Review: Real Steel

Shawn Levy's Real Steel takes us to the year 2020, where robot boxing is one of the world's most popular sports. We meet down on his luck promoter, Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) who is grudgingly landed with the job of looking after his 11 year old son whilst trying to rise to the top of the Robot Boxing League.

Real Steel isn't overly demanding, it's a basic father-son narrative intertwined with a few special effects laden boxing scenes. The distant father-child relationship has been done countless times before (several times in Levy's other films) and can come quite tiring at points, however, this clearly isn't the reason anyone would be seeing a special effects laden film like Real Steel. The effects are stunning and some of the best computer generated work I've seen in the cinema, if Avatar is the benchmark for special effects then I'd say this completely surpasses it. The computer generated robots fuse seamlessly with the real world and the boxing sequences look magnificent.

It's incredibly difficult not to get involved in these boxing sequences, rooting for Kenton's robots, which makes for very entertaining viewing. However, at 127 minutes the film is quite long for a genre picture and when it's not a boxing scene the film can become slightly dull. One solution if you feel slightly bored during the film is to play a little game and see how many product placements you can spot (Ranging from Dr. Peper to HP, there's absolutely loads). Real Steel also lacks the traditional humour of Levy's other films and Jackman never really gets a chance to show of his comedy skills.

However, it's difficult to criticize an actor as likeable as Hugh Jackman and he does well in this. He's completely convincing in the role and the relationship developed between Charlie and his son is genuinely quite sweet. Lost's Evangeline Lily also appears (although not very much) and completely shines as Charlie's love-interest. Like most of the children in Levy's films, Max Kenton (Charlie's son, played by Dakota Goyo) is an incredibly annoying character, but well acted by the 12 year old Goyo.

Real Steel is fairly entertaining blockbuster entertainment with some entertaining performances and stylish direction from Levy, despite a fairly tired narrative. However, the special effects truly steal the show and really bring the high octane boxing scenes to life.

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