Movie Review: Real Steel (2011)

Posted: April 16, 2012 in Drama
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In the year 2020, Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) is a washed up fighter who’s looking to make money in the newest trend robot boxing.  Trouble is, Charlie’s robots are as rusty as he is, and he’s in debt up to his eyeballs.  As if his life is not screwed up enough, Charlie finds out he has an 11 year old kid named Max, (Dakota Goyo) who he wants nothing to do with.  Charlie makes a deal with Max’s aunt’s boyfriend, Marvin (James Rebhorn ) Charlie agrees to take care of Max for four months in exchange for 50,000 dollars.  Max is not thrilled with his absentee father, but he goes with Charlie to the gym owned by Bailey Tallet (Evangeline Lilly) who’s father trained Charlie as a boxer.

Charlie buys a new robot named Noisy Boy with the 50 grand and takes off with Charlie to book fights for the robot.  Charlie gets greedy and books Noisy Boy on the main fight card against a robot named Midas.  Midas destroys Noisy Boy, Charlie and Max are left to break into a scrap metal yard to see if they can salvage Noisy Boy.  Max almost dies in the scrap yard, but he’s saved by Charlie.  Max finds a robot called Atom, and he loves it at first sight.  Atom is an old sparring robot and Charlie not to train the robot to fight, but Max discovers that Atom has a shadowing technology that allows the robot to follow a human trainers actions.  Atom is also smaller and quicker than other robots, and that is an advantage.  Max continues to clean and program Atom, and he wins his first match, and before long, Atom is creating a buzz, and fighting a robot named Twin Cities, who is a robot league boxer.  Atom beats Twin Cities and Max wants to fight the champion robot Zeus.  Does the fight happen?  Does Atom win?

Sure this movie is predictable, sure it’s clichéd, but it’s also fun to watch and a sweet movie, which is also family friendly.  If you think you’ve seen it before, you have, it’s called Rocky or The Champ.  Take equal parts Rocky, the Champ, and Transformers, and you have this movie, loosely based on a Twilight Zone episode called Steel.  What makes this movie rise above common schlock in my mind are the performances of Hugh Jackman and Evangeline Lilly.  Jackman is an immensely likable guy, even when he’s playing a not-so likable character.  Lilly is sweet and natural in this role, there is chemistry between the two, and that chemistry carries the movie.  Dakota Goyo crosses the line from precocious to obnoxious pretty quickly, and he’s pretty foul mouthed for an 11 year old.  Despite the ham handedness of the kid, the movie works.

Real Steel.  Steal a few hours and watch.

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