Rocky Meets Technology
DIRECTOR: Shawn Levy
CAST & CREW: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Kevin Durand, Anthony Mackie, Hope Davis, Dakota Goyo, Phil LaMarr, Olga Fonda , James Rebhorn, Karl Yune, David Alan Basche
SYNOPSIS: A future-set story where robot boxing is a popular sport and centered on a struggling promoter (Jackman) who thinks he’s found a champion in a discarded robot. During his hopeful rise to the top, he also discovers he has an 11-year-old son who wants to know his father.
REVIEW: Robots have been the fad of the times with a whole bunch of "Transformers" movies lining up and hitting the box-office with predictable interest and big hits at that too. This one would have been no different, but for the fact that here the robots fight in a controlled "boxing ring" and each one has a jockey remotely controlling it. So the gory flesh fights of yore have moved onto metal clanking against metal and people cheering & jeering along – it does seem a bummer at first, but as the story progresses, you forget that it has been happening and get involved in the characters rather than the nitty gritties like any Disney movie you may have been to.
Hugh Jackman plays the role of Charlie Kenton, a has-been boxer, now at the bottom of the boxing circuit. He roams around with Ambush, his junk of a robot, who actually manages to lose battles with plain old real bulls, let alone robots. Talk about taking someone their own size! Things are not going that great and Charlie suddenly finds himself looking at a son, Max, played by Dakota Goyo, he never knew he had. Max is to go into the custody of his Uncle and Aunt, but Uncle does not want Max; he is looking forward to a European vacation instead. Charlie cuts a deal, talks about taking in Max and "bonding" with him, and gets enough cash from Uncle to buy a better robot. Max oversees the deal and he cuts a deal with Charlie, agreeing to stay with him if he gets half of the take. Surprised, Charlie agrees and then finds himself in possession of not only a long lost son, but also a robot called Atom, found by Max during their journey in the lower end of the boxing rings.
Atom is cleaned up and geared up for the boxing ring and is competing his way through the lower rungs to the higher ones and he’s getting good. Atom’s sparkling blue eyes and that he’s most definitely the underdog in the entire battle has an instant likeability factor to it. The final, top of the ladder fight with Zeus, the current undefeated champion , is a variation on David and Goliath and though predictable has excellent visuals which will leave you wanting for more.
Hugh Jackman, though irritable at first, gets charming and is very believable as the desperate and confused dad. Dakota Goyo, is impressive with his hard-headedness for a young boy, but gets too cute for comfort at other times. The chemistry between both the lead actors is pretty amazing though and Evangeline Lilly, of "Lost" fame, provides the requisite female presence. The CGI is done really well, as could be expected of Shawn Levy who has done a brilliant job before with ‘Night at the Museum’, and as you keep progressing through the movie, you find yourself lost and forget that the fighting boxers are just tin cans and start exuding human characteristics making them much more believable and real-life.
VERDICT: Real Steel gives you everything that a Disney movie is usually known for: kid-centric, simple-minded robots, a romantic tale in the background and the classic underdog winner. Take your kids to watch a fight this weekend!