Real Steel is set in the near future. When humanoid robots replace humans in wrestling matches, Hugh Jackman, an ex-boxer and failed promoter of robots, reunites with his long-forgotten young son (Dakota Goyo). When the son accidentally finds a broken, old robot, the father-son’s fortunes and relationship change forever. Read the review to find out more.
Business rating: 2/5 stars
Star cast: Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, Kevin Durand, Hope Davis.
What’s Good: The interesting robot-fights; the heart-warming and emotional undercurrent in the drama; excellent special effects.
What’s Bad: The predictable screenplay; the occasional dips in the drama; a couple of sub-plots that add no real value.
Verdict: Real Steel is a fairly entertaining fare that will do average business at the Indian box-office.
Loo break: A couple in the latter half.
Watch or Not?: Watch Real Steel for action-packed fight scenes and the actors’ performances.
DreamWorks SKG and Reliance Entertainment’s Real Steel is an action drama based in the near future when robots have taken the place of humans in the wrestling ring. Such robot fights are a source of entertainment as well as betting in the underground. Charlie Keaton (Hugh Jackman), a former boxer and a promoter of robots, is indebted to several people because he has lost many such fights playing his ramshackle robot. Charlie bunks up with Bailey (Evangeline Lilly), the daughter of his former boxing coach. She is fed up with Charlie’s mindless risk-taking.
Charlie sees some hope when one day, his sister-in-law, Debra (Hope Davis), turns up alongwith her rich husband, out of nowhere, to gain legal custody of his long-forgotten son, Max (Dakota Goyo), as the child’s mother has passed away. Charlie agrees to grant the custody. Since Charlie is in need of money, he agrees to keep Max with him for a few months till Debra returns to fetch him, for a fee of $100,000, of which he is given half in advance. Debra’s rich husband secretly agrees to the deal with Charlie.
Although Max and Charlie start off on the wrong foot, with both of them acting like kids, they soon start bonding over their love for robots. Charlie and Max start going to underground robot fights but Charlie’s bad decision-making leads to the loss of another new robot he buys. As they go scavenging in a scrap yard to find spare parts for repairing their battered robot, the duo stumbles upon an older generation robot, which Max takes a keen liking to. Max repairs the robot (called Atom) and adds new features to it. He pleads Charlie to take Atom to a local fight so that Max can show off his robot’s prowess. Charlie is dismissive but relents because by now, he has grown fond of his kid, for whom he had no emotions before.
Things change when Atom wins the fight. Charlie smells money and agrees to take Max to more fights, where Atom keeps winning. He also agrees to train Atom, using a ‘shadow boxing’ function in the robot, which allows it to mimic exactly the actions of its controller. Soon, Atom reaches the big league fights and even gets a chance at the championship. What happens then? Is an older generation robot like Atom able to win against much advanced robots? Does Max go back to Debra after the assigned period of stay with Charlie is over? What about Charlie’s fortunes? The rest of the film and the climax answer these questions.
Real Steel Review – Script Analysis
Jeremy Leven and John Gilroy’s story is predictable, especially once the basic premise of the story is established. What makes the drama interesting is the gradual revelation of details about the world of robot fights. Screenplay writer John Gatins does a fine job of making the interactions between the father and son extremely entertaining and heartwarming. As it is, with their common zeal for robots and, later, their interest in winning the fights, the bonding between the father and son is completely believable. The finale fights featuring Atom and the very advanced robots are extremely thrilling as they are very well-written and executed. This portion of the film also stands for the underdog winning against the mightier forces and hence is inspirational. The character of Atom, the robot, will be liked, especially by the children.
However, the screenplay has its share of problems too, especially the whole sub-plot involving Bailey, who is apparently Charlie’s girlfriend. This track eats up a lot of time in the narrative. Moreover, the whole set of secondary characters – like Charlie’s debtors, friends or owners of Zeus (the champion fighting robot) – add no real value to the narrative, instead taking attention away from the main story. So, people are bound to feel bored at times.
Real Steel Review – Star Performances
Hugh Jackman delivers a good performance though he is found wanting in the emotional scenes. Dakota Goyo does a spirited job as Max. He is truly the heart of the film. However, he goes overboard in a few scenes. Evangeline Lilly, Hope Davis, Kevin Durand (as Ricky) and James Rebhorn (as Debra’s husband) support well.
Real Steel Review – Direction & Music
Director Shawn Levy does a good job in maintaining the audience’s interest throughout and making the drama entertaining and emotional. He has used the excellently-executed and seamlessly integrated special effects (all the robots are computer-generated) to the maximum effect. Danny Elfman’s background score is appropriate. Mauro Fiore’s cinematography is eye-pleasing. Editing, by Dean Zimmerman, is alright.
Real Steel Review – Verdict
On the whole, Real Steel is an entertaining fare in spite of a few flaws. It should do average business at the Indian box-office.