Real Steel

You thought Hugh Jackman couldn't make a worse film that Wolverine? You ain't seen nothin' yet!


2 stars



Director: Shawn Levy

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, Kevin Durand


Jackman and Lilly dicuss the robots next move

Hugh Jackman's career as a leading man is a difficult one to fathom. Rocketed to A-list stardom on the back of his performance as Wolverine in the X-Men films, yet outside of that franchise it's hard to point to any successful films that he's fronted.


Sure, Jackman gives a fine performance in Christopher Nolan's turn of the century dueling-magicians flick, The Prestige, but once again that's an ensemble- piece where the former Broadway hoofer is given a very specific and clearly defined role to play.


Jackman puts his robot through some moves

No, the problems arise when Jackman is asked to carry a movie himself.


From Kate and Leopold through to Australia and even including his solo turn as Wolverine in the execrable X-Men: Origins, it seems pretty clear that as a leading man Jackman really has no nose for quality material.


Which explains just why the antipodean action-star could choose something as downright lame as the bizarre robot-boxing vehicle, Real Steel.


Set in the year 2020, the film tells the story of former flesh and blood boxer Charlie Kenton (Jackman), who's reduced to trawling American state fairs with his broken down boxing robot to earn a crust.


The clash of steel titans

However, just when Charlie is up to his eye balls in debt and facing ruin, he discovers that his ex-wife has died and he's forced to take his estranged son, Max (Dakota Goyo) into his custody.


In between shacking up at the gym/workshop of Charlie's ex-lover Bailey (a barely conscious Evangeline Lilly) and 'hitting the road' in typical 'real man' fashion, Real Steel evokes every 'authentic' American family movie cliché while adding absolutely nothing to them along the way.


As the film features both Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg among its myriad producers, it should come as no surprise to learn father and son soon overcome their differences and together build their own ramshackle, yet naturally brilliant robot fighter.


Based in part on the 1956 short story Steel by genre great Richard Matheson, the most frustrating aspect of Real Steel is that there's definitely an interesting and entertaining science fiction movie waiting to get out.


Evangeline Lilly shows her maternal side and her knickers to Jackman's son

Unfortunately, with nine producers listed and a director (Shawn Levy) who's known for making some of the blandest films in recent history, anything interesting in this property was gutted long ago and replaced with the standard Hollywood cheese and corn filling.


Despite the emptiness of the film and the ludicrous casting of Jackman as a former pug (he's surely the prettiest ex-boxer in history), the film is well- designed, well-shot and features both CG and animatronic work of the highest order.


However, for all its technical competence, Real Steel is simply a gaping void of a film.


Yearning to be a mix of Iron Man, Transformers and The Champ, it lacks the heart, wit and giant metal cojones of those earlier movies, and only succeeds in adding another notch onto Hugh Jackman's bedpost of bad movies.


James Peaty



Trailer. Below. See.



Real Steel
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