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Enter the not-so-distant future where boxing has gone high-tech -- 2000-pound, 8-foot-tall steel robots have taken over the ring. Starring Hugh Jackman as Charlie Kenton, a washed-up fighter turned small-time promoter, REAL STEEL is a riveting, white-knuckle action ride that will leave you cheering. When Charlie hits rock bottom, he reluctantly teams up with his estranged son Max (Dakota Goyo) to build and train a championship contender. As the stakes in the thrill-packed arena are raised, Charlie and Max, against all odds, get one last shot at a comeback. Visually stunning and complete with knockout bonus material, REAL STEEL is a pulse-pounding, inspirational adventure filled with heart and soul.
Sometime in the not-too-distant future, boxing has been outlawed and replaced by fighting matches with robots. Big robots. Hulking, rock 'em, sock 'em mechanical robots. But if those machines are cutting edge, Real Steel sticks to an old-fashioned style of storytelling, with a tale of a down-and-out fight manager (Hugh Jackman) looking for a good 'bot to get back in the game, and get back out of debt. Hearts are further tugged by the arrival of this guy's 11-year-old son (Dakota Goyo), who hasn't seen his dad in many years but now needs tending. There's something endearing about the way nobody ever pauses to remark on the fact that they are in the presence of giant remote-controlled prizefighting robots; it's taken for granted in this cockeyed universe. Loosely inspired by a Richard Matheson-penned episode of The Twilight Zone, Shawn Levy's film is lavishly mounted and fairly ridiculous--although in this case, the human interactions are more preposterous and formulaic than the fun robot action. Jackman plays to his roguish strengths, Evangeline Lilly (Lost) gets the perfunctory love interest role, and the villains are uncomplicatedly hissable, from Jackman's good ol' boy rival (Kevin Durand) to the heavily accented owners (Olga Fonda, Karl Yune) of the most fearsome of robots, the undefeated Zeus. If you can imagine Rocky restaged with a pile of spare parts, you might be the audience for Real Steel. --Robert Horton
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Very entertaining and really, does Hugh Jackman ever put out a bad performance? Even the kid is exceptional, and child actors are not always consistent.
Charlie is forced to change with the sport he loves, training bots to battle in underground battles held at rodeos, factories, and condemned zoos. Charlie longs for a shot in the World Robot Boxing league, but his arrogance has left him with a string of destroyed bots and owing thousands of dollars that he can't pay back.
Forced to attend a custody hearing for his estranged 11 year old son Max (newcomer Dakota Goyo), Charlie talks Max's wealthy uncle into paying him to take care of Max for the summer. A huge robot fight fan, Max quickly takes an interest in his father's profession, much to Charlie's chagrin. When Charlie and Max break into a junkyard in search of replacement parts for a broken bot, Max discovers Atom, a discarded sparring bot that was built to endure a lot of punishment but not dish much out. Max insists on using Atom to get into the robot boxing world, and Charlie grudgingly agrees to train Atom to fight like a human boxer. The once-contentious father and son bond as Charlie's boxing savvy and Max's unwavering faith in Atom (as well as Max's amusing dance moves) lead to Atom's rise through the underground ranks, catching the eye of the WRB. And after Atom impressively defeats a WRB contender, Max publicly issues a challenge to Zeus, the reigning undefeated champ, leading to a "David vs. Goliath" showdown for all the metal marbles (or would that be ball bearings?).
Also populating this film are Lost's Evangeline Lilly, essentially filling out the "Adrian role" as Bailey Tallet, the daughter of Charlie's deceased trainer who has turned her father's old boxing gym into a pseudo-Frankenstein's workshop for Charlie's bots. Anthony Mackie from The Hurt Locker appears as Finn, an underground promoter and one of Charlie's few "friends," and Kevin Durand as Ricky, one of Charlie's former in-ring adversaries who Charlie owes money to after skipping out on a bot-fighting bet.
Real Steel prescribes to all the cliches started by the Rocky films of a down-on-his luck underdog who defies the odds and gets a shot at the big time, but the film also has a little bit in common with another Sylvester Stallone film, Over The Top. Both films involve a father and his estranged son who grate on each other at first, but end up working out their abandonment issues and bond over a similar interest even as outside forces and their own clashing personalities threaten to rip them apart. Many would also find shades of the Transformers films in the "battling robots" plot, but unlike those films whose attraction lied mainly in mechanical carnage of CGI-bot-on-CGI-bot violence, Real Steel's strength lies in its human players, namely Charlie and Max, giving the film a soul. And you can't help but cheer when Charlie starts shadow boxing at ringside during the Zeus fight.
Its story is made up of, or reminds you of, other movies you may have seen. Rocky, Transformers, and Over The Top are the ones that stand out for me. Overall, it works. A problem I have with many movies these days is a difficulty feeling any connection to whats going on or major characters. There are plot holes, things move to fast, or it just doesn't work. Real Steel is able to have fun with the fighting robots while also having a story between a father and son, and both sides of the movie come together to make what ends up being a decent movie.
You really dislike Hugh Jackman early in the film. He is basically a scumbag and deadbeat dad. Though they don't go into too much detail through out the film, you can tell part of why he has become this way is because he was a pretty good boxer in the past and was replaced by these robots which made him obsolete. I really was getting into the fight scenes and they were done in the Rocky way, which means you are almost cheering from your seat for the good guy to win in the end.
Overall there's not much I can say against this movie. It gets a little dull a couple of times earlier in the movie, and a couple of the minor parts in the movie were not really necessary, but the negative reviews for this movie really make no sense to me. At the least its a good popcorn flick, but you may walk away surprised that this kind of movie is as good as it is.