Release Date: October 6
Real Steel may look like ‘Rocky meets Transformers’ but this sci-fi sport epic is actually a profound story about the struggle men go through to fulfill their responsibilities as fathers.
Boxing has been replaced in the not too distant future by a mechanized version of the sport where super-powered robots pound away at each other for the entertainment of screaming crowds. Hugh Jackman plays Charlie Kent, a down on his luck operator of dilapidated fighters. Charlie was a boxer himself who almost won the world title; now he fights by remote control. “We couldn’t give people what they really wanted,” he observes. “No-holds-barred violence.” So the robots stepped into the ring. Since then Charlie’s career has gone from bad to worse. But the arrival of his abandoned son Max (Dakota Goyo) brings even more pressure than this hustler can bear. Grudgingly he takes on the struggle of caring for the boy, a journey that involves him in the professional and personal fight of his life.
Reel Steal is more of a question than a title – where does strength of character actually lie? In the power to hit hard or the resolve to get up after each fall? Max discovers a ruined robot in a wrecker’s yard and determines to turn him into a fighter, despite Charlie’s disdain:
Charlie: “Wake up! This is where great robots come to die.”
Max: “So throw him away. That’s what you do right? Anything that doesn’t work you throw away?”
The film targets fears that every father will recognise: Will I be enough? What if I fail? How can I make him like me? Charlie considers himself a fighter but is forced to begin battling his own character. On the verge of running out again, he yells at Max, “You forgot who I was. You deserve better than me. What do you want from me?” Max’s response is one of many heart-turning moments, “I want you to fight for me. That’s all I ever wanted.” In the end Charlie discovers his real strength lies in his ability to recognise his mistakes, ask for forgiveness and move on.
Real Steel is likely to be the sleeper of the year. Without much fanfare, Roadshow will deliver a brilliant film for fathers and sons. But, particularly with dads in mind, this robot battle brings into sharp focus what Christianity would consider the first step to real transformation. If you’re going to change, you have to begin by admitting that something more is expected than what suits you. And there is no hope of building a future without seeking forgiveness for the past.
Scott and Bailey
Release Date: Fridays, 8:30 PM
Scott and Bailey is the latest crime drama from Britain’s ITV, the channel that commissioned genre classics A Touch of Frost and The Bill. Set around the lives of two female detectives, it considers the toll careers take on the lives of women in one of the world’s most taxing professions.
DC Rachel Bailey (Suranne Jones) and DC Janet Scott (Lesley Sharp) are members of the fictional Major Incident Team based in Manchester. The series spends as much time considering the female detectives’ private lives as it does their professional investigations – Bailey’s defacto turns out to be married just as she discovers she’s pregnant; Scott labours over a loveless marriage and the consequences of an interoffice affair. Where Bailey is intuitive and full of passion, Scott has the measured approach of a mother of teenagers. Both find some satisfaction in their ability to bring closure to the most violent of crimes, but they still struggle for a solution to their personal discontent.
Scott and Bailey reminds me strongly of Prime Suspect, the detective drama starring Helen Mirren that highlighted the problems of retaining any femininity in a masculine police culture. Mirren’s DCI Jane Tennison had to sacrifice her personal life to a harder-than-nails persona if she was going to succeed. Scott and Bailey seem set to follow in Tennison’s footsteps, though without the benefit of her moral compass. What dominated Mirren’s character was a determination to see the law upheld. Bailey, by comparison, is happy to bend the rules to ensure her ex-lover gets what’s coming to him. Scott is the voice of caution, but not one loud enough to prevent her friend from doing the wrong thing. She’s also not above using her position to pass vindictive judgment on the people she arrests.
Scott and Bailey is not the first television series to present Australians with police officers who struggle against their own humanity. However in this case the law seems more like a means to an end than a standard they aspire to uphold.