Real Steel

Real Steel

In Theatres: 
Oct 07, 2011
Fun Fact

Much of the robot boxing fights were motion-captured using professional boxers, supervised by Sugar Ray Leonard.

The year is 2020 and human boxing has been outlawed. That hasn’t stopped people from building robots to do their bidding, however. Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman), a retired boxer, now trains robots to fight in the ring. Only thing is, he’s not that good at it. Things get even worse when his son Max (Dakota Goyo) comes to live with him after his mother passes away. That all changes when Max finds an old G2 sparring robot named Atom, a robot no one believes it worth anything. Together, the father and son duo take Atom all the way to the World Robot Boxing Championship, but can an old piece of junk really battle against a top notch state-of-the-art fighting machine?

Based on the classic Twilight Zone episode, Real Steel is a story about redemption and rising up against the odds. Nobody believes in Charlie, just as nobody believes that an old G2 model can do any damage against the latest machines such as the all time champion Zeus.

These aren’t your typical battling robots we see on TV today with rotating buzz saws and other instruments of destruction attached to metal bases. No, these robots look like they were taken directly from a Michael Bay movie. These hulking masses of metal and oil are perfect for bashing each other to pieces. The visuals themselves are rather fantastic and believable. Every little detail and movement can be seen from in the ring. For characters like Atom and Zeus, the robots even have personality and life, despite not having a voice. In this aspect, Real Steel succeeds wonderfully.

I applaud the young Dakota Goyo as well. Whether he’s teaching Atom to mimic his dance moves or facing Wolverine himself in a head-on yelling match, the kid stands tall on his own and leaves a lasting impression. There’s also Lost’s Evangeline Lilly who plays Bailey, the love interest of Jackman and somewhat of a mother figure to Goyo. Running her father’s old boxing gym, she’s seen her fair share of bouts, including Charlie’s. While Charlie and Max are off trying to live the dream of fighting in the WRB, it’s Bailey who keeps the film grounded.

What are somewhat disappointing are how it lacks with the overall message of the film and how much it falters from its original source. We don’t see Charlie ever entering the ring disguised as a robot. Instead the film opts to use a ‘shadow mode’ where Atom mimics what it sees Charlie doing. As a result, the essence of the original is a bit lost as the key human element tossed into a mechanical world is missing. Sure, there’s the great bond between father and son, but it still feels like this is a technology ruled world and humans are just along for the ride.

In the end, Real Steel is all about the robot boxing, and it successfully delivers a one two punch. It’s no knockout, though, and fans of the original may be a bit disappointed in the direction the film has taken. Still, you can’t help but get caught up in watching robots clash against one another in the right.

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Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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