Real Steel (2011): Cage Fighting Meets the Metal Age

With the success of both the Transformers franchise and the MMA, you had to conclude that at some time someone in Hollywood would get the brilliant idea to mix the two. It’s too bad that Walt Disney, through their Dreamworks Pictures subsidiary, got there first. What could have been a gritty vision of a dystopian world where underground figures, with the help of disenfranchised geek squads, create metal gladiators to engage in epic battles for betting cash, has turned into a feel-good father/son movie with fighting robots as their bonding tool.

Hugh Jackman stars as the father and Dakota Goyo plays his son. Jackman is a former boxer turned promoter who has not fared well in the world since its transition from flesh and blood fights to those of the machine type. Losing tons of money and piling up lots of debt, Jackman looks as though his life is finished. In steps his estranged son who had decided he wants to get to know his father.

The two go hunting in the robot junk warehouses of the city to find a robot they can rebuild to bring Jackman a change of luck. They find an obsolete sparing robot, and with some upgrades, including Goyo’s idea to program the machine with Jackman’s superior boxing skills, the two not only gain success but also reestablish a loving relationship.

Although the film, directed by Shawn Levy (Date Night, Night at the Museum) has all the trappings of a Disney cartoon, the robots do look kinda cool. If the fight sequences are entertaining enough, perhaps seeing it won’t be a total waste of time. Real Steel opens in theaters Oct. 7th, 2011.

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