Who's in it: Hugh Jackmon (Charlie) and Dakota Goyo (Max, Charlie's son)
Why you should see it: If you’re not a critique, you will have a shouting good time; even if you are routing for a robot.
Review: Transformers and other movies about robots have me weary and disconnected with these machines that imitate the movements and functions of a human. But this is the premise of Real Steel, a new release set in the year 2020, when kids are still pumping classic rock and crowds are still gathering for a fist-to-fist brawl. Not much as changed in that realm.
Hugh Jackman plays single layered Charlie Kenton, a one-time boxer who now bets his way through life, engaging in fights that dismantle his robot boxers left and right. He’s simple and sexy, but a tad pathetic. The love interest is the daughter of his former boxing coach. At the beginning of the film she’s had enough. And in the first 10 minutes, I've had enough. Running from yet, another a creditor, Charlie is presented with a summons to appear in court to retrieve his only son after the death of his mother, an ex lover.
Although the larger-than-life robots are the obvious draw to Real Steel, the father-son, dynamic was a missed opportunity for a meaningful storyline. The only thing that bonds them is the sport, which ultimately transforms Charlie into a worthy father. You’re given the obsessed dad and a son who just lost his mother, traveling together through the highways of the USA, landing in Detroit, Michigan’s Cobo Arena; their boxing robot ready to take on all the biggest and the nastiest.
Yes, there are some corny scenes of the son teaching the father how to bond, and Charlie coming to terms with his own short-comings and trying to make amends. But we can't shake the fact that with an $80 million dollar budget and an A-List cast, the storyline should have made a bigger impact. If it wasn’t for the Robot, I wouldn’t have even cared. He didn’t say a word but he took hits like George Foreman. He did as he was instructed to do with all of his might and the audience found itself rooting for him. “Adrian!, Adrian!” is what I hear in the background of the last scene. I must admit, I wanted to scream too. And that’s why I suggest you take a date to this film. You’ll both have a shouting good time.