'Real Steel': Hugh Jackman lands solid punches in robot boxing tale – cleveland.com

When Hugh Jackman was in Cleveland a few weeks ago, he talked about how much he loved underdog movies, the kind that make you jump up out of your seat. He said it was his love for the "Rocky" series (even the bad "Rocky" movies), "Chariots of Fire" and "The Champ" that made him want to make "Real Steel."
The new boxing movie is set in the near future, when folks have apparently tired of humans beating each other senseless. Now the ring masters are 8-foot steel robots whose movements are controlled by their human trainers. Jackman plays the not-so-nice Charlie Kenton, a washed up fighter who now scrounges the lower levels of robot battles looking for a quick buck.
Down to his last chance, he inherits some precious cargo: his 11-year-old son, Max. Charlie has been an extreme-absentee dad, and his initial interest in Max is purely mercenary — he finagles some cash to look after Max for the summer.
Max (the adorable Dakota Goyo who played the young Thor in "Thor") is not too thrilled with the arrangement until he becomes smitten with the robots. Needless to say, Charlie softens and, with the help of Charlie's heart-of-gold, gym-owning friend Bailey (Evangeline Lilly), they set out to turn a formerly junked robot into a championship contender.
REVIEW Real Steel
Who: With Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Dakota Goyo. Directed by Shawn Levy.
Rated: PG-13 for some violence, in tense action and brief language.
Running time: 127 minutes.
When: Opens Friday.
Where: Area theaters.
Grade: B+
Some of the training involves the robots mimicking the humans, and Jackman's dancing background and boxing training (Sugar Ray Leonard was a consultant) pay nice dividends in the bam-boom choreography. Using some "Avatar"-like motion-capture techniques, the filmmakers were able to create "realistic" shimmering fighters.
Much of "Real Steel" is too pat, too derivative and too predictable. But there is no denying its power as an energetic bang-'em-up crowd-pleaser that should appeal to kids and families (though it does carry a PG-13 rating, mostly for its violence).
Jackman and Goyo, a charming duo, are able to pull off the father-son redemption story in the midst of all the visual effects. I can't say I jumped up out of my seat, but I was cheering for them. And, oh yeah, the robots look awesome.
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