This 127-minute film mixes boxing robot action with a sincere, redemptive dramatic story centering on an ex-boxer turned futuristic fighting robot manager Charlie Kenton and his son Max who take a cross-country road trip to make their new robot a winner thanks to a unique technological capability. Set in the not too distant future, this recommended film (*** out of four stars) provides a nice showcase for Hugh Jackman’s physical and emotional talents in the lead role as Charlie who reconnects with his son Max after an unfortunate tragedy brings him back into Charlie’s life.
Dakota Goyo plays Charlie’s son Max who grounds the film with realism as the two eventually repair their past as the fighting robots. Max gets the financially struggling Charlie to believe in himself again instead of impulsively chasing chances for a big money win to get back into the limelight. The impressive young Goyo continues establishing a promising acting career while co-star Anthony Mackie (The Adjustment Bureau) also makes a memorable impression as a fight promoter named Finn. Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man) co-stars as Bailey whose late father managed Charlie during his promising yet unfulfilled boxing career. She now co-manages operations with Charlie as their long-delayed relationship finally blossoms with more romance as Charlie makes more positive moves in his life. Charlie’s past boxing rival Kevin Durand (I Am Number Four) plays the antagonist who targets Charlie again after a recent robot fight agreement.
As Charlie addresses his past and balances his current relationship with Max, audiences experience a slowly building, Rocky-like comeback story. This film develops the characters well while producing memorable sequences including a robot match in an abandoned zoo. Real Steel eventually crescendos into a thrilling David-versus-Goliath, in this case Zeus versus Atom, climax at the end where audiences might have a hard time standing still in their seat. Director Shawn Levy (Night At the Museum) mixes the special effect elements well with the actors and real settings while filmmakers glaze over logistic and legal issues to concentrate on the emotional punches in the film.
Extra features include a behind-the-scenes look with Sugar Ray Leonard, a profile on Charlie’s boxing career, bloopers (on DVD), and several deleted/extended scenes. Viewers can also use the Real Steel Second Screen app with their computers or iPads for in-depth looks at the impressive special effects. Available in 3-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray disc, DVD, and digital copy) and 2-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (without the digital copy). Rated PG.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler