Runtime: 127 minutes
In Detroit-area theaters: October 7th
Real Steel just might be the most unique movie of the year. I had decent expectations for it, since it’s a Disney/Dreamworks movie, but the actual film blew those expectations out of the water, and it is one of the most enjoyable movies I have seen in 2011 thus far.
Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”), a former boxer, is always on the lookout for the next big robot boxing opportunity, and he owes a lot of money to a lot of people. He has an 11-year-old son, Max (Dakota Goyo, “Thor”), whom Charlie hasn’t seen since he was born, but when Max’s mother dies, Charlie suddenly gains custody of him. He makes a deal with Max’s uncle (James Rebhorn, TV’s “White Collar”) that he will take care of him for the summer, since the uncle and aunt have plans to summer in Italy – for $50,000 up front, and $50,000 at the end of the summer. Charlie then uses the $50,000 to buy Noisy Boy, an international robot … and promptly destroys it in his first match. When Max finds an old “sparring” robot in a junkyard and restores him, however, it turns out that they just might have a winner on their hands.
Hugh Jackman and his young co-star, Dakota Goyo, were great in this movie. The film is set in the year 2020, and the premise is that in the early 2010’s – the year 2014 was mentioned as when robot boxing first got started – human boxing started to come to an end, because people wanted to see more of a “fight to the death” type spectacle, which of course humans could not provide. The ‘bots have evolved since then, and the robot that Max puts back together is a “sparring ‘bot,” or one of the older types; however, it knows how to “shadow” – it’s able to mimic Max’s moves – which is a very useful tool in the world of robot boxing. There are several few particularly amusing scenes where Max and Atom (his ‘bot) “dance” before some of Atom’s matches, as well, since Atom can mimic Max’s dance moves.
Definitely see this film. I liked that although it was set in the future, things were mostly the same, albeit robot boxing and some fancy advanced-looking cell phones, radios, and iPod docking stations; you won’t find flying cars here just yet. The scenes where the robot boxing takes place are mesmerizing, especially near the end, when Atom fights one of the toughest robots around. The movie is a little violent if you consider robot boxing to be violence, but other than that, it is fine for most older children (10+). It was also filmed in Detroit, and local audiences will recognize the street scenes as downtown and one of the arena scenes as Cobo Arena.