Spielberg’s movie ‘Real Steel’ is a highly entertaining visual romp, in which big, solid robots hammer each other to bits in the boxing ring, and if I was to score it in the category of entertainment, it would get a high number, but after that I would struggle to find anything else to score it highly on. The acting was up to standard, and the photography was good, along with sound effects, music, yes, all there, but after these are checked off, what are we left with? How about the story itself? This is where I would be struggling to even score it with a 1.
The story was dismal. Even the blurb on the back of the DVD cover had to admit that it was about: “Charlie Kenton, a washed up fighter…” This expression hardly covers it. He was a lot worse than merely “washed up.” Charlie was a no-hoper, useless, immature, small-minded, directionless piece of rubbish in a world that had no interest in him. His only goal in life was to satisfy his selfish cravings, for money, for food and maybe a night with his girlfirend. He was a flat-liner. He contributed nothing noble to anyone’s life, and if he died it would not register anywhere as a great loss to anyone.
But his girlfriend ‘believed in him’, which means very little because he didn’t care what she thought, as long as he fixed his broken robots so he could gamble on them in yet another fight.
And then along came an eleven year old boy, his son from an affair, and he managed to get some money out of someone in exchange for lugging the boy about for a few weeks. He had no interest in the boy, and the boy, well, we all hoped he would be the moral compass in the movie, but no… he was just as hooked on winning boxing matches, making money, and fitting into Charlie’s empty life as Charlie was. Max was a clone of Charlie.
I’m sure everyone who watches this movie will hopefully look forward to a moment when Charlie learns to rise above his own immaturity and get some responsibility, but he never does. The movie closes with a spectacular fight between Atom, Max’s adopted sparring robot, and Charlie, who wins a lot of money. They drift off into the darkness of a lost world, hardly any different to when they first appear… and as I thought about the hopelssness of their lives I thought of James 1:5 and 6: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally. . . . But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”
Waves are fascinating things. They come up the beach and then recede. They make a lot of noise, and they accomplish nothing. They release their energy, they drag things down, they froth and bubble… just like Charlie and Max and his girlfriend.
Yet, if Charlie had kneeled down and asked God to make his life stable, and meaningful, he would have been a better man. Instead of being like one of his robots, designed only to mindlessly bash itself to bits, he could have been a man, a father, a husband and a child of God.