DVD Review: Real Steel

Hugh Jackman as Charlie Kenton in Real Steel.
Hugh Jackman as Charlie Kenton in Real Steel.
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(Cert 12, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Sci-Fi/Action/Romance, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £21.99). In 2020, former brawler Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) boxes robots for a living but he is massively in debt.

He thinks his prayers have been answered when he sells custody of his 11-year-old son Max (Dakota Goyo) to the boy’s aunt and uncle (Hope Davis, James Rebhorn) for 100,000 dollars. As part of the deal, he must look after the boy for the summer with the help of best friend Bailey (Evangeline Lilly). Father and son bond over an abandoned sparring ‘bot called Atom and they train the ancient machine to punch and stomp up the rankings of the World Robot Boxing league (WRB) to a championship showdown with the fearsome Zeus, designed by Tak Mashido (Karl Yune) and owned by Russian ice maiden Farra Lemcova (Olga Fonda). Real Steel is a futuristic action adventure that handsomely showcases Jackman’s rippling muscles. The Australian actor and youngster Goyo share a winning screen chemistry that holds our interest through some plodding interludes. Lilly looks beautiful in a two-dimensional supporting role. Rocky goes five rounds with Short Circuit in Shawn Levy’s crowd-pleasing film that hinges on a familiar clash between father and estranged son, using the fictitious sport of robot boxing to salve old wounds. The special effects hardware is mightily impressive, combining John Rosengrant’s animatronics with metal-crunching digital trickery, but the software of John Gatins’s script is infected with the sentimentality virus.