The best surprise however is when a film exceeds all expectations and shows an unexpected amount of quality that comes from a production team that actually cares about the film they are making.
“Real Steel,” directed by Shawn Levy, (“Date Night”) takes place in the near future where human boxing has been replaced by robot boxing, due to a demand for more spectacle and carnage. Former boxer Charlie Kenton, (Hugh Jackman, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”), tries to make it big in robot boxing but falls short due to his own self-destructive nature. This changes when his son, Max Kenton, (Dakota Goyo, “Thor”), travels with him over the summer, while his uncle and aunt, who have custody, are on vacation. Max loves robot boxing, and decides to travels with Charlie as he attempts to win a match.
After losing a match, the two go to a scrap yard and find a broken sparing bot named “Atom.” Max fixes it up and begs Charlie to teach it how to box. They bond while training Atom, and get a chance to compete in the “World Robot Boxing League.”
Arguably, the premise is ridiculous, though there is a certain charm to it. This is mainly due to the enthusiasm the characters have about the sport and the robots as a whole. The cast is incredible with Hugh Jackman at his best, portraying a character who is only a shell of his former self. He ultimately undergoes a believable transition, earning himself a chance at redemption.
Dakota Goyo also is not as annoying as little kids in movies usually are, and is actually a very likable and three-dimensional character. Evangeline Lilly (TV’s “Lost”), does a wonderful job as Bailey, Charlie’s ex-girlfriend and robot-boxing technician. All three of the main characters have remarkable chemistry on screen together, playing off of each other as the movie progresses.
Although the characters and performances are what makes the movie work as a whole, the best part about the movie are the robots themselves. Each of the robots, even the minor ones, are uniquely designed, interesting to look at and memorable well after the film is over. During the fight scenes, which are well-shot and choreographed, the robots are easily distinguishable from each other, making the fights easy to follow. The fight scenes themselves are spectacular to watch, being surprisingly more brutal than one would think.
If there is a flaw to “Real Steel,” it has to be its predictability. It is, at its core, “‘Rocky’ with robots.” So, one can see some, but not all, of the plot elements and twists that occur. However, it’s the presentation of it that makes it still enjoyable to watch despite the ability to predict what happens.
If you are not sure about “Real Steel,” go see it. It’s definitely worth the money to experience what it’s like to see a movie where the people involved actually give a damn. “Real Steel” is a knockout that should not be missed.