I walked into the theater with pretty low expectations. Especially after seeing the trailer for the movie which made me feel like it was going to be just another Transformers rip off. But after watching Real Steel, I can safely tell you that – this movie blows Transformers out of this world. Forget the Michael Bay disappointments we’ve been sitting through over the past few years. Real Steel does right everything that Transformers did wrong, and then offers some more. But most importantly; it has heart.
It is the year 2020, and Real Steel tells the story of a washed-up boxer, Charlie (Hugh Jackman) who is broke as hell and on the run from debt collectors. In order to make money, he takes part in robot fights but unfortunately for him, he never seems to win. His luck turns around when his son, Max (Dakota Goyo), has to spend the summer holiday with him and they stumble upon an old-generation robot from a scrap yard.
Real Steel might be a movie for the whole family, but that doesn’t mean it should be written-off on that premise. Sure there are moments that are borderline-cheesy, and a number of questionable scenes, but all in all, it was thoroughly enjoyable. The movie is mainly focused on Charlie and Max; how a father tries to salvage an estranged relationship with his son. Hugh Jackman is great as Charlie Kenton, an asshole of a father who would rather run from responsibility than face the music. Dakota Goyo (young Thor in Thor) plays Max Kenton, a kid who’s just as stubborn as his father, but with more optimism and courage.
The bad guys are one-dimensional stereotypes, but hey – they serve their purpose in the movie though I felt that the debt collectors did a better job of being “evil” than the main antagonists. Evangeline Lilly plays a minor role as Hugh Jackman’s love interest, but she’s pretty much just there for us to give our eyes a break from testosterone-filled, raging men and fighting giant robots.
Special effects in the movie are great. The robots look pretty realistic (in the sense that they could actually be built from parts found on this planet) and in some scenes it’s impossible to tell if they’re real or computer generated – yes, they did in fact build four of the robots that were used in the movie (according to the production notes). With Sugar Ray Leonard serving as boxing consultant and Jackman’s trainer for the movie, Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg as executive producers; Shawn Levy (director) was in very capable hands for this project.
It seems like you can’t go wrong with fight movies these days. After the recent string of amazing fight movies over the past year (The Fighter and Warrior come to mind), we can add one more to the list. Real Steel might not be realistic or as gritty as the aforementioned movies, but for a movie about robots fighting – it surprisingly delivers a powerful punch. Definitely a movie to catch in the cinemas when it starts showing. Real Steel gets 8/10.