Real Steel

real steel poster

There are certain things in life that make everything much easier and you don’t even notice. In a movie, quality writing, or even mediocre writing, is something that you never notice because, when done properly, the film will flow seamlessly. However, when the writing is lacking it is painfully apparent and the majesty of film is lost entirely. For a film like Real Steel that had reasonable potential to be entertaining, the lack of quality dialog and writing prevented a complete film from being made.



Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) is a washed-up boxer currently moving haphazardly from small check to small check in the underground world of robot boxing. When he finds out the mother of his son, whom he abandoned years ago, has died, Charlie must find a way to watch the kid for three months until his aunt can take custody. Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie and Kevin Durand costar.

“I want you to fight for me! That’s all I ever wanted!” “We can’t win, can we?” “I really need the money.” This is just a taste of the kind of dialog plaguing Real Steel. They won’t even list any of Lilly’s lines on IMDB for fear of breaking the site under the weight of the hackneyed clichés. I am not going to say she’s the greatest actress, but if you give someone a broken product there’s only so much that can be done. Usually, the lack of intelligent dialog wouldn’t be much of a problem; you can overlook a bad or cheesy line every once in a while. But when the dialog between action scenes is consistently bad, it removes you from the film.

 real steel 1

The whole point of a film like Real Steel is to escape reality and revel in some mindless entertainment. While this ends up being true to some degree, there are simply too many instances of conscious removal to allow the film to stick in your mind as memorable, let alone entertaining.

It’s a shame because the scenes with the robots are amazingly fun. By the end of the movie I freely admit that I found myself anxious while rooting for Atom (Jackman’s robot). They deftly bring in the atmosphere of a prizefight between the underdog and the moneymaking heavyweight. Even the small-circuit fights are entertaining because you can sense that these fights are for the owners’ livelihood. The best part is that none of it is human-on-human contact so there’s no remorse in breaking someone else’s toy.


Speaking of which, one element to the film that is largely ignored is the semi-sentient nature of Atom. He responds to the kid’s pleas and requests, but the film mercifully ignores this route and focuses more on the redemption aspect.

Essentially, the film succeeds where you’d hope: in the action. Unfortunately, all action does not a film make. For a mindless, lazy Sunday movie, you could do worse than Real Steel. To be honest, watching it on mute would probably work well. Just play a few YouTube clips of arenas and you’ll be good to go.

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