Real Steel is a robot boxing movie that has very little to do with robots and very little to do with boxing. Truly the reason this movie made it into my DVD player was because it was a robot boxing movie and I am an SF geek who tries to see every science fiction movie that comes down the pipe no matter the quality. Admittedly there was a little hesitation when I saw that song and dance man / Wolverine Hugh Jackman was in the lead role. Was he going to be Wolverine in a robot boxing movie? What kind of range does he actually have?
Jackman plays down and out Charlie Kenton a former professional boxer who has turned to robot boxing as a way to earn a living. Playing opposite Jackman is newcomer Dakota Goyo as Max Kenton the son Charlie kind of knew he had but for whom he never had the time. That was all well and good until Max's mother died and it was time for biodad to step up and be a father. Charlie Kenton has no interest in being a father but finds that he must be one for at least a few months so brings Max along to experience the world of robot boxing.
In essence robot boxing could be substituted for any individual sporting event. It would have made little difference to the movie if the backdrop had been professional video gaming, tennis, karate or badminton the story is not about the sport. The sport of robot boxing offers the eye candy, the lure if you will, to an audience that may not have been willing to step up and watch a movie about the relationship between an estranged father and his son. This is a sweet little movie that is only mildly a science fiction movie and mostly a family movie. The main characters of Max and Charlie are well drawn while the rest of the characters who populate the movie are almost but not quite cartoon characters not entirely devoid of dimension but pretty close to it. All in all this is a very enjoyable way to spend two hours with the family.