The movie was created on a white board. "Transformers" + "The Champ"÷ "Rocky"! Down-on-his-luck ne'er do well ex-boxer (Hugh Jackman) becomes reacquainted with his abandoned son, learns how to be a better mech-handler, and, yes, a better father. Plus robots punching each other out! What's not to like? It hits all demographics, except perhaps those with a working memory of any father-son movie in the last twenty years.
Like the fighting robot the little boy salvages, everything in this movie is made up of old, used parts. The robot looks like "The Iron Giant." The bad guys, the better to inspire jingoistic hoots and hollers, are from Russian AND Japan. (Hisss! Boo!) They've even got a little boy (Dakota Goyo) who's genetically designed to engender maximum weeping. I didn't believe he was Jackman's son for a second, but that's not why he was cast. Tow-headed, limpid-eyed, snub-nosed, he's the amalgamation of Ricky Schroder (a boy trying to bond with his father like in "The Champ"—who cries!) and Justin Henry (a boy without his mother like in "Kramer vs Kramer"— who cries!) with the hair and dance moves of Justin Bieber. It was very odd— all the boy's lines seemed like they belonged to someone older and tougher. Maybe Hilary Swank. Perhaps a previous incarnation of the script involved an older man and a scrappy, feisty gal with a robot. But that would have been too original.
I don't know why I was expecting more. I was beguiled by reviews and PR into thinking it was going to be a better movie than it was. Or maybe it was the promise of Hugh Jackman's torso that did me in. Yes, Wolverine's pectorals deserve a special effects award all to themselves—but even those mighty man-pillows can't sustain an entire movie (well, maybe if the movie involved them flexing in a hot tub one crazy night with Ryan Gosling ... but that's an entirely different kind of entertainment altogether. Jackman actually flashes them only once, in a totally gratuitous scene early on, stripping off his shirt as if to say, "All right, you wankers in the audience who have only come for my muscles, here they are. Shut up and dream about these for the rest of the movie.")
|Yes, I am contractually obligated|
to flash these...