(Robot boxers vs. father and son bonding)
Every once and a while we will see a movie that, on the surface, seems pretty lame. This one is about a father (Hugh Jackman) who meets his 11-year-old son (Dakota Goyo) for the first time, rejects him, and over the course of the movie bonds with him as the two create a winning robot fighter.
Sounds pretty silly, doesn't it?
Yet, in spite of the silliness, "Real Steel" has a heart and soul to it, thanks to the performances of Jackman and the delightful young Goyo.
Jackman is Charlie Kenton, a former boxer who learns that he has a young son, Max, after the boy's mother dies and he must assume custody as the next of kin, but Max's wealthy Aunt Debra (Hope Davis) wants custody. Charlie wants no part of the kid but does need money to buy a fighting robot, so he literally "sells" him to Debra's husband, with the agreement that Charile will keep him for the summer, while they vacation in Italy.
Charlie wants to dump the precocious kid on his friend (Evangeline Lilly) while he goes off to buy a robot, but the kid has different plans. Together they buy and build an old robot, only to have it demolished in its first fight.
Charlie is his own worst enemy, making a series of bad choices but finally gaining his son's trust. Max, who comes across as the wise one, puts together an old sparring robot that can take punches but doesn't know how to deliver them. Atom starts winning fights, and it eventually comes down to the BIG FIGHT against the stronger, bigger, undefeated Zeus.
The final battle has an interesting twist and conclusion that will leave you cheering, even if it is a bit corny.
"Real Steel" is proof that all movies don't have to be classics to be enjoyable. Father/son bonding, overcoming odds and growing up are all elements that can make for a satisfying two-hour movie.
Rated PG-13, with violence.