One of the most anticpitated releases of the fall movie season, Real Steel offers enough excitement and adrenaline-pumping fight scenes to please younger viewers, but could have been much better for older audiences had a few adjustments been made.
The plot centers around Charlie Kenton, who was a professional boxer before the game changed from human fighters to robot fighters. Now, he travels around searching for scrap metal and robot parts to make a living. Then, through unforseen circumstances, Charlie is reunited with his eleven year old son, Max, who has not seen his father for years and wishes he would be a bigger part of his life. By chance, the two come across a completely functional robot buried in a junkyard, and it soon becomes clear that this robot might be their only chance at making it big.
Hugh Jackman plays Charlie Kenton, and he actually does a good job. Jackman is not one of Hollywood’s best actors, but here he certainly shows that he can bring a certain level of emotion and believability to a character. While he probably will not be winning any Oscars for this role, he does a good enough job that the audience can stand watching him onscreen for almost two hours. Dakota Goyo, who plays Max Kenton, proves to be a promising young actor and is loads of fun to watch here. It will be interesting to see where his career goes from here. The supporting cast also does a satisfactory job, but none of their performances really stand out or make an impression on viewers.
While this is a movie about robot boxing, its strongest aspect is the father/son dynamic between Charlie and Max. The exploration of the relationship between father and son adds a certain emotional depth to the film that would have been otherwise nonexistent. It is interesting to see Max and Charlie interact, and some of their banter might even get a chuckle out of you.
The movie takes too long to get anywhere. The first half hour of the film is boring, and those viewers who are anxious for a robot smackdown might get restless. The film’s second and bigger problem lies in its lack of originality. We have all seen this underdog story many times before, but basically the only difference is that the filmmakers made Rocky a robot. Viewers looking for something new will be sorely disappointed.
Those quibbles aside, Real Steel still manages to be a fairly entertaining film. The boxing aspect will attract younger audiences, but older moviegoers might need a bit more than that to be satisfied.
3 out of 5 stars