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Enter the not-so-distant future where boxing has gone high-tech - 2000-pound, 8-foot-tall steel robots have taken over the ring. Starring Hugh Jackman as Charlie Kenton, a washed-up fighter turned small-time promoter, Real Steel is a riveting, white-knuckle action ride that will leave you cheering. When Charlie hits rock bottom, he reluctantly teams up with his estranged son (Dakota Goyo) to build and train a championship contender. As the stakes in the thrill-packed arena are raised, Charlie and Max, against all odds, get one last shot at a comeback. Visually stunning and complete with knockout bonus material, Real Steel is a pulse-pounding, inspirational adventure filled with heart and soul.
Sometime in the not-too-distant future, boxing has been outlawed and replaced by fighting matches with robots. Big robots. Hulking, rock 'em, sock 'em mechanical robots. But if those machines are cutting edge, Real Steel sticks to an old-fashioned style of storytelling, with a tale of a down-and-out fight manager (Hugh Jackman) looking for a good 'bot to get back in the game, and get back out of debt. Hearts are further tugged by the arrival of this guy's 11-year-old son (Dakota Goyo), who hasn't seen his dad in many years but now needs tending. There's something endearing about the way nobody ever pauses to remark on the fact that they are in the presence of giant remote-controlled prizefighting robots; it's taken for granted in this cockeyed universe. Loosely inspired by a Richard Matheson-penned episode of The Twilight Zone, Shawn Levy's film is lavishly mounted and fairly ridiculous--although in this case, the human interactions are more preposterous and formulaic than the fun robot action. Jackman plays to his roguish strengths, Evangeline Lilly (Lost) gets the perfunctory love interest role, and the villains are uncomplicatedly hissable, from Jackman's good ol' boy rival (Kevin Durand) to the heavily accented owners (Olga Fonda, Karl Yune) of the most fearsome of robots, the undefeated Zeus. If you can imagine Rocky restaged with a pile of spare parts, you might be the audience for Real Steel. --Robert Horton