There were a lot of jokes about Real Steel being the feature film version of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots when the trailers started appearing. But it basically is. Yet they’ve made games based on the rides at Disneyland too, so why not?
Real Steel is set in a not-so-distant future and sees Hugh Jackman as a robot boxer, um, operator I guess. He’s a selfish, down-on-his-luck character who learns he has a son who he suddenly has custody of. Together they find an old robot in a junkyard and build him up to be a champion. These are all movie tropes you’ve seen before, so don’t expect much different here.
While the effects are flawless and the fight scenes are cool, there are some glaring problems with the script. There’s some big contrivances and forced additions, like when Jackman’s character is describing the history of robot boxing to his “son”, but really to the audience. And yes, there is a training montage which glosses over the robots rise to prominence. And some of the supporting actors are pretty poor, especially from the guy who played Keamy in Lost. This is a straight up formula with a lot of flaws.
And yet… I couldn’t help but get caught up in it. At the end of the movie, I have to admit that I liked it. It was enjoyable during the moments which weren’t stupid. And it really is captivating during the final fight. This ended so strongly (even if it did mirror Rocky a little TOO much), I have to chalk this movie up as a victory. Its nothing special to be sure, buts its a hell of a lot of fun. Even the strained son and absent father relationship storyline worked on some emotional level and had a good pay-off. An enjoyable little film, which sometimes is all you need.