Movie Review: Real Steel

Posted on October 7, 2011

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By Geoff Ratliff

As much as people complain about the lack of creativity in Hollywood, sometimes the modern-day version of “Movie Making 101” just works. A movie can be completely formulaic and as utterly predictable as imaginable, and still be no less entertaining for it. Real Steel is exactly that type of movie.

Let’s give the creators a little credit here as nobody had ever made an attempt to do the “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot” thing on film before – for what reason, I have no idea. But when it came to writing the actual script, they basically took a composite of Rocky I and Rocky IV, turned Wolverine into a reformed deadbeat dad, and made a movie out of it. There’s even a hot Russian (I think) chick and a big, bad, unbeatable machine that nobody could stop. Really the only thing missing is the “…If I can change, and you change, then everybody can change…” speech at the end. I know all this sounds like I’m ripping the movie, but that isn’t the case.

Real Steel was incredible. It somehow managed to rip off all the aforementioned movie clichés – and a lot more – without seeming the least bit corny. Hugh Jackman turns in a solid performance as Logan….err, Charlie Kenton, a washed up ex-boxer trying to scrape out a living on the underground robot boxing scene. After three X-Men movies and a Wolverine spin-off, it’s no surprise that he has this role down to a science. The real gem in this movie is Kenton’s son Max, played by a spunky Dakota Goyo. This kid literally owns every scene he’s in, which is just about all of them, and Jackman does a good job of letting the kid work without trying to overshadow him.

Reunited with Charlie after a ten-year absence following the death of his mother, Max is forced to spend the summer on the robot circuit with his dad while his aunt and her rich husband – Max’s new legal guardians – spend the summer in Tuscany. Only in Hollywood could you create a more ridiculous reason to delay the granting of custody for a child – unless your father is Ari Gold in which case this could actually happen…oh wait, that’s Hollywood too. I digress.

If you want to kill a couple of hours, see some decent robot fighting action, have your heart-strings manipulated by some sappy moments, and try to figure out how you can get as ripped as Jackman while your wife or girlfriend drools all over the popcorn, Real Steel is a fun ride. I’ll even give the movie extra credit for not using the most predictable ending possible, but if there’s a sequel, I’m docking it half a star on principle!

Posted in: Movie Reviews