by Rick Grant
According to this scenario, in the future, (2025) the global population will tire of watching two humans slug it out in boxing matches. Then, as they age, they suffer from pugilistic dementia and die. In 2025, the new kick is anything-goes robot boxing, featuring giant robots controlled by their creators.
The story is as hokey as any Lifetime movie and is as predictable as the taste of a Big Mack. Ah yes, but the robot-savvy kid is a talented little actor named Dakota Goyo as Max, who is sent to live with his father, Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) as part of a divorce settlement. Charlie is a former boxer and small time robot fight promoter with a gambling problem.
Of course, the robots are mindless hulks controlled by their builder. However, Max builds his own robot that looks like it doesn’t have a chance of winning anything. But don’t sell Max short. He’s is a genius at robot electronics and enhances this outdated model with jury-rigged internal parts. The story implies that Max thinks his robot has consciousness, but it’s his enthusiasm creating this illusion.
Thus, the movie evolves into a David versus Goliath tale. And, viewers know that the story is headed for a sensational showdown. Imagine Rocky climbing those steps, willing himself to victory.
The subplot is Charlie’s relationship with Max, which goes from complete indifference to a father’s love for the bright little boy. Charlie’s on-again off-again girlfriend, Evangeline Lilly (“Lost”) puts up with his jerky ways. She inherited a gym from her father where Charlie trained as a boxer.
Director Shawn Levy orchestrated an even paced mosaic in which his actors excelled. The fighting robots are big clunky steal brutes. Likewise the shows are gaudy spectacles like the present day wrestling events. Dakota Goyo, who plays Max steals the movie with his enthusiastic acting. In some scenes, he upstages Hugh Jackman as Charlie.
The story proceeds down a primrose path to a big finish. Max’s robot, named Atom, is the laughing stock of the robot fighting world until Atom starts winning fights–first in the back alleys and up the latter to the big leagues. The final match with Zeus, an undefeated mega-machine, looms.
As family movies go, this is moderately entertaining. The robots are cool, and the kid is adorable. It beats another night of television reruns and old movies.
Real Steel Movie Review
by Rick Grant