Even with its bright, boxing robots, director Shawn Levy’s new drama “Real Steel” may fail to excite audiences.
Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman), a trainer who prepares robots to fight, discovers that his ex-girlfriend has passed away and left him custody of his 11-year-old son Max (Dakota Goyo). Despite Kenton’s objections, Max forces his father to take him out on the fighting circuit.
Max seems to have an easier time creating a relationship with a robot than with his father, and the actors fall short with the film’s often clichéd dialogue. This distance between Kenton and his son highlights the pair’s uneasy relationship at the beginning of the film, but Jackman and Goyo fail to develop an on-screen chemistry to show their transition from strangers to family.
While dueling robots are expected to provide dynamic action scenes — even more so than films like “Rocky” and “Warrior,” where only humans can jump in the ring — the action choreography in “Real Steel” is clunky and repetitive. With Michael Bay’s “Tranformers” setting a precedent for robot action, Levy’s attempt fails in comparison.
Despite an intriguing cast list, the film’s shallow script and disappointing fight sequences are often less exciting than a round of “Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots.”
“Real Steel” was directed by Shawn Levy and written by John Gatins, Dan Gilroy and Jeremy Leven.
1.5 out of 4 stars