Real Steel is directed by Shawn Levy and collectively adapted to the screen by John Gatins, Dan Gilroy and Jeremy Leven from a Richard Matheson short story called Steel. It stars Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, Kevin Durand, Hope Davis and James Rebhorn. Music is scored by Danny Elfman and cinematography by Mauro Fiore.
Set in the near future, robot boxing is a big crowd pulling sport. After a struggling robot operator is introduced to an 11-year-old son he has never known, they stumble upon a discarded robot at a junk yard....
We can all moan about the mimicry of an idea and the clichés that dominate Real Steel, but you really got to hand it to the makers for what they have achieved. They have crafted a family film that's perfect in this day and age. The story is one that any adult Sylvester Stallone fan can acknowledge and appreciate, the human heartbeat pleasingly steady, while the premise of big colourful robots beating the crap out of each other delights youngsters and us adults who are young at heart. Film pretty much does what any other film of this type does, lays on the syrup in the last quarter where second chances and family strife come thundering through the plotting. Undeniably it's hugely derivative, events are joystick operated to get an emotional response from a family audience, while product placement reins and the script often sags under the weight of unoriginality. But it does uplift the spirit and getting to the end is easy since it's so much berserker fun. Yes it's Atom the people's champion, yes it's David V Goliath and yes! It's Balboa V Creed. Nothing wrong with that really.
The cast don't really have to offer up much beyond being adequate within the context of the material, though a muscular Jackman finds good paternal chemistry with young Goyo. In fact Goyo is pleasingly not annoying, always a bonus is that. Inevitably the robots are the stars, they're a triumph of design and visual effects and a sight for sore eyes, while Levy has a good handle on staging the fight sequences; even when cribbing from Balboa. The near future look is terrific as well, with Fiore's colour photography very appealing. Coining in over $290 million at the worldwide box office (over £180 million in profit), Real Steel found the family audience it was looking for, proving once again that there is a market for simple and effective popcorn carnage. It's not high art or intelligently scripted, but was anyone seriously thinking that was going to be the case here? If you want brains with this premise then seek out Twilight Zone episode "Steel", starring the excellent Lee Marvin, otherwise just sit back and enjoy the ride and let the botty bots and human interest raise the pulse and gladden the heart respectively. 7/10
Home format release is a sparkling print, extras are annoyingly short but the blooper reel is fun, we get a stunt deconstruction, and we learn about the influence a certain Mr. Spielberg had on the production.