact, relationship movies at heart. I recall being bored to tears at a Lost In Space press junket where William Hurt and the director banged on about it being a father/son film at heart. Did they honestly think any floating voters, unsure whether to buy a ticket to see a space opera based on a gaudy ’60s TV show, with that bloke from Friends in it, were going to be swayed by the fact that they’d get to see William Hurt have a couple of dull dialogue scenes with his irritating scrote of a son?

William Hurt Lost In Space

Dad, are we the dullest thing in this film?

Don’t get me wrong – a strong human story can really benefit and underpin an action film. Good characters with a believable emotional journey can often count for more than good stunts or snazzy effects. But too often Hollywood simply defaults to the hoary old father/son reconciliation fallback position. And yeah, Real Steel suffers from that problem (and the fact that the boy in question is played by a chid actor whose name I really can’t be bothered to look up, who leaves a trail of oozy smugness behind him like some kind of mutant mollusc).

But that aside, Real Steel is great fun, and Hugh Jackman delivers an effortlessly charismatic performance way above and beyond the call of duty, even managing to make you feel some sympathy for the kid at times. The robot fights are brilliantly shot and edited, the robot designs are both impressively functional and imaginatively witty, and the plot beats owe more to Rocky than Kramer Versus Kramer. Yep, this is a sports movie at heart, one that just happens to feature giant robots.

Honestly, if you’ve avoided Real Steel because it looks like a soppy Disney kids film, give it another try. I reckon you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

See you tomorrow.

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