I must preface this review with an observation. I wouldn't be surprised to look back at all the reviews of the past few months and find that many of them are emotion-based. I am pregnant, after all, and pregnancy, I hear, often leaves women with more of an emotion-based memory than a fact-based one. And here in the home stretch with about two weeks until delivery, I have got to be at my emotional peak.
So, it's no surprise that Real Steel affected me emotionally. But having seen it only today, I feel fairly certain that I can give you a well-rounded review with all the facts intact.
Real Steel stars Hugh Jackman (love that actor!) and young, new talent Dakota Goyo as an absentee father and his recently half-orphaned son, respectively. Charlie is a washed-up past boxer who now boxes robots in a world only a few years removed into the future from ours. But Charlie doesn't believe much in himself, and he tends to find himself on the losing side of things. Max is his eleven-year-old son whose life Charlie has invested nothing in. When Charlie's old girlfriend, Max's mom, dies, law dictates that Charlie gets first say on whether he wants the kid or not. Charlie is more than ready to pass the buck on, but his need for a little extra cash gets him an unwanted son for the summer.
The two antagonize each other at first, but quickly, they discover their mutual love for the sport of robot boxing, and no matter how unwilling a father Charlie is, he can't resist the pull on his buried emotions.
This is an underdog story, a story of failing and getting up again, a tale of broken relationships staggering to be made whole, a combination of sports and science fiction genres put together in epic scope for an ending that will make you cry the good kind of tears. I absolutely loved it.
The movie is rated PG-13 for some intense robot action and mild cursing. There is a scene where the dad gets beat up in front of his kid, which as a mother, I found heartbreaking to watch. PETA might get upset over an odd match between a robot and a bull (yes, you read that right). The antagonism between the father and son might bother a few conscientious parents, but it turns out as it should be. I would simply discuss the parental issues with younger kids. I think the main issue would be the robot violence, so just be aware of what your kids can handle before taking them to see this.
An interesting, mostly unrelated side note: two of TV's Lost characters appear in this movie, Evangeline Lilly as Charlie's old friend and love interest (extremely downplayed) and Kevin Durand (Lost villain Keamy), playing a villain once more.
Other interesting facts: this movie is based on a short story from the 1950s, "Steel," by Richard Matheson (who also wrote a novel called I Am Legend), and one of the executive producers is Steven Spielberg (no surprise there), who seems to have had his hands in several of this year's blockbusters.
I don't want to spoil the movie for anyone, but let me just say, what sort of movie can make you cry happy tears in the middle of a boxing match between two robots (if you're not a man, that is)? A good one, that's what.