Real Steel Review
Real Steel Review
By Simon Jago
The idea of combining ‘Rocky’ with robots was always something that caught my interest, and after some interesting trailers I was pretty excited to see this movie. Reel Steel delivers flair, grit and dogged determination, but is this movie really a championship fighter in the boxing genre, or just another underdog struggle…..to watch?
In the not too distant future robots are used in the sport of boxing as there are limits to what the human body can endure. Retired Boxer Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) is a failed promoter with an awful track record of losing fights with second rate robots. Down and out, Charlie discovers he has an eleven year old son he must take responsibility for as the mother has recently passed away.
Desperate for cash he agrees with close relatives that they can have custody for a fee, but part of the deal is Max Kenton (Dakota Goyo) must remain with his dad over the summer.
Angry and stubborn like his father the two don’t get on. However, chance has it that while searching for spare parts after the expensive loss of another robot, Max stumbles across Atom. Atom is an outdated sparring robot, designed to ‘take a lot of hit but never deal out any real punishment’. Charlie has no faith in the robot, but Max’s sheer determination and childish naivety forces the two to train and enter the robot into some low level fights. It appears there is more to Atom than meets the eye and in true underdog fashion he begins to surprise his competitors and Charlie by winning fights, but what’s more important is that he begins to bring Charlie and Max together.
On the whole I really enjoyed Reel Steel but I still have my criticisms. The film is extremely rough around the edges and could easily be improved. It appears that Steven Spielberg is the executive producer on just about everything these days but it’s a shame he doesn’t seem to have more involvement. The film is crying out for more of his Hollywood romantic nature and I would have loved to have seen more of an ‘E.T. & Elliot’ relationship between Max & Atom. The chemistry between Dakota Goyo and Hugh Jackman struggles for the first half of the film and only picks up in believability after Atom starts fighting.
The film has a good atmosphere with the whole construct of robot boxing and there are some interesting and unique designs for the various robot combatants, but ultimately the film doesn’t quite pack the punch it promises. The human characters are a little too stereotypical and left me a little cold, but ironically I warmed the most to the robot. In short, Atom saves the father /son relationship between the characters but he also saves the film. Everything improves from his entrance to the movie. While following Atom’s career through to his big fight at the end of the movie there are some great boxing moments, especially in the final fight.