Seeing as how the reel robots in Transformers were a real letdown, it was hard for me to take Real Steel seriously.
The only names on the roster I could remotely recognize were Hugh Jackman (X-Men) and Shawn Levy (who was responsible for a string of average comedies), and the premise (Rocky meets Rock’em Sock’em Robots) was kinda weak.
It was a pleasant surprise, then, to discover that the film delivered on all counts. It had plenty of robot-on-robot action, the actors were proficient, and the story, while formulaic, had heart.
Real Steel is set in the near future, where boxing matches are fought between man-made machines.
Jackman plays Charlie, a down-and-out ex-boxer turned robot handler who gets a shot at turning his life around when he is saddled with Max (Dakota Goyo), the son he never knew, for the summer.
Max is mature and sensible, a perfect foil for the unreliable and sketchy Charlie. While the two get off initially on the wrong foot, they begin to bond over Atom, a scrapyard castoff they pick up and mold into a real fighter.
The movie’s finale comes in the way of a bout between the home-made ‘bot and Zeus, the World Robot Boxing champion, and it’s an impressive finish, to say the least.
Though the robots and visual effects were impressive, it was the synergy between Jackman and Goyo that really stole the show. Goyo, especially, proved incredibly versatile for his age. It was a miracle, because the script wasn’t exactly inspired. Still, Levy’s touch kept it interesting enough that things moved at a decent pace.
Real Steel’s the sort of film that made no pretensions to be anything but good, old-fashioned family entertainment, the sort that comes with a moral at the end of the story (this time, it’s all about responsibility and dedication, and boxing robots) and ultimately, that’s what it manages to deliver.
An entertaining watch.