Great … if you like the idea of boxing robots

Real Steel is a simple story, told thousands of times before – think Stallone’s Over The Top as a well-known example of a father and son bonding over sports. In this case the film takes us ringside with rousing, seamless scenes full of boxing robots that hits you square in the solar-plexus.

It’s sometime in the near future and robot boxing is all the rage – it seems the fans preferred the mechanical beasts (controlled by humans) bashing each other rather than their human predecessors. Charlie Kenton (Jackman) is just such a former boxer now eeking out a meagre living boxing old robots wherever and whenever he can. When Charlie does a deal with the husband of the sister of his abandoned son’s mother (don’t ask), he and Max (Goyo) spend the summer building and boxing an undersized yet unique robot that just may (or may not) have a soul. And in the process they find each other … (cue the music …)

Of course Real Steel has a fairly predictable plot. Of course it has an ending so ooey gooey cheesy that you are liable to choke on it. It is also blatantly manipulative and yet, despite all of this you don’t seem to mind. You find yourself caring not only about the human characters but the robot too – this is where I would usually insert a joke about one of the actors but (un)fortunately they were all pretty good in this thing.

This is especially true of Jackman (one of my favourites since he became Wolverine) who’s energetic and magnetic performance manages to pull off being a full-on jackass and yet still is likeable as a character. The script he is working with is mediocre at best, but his charismatic performance manages to bring the story to life. His son played by Goyo is also nicely portrayed as he doesn’t tend to stray too far into the ‘cute’ kid mode but manages to keep his character grounded.

Real Steel was always going to be compared to the Transformers franchise, but luckily coming in the wake of the atrocious Transformers 3, Real Steel looks like the real deal when it comes to movie entertainment. Just watch out for that overhand right.

Real Steel

Dir: Shawn Levy; US action, 2011, 126 mins; Hugh Jackmam, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly, Hope Davis, Andrew Mackie, Kevin Durand

Premieres January 6, playing nationwide