"Real Steel" Movie Review
When I first saw the trailer for “Real Steel,” I quickly dismissed it as a derivative film that was produced simply to lure the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em kids in all of us. We grew up with the boxing robots toy, and Walt Disney Pictures just wanted to capitalize on our nostalgia.
I was wrong. “Real Steel” has a solid heart and that belongs to the child actor named Dakota Goyo who plays Hugh Jackman’s character’s estranged son. Goyo nearly steals the show and is the main reason I’m recommending the movie.
The time is 2020. Robots have taken over the boxing ring, and former boxers have been reduced to be low-rent boxing promoters. Jackman is Charlie, a washed-up boxer who now lives in a world where he doesn’t fit in.
Charlie travels from town to town, looking for fights for his low-end “bots” that he quickly pieces together with Bailey (Evangeline Lilly from “Lost”). When we first meet Charlie, he’s promoting a fight with Ambush, now downgraded to fighting livestock.
Charlie loses of course. He’s a big loser according to the movie. As a member of the audience, you just want him to snap out of it. But all that is about to change with the introduction of Goyo’s character Max, the tough-beyond-his-years son of Charlie who suddenly comes back into the picture.
Goyo reminds me of a young Ricky Schroder from “The Champ,” and apparently, the filmmakers know it too. There’s a scene near the end where Max is chanting “champ, champ, champ,” and I just couldn’t help but tear up. Just a bit.
Based on a short story by Richard Matheson published in the May 1956 edition of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction which eventually became a 1963 “Twilight Zone” teleplay called “Steel,” “Real Steel” is predictable fluff that benefits greatly from its cast.
As soon as you see Charlie’s son, you know exactly where this is heading. But I would lying if I said I didn’t clap, laugh, nor shed a tear along the way. I even smiled a little when they introduced robot dancing. Yes! Robot dancing!
The robot who will eventually help Charlie return to grace, and help Max bond with his father, is Atom, a long discarded bot who suddenly finds new life. Charlie, Max, and Atom are the three lost and forgotten souls who complete this tale of redemption.
All three of them have been forgotten and the main crux of “Real Steel” is to tell us about how this father-son-robot trinity finds their chance to return to grace. Shawn Levy, the director who gave us the “Night at the Museum” movies, knows exactly how to please us in every step of the way.
Like a good fighting movie, “Real Steel” is an against-all-odds story meant to make us root for the underdogs. In the screening that I attended, moviegoers could not help themselves but clap and cheer for our heroes in the end. It’s no accident that Atom is labeled the People’s Champion in the movie.
If Goyo is allowed to shine, then many supporting actors are given thankless roles. One of them is the always memorable Hope Davis who is given the ho-hum task of playing Max’s aunt who is battling for the custody of the boy against his wayward father.
Some actors fared well though. Anthony Mackie, who we still remember for his brilliant performance in “The Hurt Locker” stars as the underground boxing promoter Finn. Sugar Ray Leonard is hired to be the boxing consultant for the film and to make Jackman look good.
“Real Steel” is a hodge-podge of movies rolled into one. It’s “Karate Kid” meets “Transformers” with a dash of “Rocky” thrown in for good measure. But in the end, it’s the boy with his robot who steals our hearts. Goyo gives a knock out performance and the only reason to watch “Real Steel.”
RATING: “REAL STEEL” GETS 3 KISSES
Country: United States
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