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Real Steel movie poster

Real Steel: Movie Review

Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
Rated: PG-13
Directed by: Shawn Levy

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Dakota Goyo, Anthony Mackie, Kevin Durand, Hope Davis
Released by: Touchstone Pictures

In Short: Exciting giant fighting robots and a family-friendly story of a father and son's personal journey make "Real Steel" a movie that the whole clan will enjoy.

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This One's a Family Knockout

On the surface, "Real Steel" looks like another mindless CGI-infused futuristic action flick centered around giant boxing robots that might just remind you of the old "Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em" fighting toy from the 1960s. But look a little deeper, and this family-friendly flick is much more than that: a well-told story of redemption for a father who has neglected his 11-year-old son since the day the boy was born.

Directed by Shawn Levy, who is best known for the hits "Night at the Museum" and "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian," the film mixes plenty of that expected action with moments of genuine emotion. Hugh Jackman stars in the role of Charlie Kenton, an ex-boxer who now runs his own robot fighter (humans don't box any more in this tale set in the year 2020), a guy who is pretty much a loser. When his son Max comes to spend the summer with him under very sad circumstances, Charlie is at a loss. He's not ever been a father to the boy, but together the two figure it out as they attempt to get a rickety old robot in shape to earn them some much-needed cash.

Hugh Jackman in Real Steel Evangeline Lilly in Real Steel

As the almost-too-mature pre-teen, real-life 11-year-old Dakota Goyo is astonishing, as he gives a naturalistic, believable performance, with nary a misstep along the way. That kid's eyes alone are amazing. Hugh Jackman tamps down his natural charm as the dad, although despite some seriously major flaws as a parent and a person, we still find ourselves rooting for him as the action progresses. Evangeline Lilly of "Lost" fame is also well cast, as a gal who knows her way around a boxing ring and can handle a blowtorch.

Levy and his fine troupe of actors succeed in making "Real Steel" a winning one-two punch, with some really exciting action sequences (who knew robot boxing could be so thrilling?) interwoven into the emotional, yet never corny, story of a father and son finding a way to become a family. It's a movie that both adults and their kids will enjoy seeing together.


Reviewed by Jenny Peters


(Updated: 10/10/11 CT)

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