Reviews & Previews - Real Steel

Posted on Saturday, October 08, 2011 at 06:00 PM

Real Steel

Starring:  Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lily
Director: Shawn Levy
Running time: 127 minutes
Rated: PG-13
Metallic Comfort Food

Real Steel will not surprise you at all, well at least it should not. With a plot that has been rehashed any number of times the story will feel familiar, yet the movie has enough charm and feel good moments that it will leave you feeling comfortably full. Like comfort food it may not be the highest quality, but it remains satisfying.
Charlie (Jackman) is a down on his luck ex-boxer who has somehow become enough of an expert in robotics to be able to enter his own machines in the fighting robot circuit some time in the near future. His selfish focus on his own life has resulted in his abandonment of his son Max (Goyo) until the two are reunited. Sharing a love of the fighting machines, Charlie and Max rescue a robot from the junk heap and together the 3 cast offs seek fame and fortune. There is really nothing I have given away in the plot that you could not have figured on from the trailers for the film.

Jackman is his usual charming self even as a deadbeat dad. It's hard to make a character who leaves his son as an infant without another thought like-able but Jackman manages, with the help of a cast of characters who seem to be very forgiving of this fairly callous act in Charlie's history. Goyo is a young actor who has an extensive resume already. At first I thought he was the boy who played Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace, but thankfully this was not the case. The young actor does a pretty good job as the kid with the attitude and generates some laughs without getting on your nerves. Lily has the unfortunate task of playing the loyal girl, which is always a thankless task, but she handles it well enough.

While the story is familiar to many of us it is still handled well. There are a few minor subplots but the director did a good job keeping them to the sidelines rather than forcing us to sit through tedious scenes about things we really don't care much about. The subplots support the main story and help move it along without creating extra drag. Still at 127 minutes the film is a bit long for a family movie. Luckily the robots occupy most of that time so the kids will probably not have much problem sitting through the entire thing. I also appreciated that while the main robot character is infused with enough personality to make us care about it the director showed some nice restraint in not going too far with it. This is a nice change from other family movies where everything from the furniture to the pets have cute little people personalities. 

The big reason to see this film is of course for the rock'em sock'em action and the special effects wizards earn their keep on this movie. I know in my head that most of the robot scenes are CGI but the effects in these big budget movies are getting to the point where it's becoming impossible to tell for sure. Of course it's easier to do it with things like machines rather than people but I remain impressed. The CGI action blends in with the live actors very well and I thought the scenes where the robot was not actually fighting were even more interesting to watch as it moved around with the actors.

Real Steel is not going down in history as a memorable family film but it offers enough good entertainment that will make it worthwhile for you to take the kids to check it out for a fun afternoon.


3.5 out of 5 Stars.

S. Tran also writes at, and


NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to