I reckon if I saw Real Steel when I was seven years old I’d think it’s the best movie of all time. Seriously. A kid protagonist, Wolverine as his dad, Evangeline Lilly as the girl and boxing robots. Boxing robots! What more could a kid ask for?
As an adult, I still thought Real Steel was pretty decent; better than expected. It’s essentially a father/child relationship/redemption movie with a Rocky slant featuring giant robots that beat the crap out of each other. Set in the not too distant future, human boxing has been abandoned (after the recent Mayweather vs Ortiz and Hopkins vs Dawson debacles, who could blame them?) in favour of giant boxing robots controlled by humans (either by remote control or voice).
Hugh Jackman (or as I like to call him, Jack Human) is a former journeyman boxer turned robot owner who for certain reasons has to look after his long abandoned son, Max (Dakota Goyo). The duo, along with the daughter of Jackman’s former trainer (Lilly), start ‘training’ an old bot that has no business being in the ring with other newer bigger bots, but as you guessed, they start kicking butt.
Real Steel is a feel-good true underdog story and a tale of redemption that appeals the way the original Rocky did 35 years ago, and the performances of the leads, especially that Goyo kid, are excellent. Is it just me or are all child actors named Dakota acting prodigies?
Surprisingly, the film’s strength lies in the drama and the relationship between father and son. I wouldn’t have expected it but director Shawn Levy (Date Night) managed to make me care about the characters and understand their motivations.
The robot action, to be honest, was a little underwhelming in my opinion. It’s just two robots punching the crap out of each other like…robots. There’s no way humans would have given up real boxing for that boring mechanical stuff.
Young boys and boys young at heart will have a ball with this one. As for everyone else, if you can stomach all the obvious emotional manipulation and get into the spirit of the overcoming-the- odds, albeit somewhat predictable story, then Real Steel can be a real enjoyable ride.
3.5 stars out of 5!