In the near future, instead of the UFC, Pride or other mixed martial arts venues, robots come into the scene as fighters. It’s the irony of ironies: geek boxing. Real Steel came as a pleasant surprise. Although it is somewhat touted as a family movie, one must be careful because it still has some foul language and violence.
Hugh Jackman stars as Charlie Kenton, a washed-up boxer. Max Kenton, his son, is played by Dakota Goyo. Bailey Tallet, Charlie’s close friend and daughter of his former trainer. Anthony Mackie stars as Finn, Charlie’s friend and promoter of an illegal fighting ring. For those familiar with The Adjustment Bureau, he played Harry Mitchell in that film. Charlie’s wealthy Aunt Debra and Uncle Marvin are played by Hope Davis and James Rebhorn respectively.
Now to the cast of villains…Ricky, the nemesis of this film, is played by Kevin Durand. Karl Yune stars as Tak Mashido, the creator of Zeus, the champion of the World Robot Boxing (WRB) league. Farra Lemkova, the shady female promoter of Zeus (and Tak), is played by Olga Fonda.
In 2020, human boxing is replaced by robot boxing. In this world, Charlie Kenton tries to bring Bailey and himself money to survive. However, when he had an opportunity with the former great robot, Noisy Boy, he overestimated his control of the robot fighter and ultimately lost. However, through Max’s discovery of a Generation-2 robot named Atom, Charlie and Max find redemption, friendship and ultimately, a winning combination.
This movie was a pleasant surprise. Although the premise of robot boxing is quite fantastical, it was Hugh Jackman, Bailey Tallet and Max Kenton that made the film. They all gave wonderful performances. The CGI for the robots was spectacular and only made the film more believable. This is a family film, but it is best with teenagers. I certainly would not take children younger to see this film, no matter how good the message is.
This movie was a twist of ironies and absurdities. In the end, it became a blue-collar film with robots and thousand-dollar budgets. Kind of funny…
(On a side note, this movie is based on the short story “Steel” by Robert Matheson. And on another, the MIT Autonomous Robotic Competition, which features current fighting robots, will be held on February 1, 2012 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. If you enjoyed this movie, this is certainly more than a treat.)
If one can get past the backstory of robot boxing and some of the graphic violence and language, this is a wonderful movie to watch with the family, given that you have teenagers or so. Overall, this film gets a 9 out of 10.
- Reel Steel Review (4shothoughts.com)