If you asked me a few weeks ago if I would review a movie like “Real Steel” on my blog, I probably would have laughed at you. But it was really, really good! I was excited to see it (hello, Hugh Jackman is in it!), and I always love a good action film, but I never expected it to be as good as it was.
Set in the near future, the world still loves a good fight. Though now they have turned to robot boxing; they can take harder, more devastating hits than a human ever could. Charlie Kenton was one of the last boxers and now fights robots, except he’s not very good at keeping the odds in his favor. When Charlie discovers his estranged son’s mother has died, he goes to sign away his kid to a wealthy aunt and uncle. Charlie didn’t want the kid 11 years before, he doesn”t want him now. But there’s a catch – he has to take Max for the summer. It doesn’t take very long for Max to wiggle his way into his dad’s heart, all by taking a salvaged robot and getting him to fight the big leagues.
On the surface, this is a movie about fighting robots. It’s also a movie about the underdog who can still win the hearts of the people. But for me, the movie was about Charlie growing up and learning to let himself love. Hugh Jackman has always been one of my favorite actors, and despite some flops (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, “Australia”), he has a track record of making some really good films. He’s terrific here as the reluctant dad. He’s never cruel to Max, but he just didn’t want to care. He wanted to score, get the next great bot to make the big money and the glory. But when Max insists on going with his father, and then practically forces him to take up Atom and make him box, well, who couldn’t love that kid?
For comic film geeks out there, Dakota Goyo is probably best known as the younger Thor. He was cute in his two minutes of film time, but he really owns this movie. First, the kid can dance. Second, he’s probably the smartest, most determined child you would ever meet. Maybe he’s not so much of a child since he’s supposed to be eleven, but whatever you want to call Max, he certainly makes an impression. I particularly love seeing this young kid get hyped up on caffeine (Dr. Pepper was his drug of choice), and excited to have these experiences with his dad. He constantly tries to prove his worth to Charlie. Like any kid, all he wants is for his father to fight for him.
I’m not saying “Real Steel” will be vying for any awards this season, but it was a solid movie with a lot to see. And while there are a lot of unnecessary sequels out there, this movie leaves you wanting more. I thought I heard something about a “Real Steel 2”, so I’m going to keep my hopes up. Charlie and Max just barely gave us the start of their story, and I for one want to see more.
In a lot of ways, “Real Steel” reminds me of the Marvel movies. Solid acting, solid action, heart all mixed with that little bit of cheese. It played like a real boxing movie, just with robots instead of people. If you’re in for a good IMAX film or one both genders can agree on, go see it. Seriously. You can hurl angry comments at me if you don’t agree, but I doubt you’ll walk away with anything other than satisfaction.