Director: Shawn Levy
Stars: Hugh Jackman
For a family-friendly fantasy flick — even one about robots pummeling each other — Real Steel opens with some pretty questionable action.
We meet down-on-his-luck Charlie (Hugh Jackman) pitting his robot boxer, Ambush, against a live bull at a state fair.
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The film is set in a not-too-distant future when audiences’ thirst for violence made human boxing obsolete in favour of the more brutal robot variety, but there’s just something about watching an animal getting punched in the face that doesn’t quite sit right. It doesn’t help that the rest of the film’s tone is actually safely in the family-friendly zone.
Robot-on-bovine violence aside, Real Steel works, minus a few bugs.
The boxing itself is a marvel, with the clashing metal titans feeling incredibly real. As for the humans, Jackman plays Charlie with just enough charm that we root for him, despite him being a pretty lackluster businessman, father and human being.
About that father bit: Charlie takes on his estranged 11-year-old son (Dakota Goyo) for a summer on the road. Unfortunately, the film relies a bit too heavily on Goyo, possibly to distract from Jackman’s character’s less-than-heroic actions. And the less said about the boy’s dancing, the better.