Hugh Jackman's 'Real Steel': What the Critics are Saying
Reviews are mixed regarding the Shawn Levy-directed sci-fi drama.
From the promotional materials alone, it is easy to see that DreamWorks’ Real Steel is taking cues from the Transformers and Rocky franchises. Starring Hugh Jackman, the Shawn Levy-directed film focuses on a world where boxing is illegal and fans pay to watch robots duke it out in the ring.
The film has received mixed reviews overall, most of which are quick to reference its predecessors. Read what a few of Hollywood’s top critics had to say about the film below.
“Rocky the Robot would have been the most accurate title for this bot-boxing melodrama, which feels like a mashup of spare parts from Transformers, The Champ, Star Wars and Sylvester Stallone's series, among other cash cows of various vintages,” writes THR’s Todd McCarthy. “The likeliest box-office outlook is a split decision.”
“An underdog drama with clanging metal-on-metal action, Real Steel feels scientifically programmed to claw at your heart while its battling robots, which have a semblance of human personality, drum up your adrenaline. That said, I’m not sure that the movie itself has more than a semblance of a heart,” writes New York Times’ Stephen Holden. “One thing missing is a genuine love story, although “Real Steel” throws in a perfunctory romance between Mr. Jackman's Rocky Balboa-like character, Charlie Kenton, and Bailey (Evangeline Lilly), his former sweetheart who owns a boxing gym that doubles as a robot workshop.”
Though Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers praises the Sugar Ray Leonard-assisted motion-capture technology, he slams the total package. “The tear-jerking in Real Steel is as shameless as its product placement. We're being hustled,” he writes
"Real Steel is a real movie. It has characters, it matters who they are, it makes sense of its action, it has a compelling plot. This is the sort of movie, I suspect, young viewers went to the Transformers movies looking for,” counters Roger Ebert. “Readers have told me they loved and identified with their Transformers toys as children. Atom must come close to representing their fantasies. Sometimes you go into a movie with low expectations and are pleasantly surprised.”
“As it happens, this recycled reclamation of underdogs saga is neither as bad as it sounds nor quite as good as it could be,” says Betsy Sharkey of the LA Times. “Although the 9-year-old bruiser next to me pummeled the armrest, spilled his soda and screamed ‘awesome’ through every one of the fight scenes. I took that for an endorsement, one I think the family film crowd not bothered by a little rough language will second.”
Dakota Goyo, the young actor behind Jackman’s son, appears to be a highlight of the film.
“In the role of 11-year-old, newly motherless Max, he is the saving grace of Real Steel, helping not only to bring out the humanity in Atom — Max just knows the bot has the circuitry of a champion — but sparking a flicker of life in Jackman, who's had a tough time getting his acting to outshine his muscle-flexing prowess and his model good looks,” continues Sharkey.
Real Steel hits theaters nationwide on Oct. 7.