Real Steel (2011) starring Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, Kevin Durand, Hope Davis, James Rebhorn, Karl Yune, Olga Fonda directed by Shawn Levy Movie Review

Real Steel (2011)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo and Atom in Real Steel (2011)

The Mighty Atom

I've heard "Real Steel" described as Sylvester Stallone's "Rocky" combined with "Transformers" but there is another element, another Stallone element because it also has the father son bonding storyline from "Over the Top". On paper that sounds like a disaster, a cheesy story about an estranged father and son bonding as they fight robot boxers yet it strangely works, in fact it not only works but is surprisingly good entertainment. The bonding storyline whilst a cliche heartstring puller is nice and the whole underdog element whilst just as unoriginal gets you involved and as for the special effects of the robots, well put "Real Steel" in the ring with "Transformers" and "Real Steel" kicks butt.

Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman - X-Men Origins: Wolverine) is struggling, not only does he keep on losing the robot fights he is involved with but he also owes a lot of money. To add to his head ache he discovers that the mother of his son Max (Dakota Goyo) has passed away and it means that he is now Max's legal guardian. Stuck with Max for the summer, before Max's aunt takes custody Charlie finds himself bonding with his son as they work together on a robot which they discover in a scrap yard, a real underdog of a robot but one with a big heart.

Evangeline Lilly as Bailey Tallet in Real Steel (2011)

Before getting to the actual story the thing which really grabs you about "Real Steel" is that it looks terrific and I am not just on about the CGI. The various locations from a small boxing ring to the underground fights at the Zoo as well as the big stadium fight it looks amazing, futuristic but not too futuristic that it is too unbelievable. Add to that great cinematography, brilliant long shots, great close ups and they all add to how you connect to the drama and the action and a huge reason whilst the bonding aspect of the storyline is cliche it still gets you involved.

Of course we also have the special effects, the CGI robots and as already mentioned "Real Steel" kicks "Transformers" butt. The moments where we just get to look at the robots standing still they look impressive, detailed and more importantly real. But then you get the action and rather than just being a blur of pixels we get to see the robots move clearly, when one throws a punch you see the robot arm move in detail when it lands you see the individual sparks fly from the body as it leaves a caverness dent. It is simply breath taking the detail of these CGI creations and for those like me who often moan about CGI action being poor this is a movie which shows how to do it right.

Of course there is also the storyline and whilst both sides of "Real Steel" is unoriginal the combination of a father and son bonding with an underdog boxing story is nicely worked. You know where the movie will lead, you know Charlie having spent time with Max will end up connecting with his son whilst their robot Atom will eventually fight the mighty Zeus but it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because the storyline never tries to be any more than it is, doing the stuff which works and then moving on so that we then get the action.

What is quite surprising is that whilst we get behind Charlie and Max, Atom is not as big a character in itself than you might expect. Here we have the underdog, the lowly G2 robot going up against proper fighters and taking a pounding yet you don't feel for him despite a few moments when he almost has human like looks. That in itself might be why "Real Steel" ends up being so good because if Atom had been made to much of a human like character it could have felt to cheesy.

It also means that both Hugh Jackman as Charlie and Dakota Goyo as Max are the characters we connect with and whilst both playing cliche characters it works. Jackman has this nice energy going on, being a bit of a ducker and diver who is trying to forget his past as a real boxer and Goyo has the cuteness of a child but also a pluckiness to make it believable he is Charlie's son.

What this all boils down to is that "Real Steel" was a pleasant surprise because I half expected a cheesy robot fighting movie where the special effects and CGI were poor and little more than blurs when it came to the action. But here we have a glorious looking movie which shows how good CGI robots can be combined with two cliche but enjoyable stories which delve into Stallone's previous movies and updates them.

Tags: Boxing Movies