Real Steel (2011)

Greg Says: It’s Rock-em Sock-em Robots meets Rocky

Title: Real Steel (2011)
Date: 8 October 2011
Recommendation: See it in theaters
Helpful: 3 out of 6 found this helpful.

In the not-to-distant future, Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) is an ex- boxer who has turned to fighting remote-control robots. But these aren’t robots like your Roomba or “Bot Wars” little bots. These are 1- ton, 8-foot tall behemoths. In this future, boxing has been outlawed and now only robots can fight in the big ring. Charlie is down on his luck and scrapes together spare robot parts and works his robots in small-town carnivals and flea markets.

Charlie has an 11-year-old son, Max (Dakota Goyo) whom he has never seen. Max’s mother has died and his aunt wants custody. This is fine with Charlie who makes a deal with the rich uncle : Charlie will take the boy for the summer so aunt and uncle can vacation in Italy in peace. In return, Charlie receives a large chunk of change that he can use to pay off his seedy loan sharks.

Charlie and Max take up residence with Bailey Tallot (Evangelene Lilly) who is the daughter of Charlie’s old trainer. She runs a training ring for new bots. On a trip to the robot junk yard, Max finds an old sparring bot (Atom) that still has some life in it. It turns out the robot can “shadow box” and can learn Charlie’s ex-fighting skills. Max wants to enter Atom into the fights and convinces Charlie to take him on the circuit and win some fights. And we’re offÂ…

“Real Steel” is a very formulaic, predictable, and immensely fun sports story. And like any good sports story, it’s not just about the sport, but about the relationships surrounding it. In a season with films like “The Fighter,” and “Warrior,” “Real Steal” (with its PG-13 rating) is clearly aimed at younger audiences. Still as an adult, I still found the movie very entertaining with its fine performances and fast pace.

Hugh Jackman plays the role of Charlie as an every-man, down on his luck and trying hard to make good. But he is impetuous. Max is played by Dakota Goyo and is intelligent and adorable. He walks the line between smart-alecky brat and wise-beyond-his-years. And he comes out very warm and endearing. Evangeline Lilly is little more than the dispenser of exposition and eye-candy. Which she does quite well.

If you’ve seen any of the movies I’ve mentioned or “Rocky” you’ll recognize the formula. But it is played out with exceptional special effects and warm characters. You’ll be rooting for the underdog and booing the bad guys and smiling all the way through the final scene. For good acting, great special effects, a story we all have seen before and can’t seem to get enough of, I recommend you “See it in theaters.”