In the very near future tastes have changed, people pay to see human controlled Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots face off in the ring. No word as to if Nascar was replaced by those annoying really loud 1 foot remote cars, or if the cancelled NBA season is really a precursor to the preferred future – that of a bunch of fat white kids huddled around an Xbox directing pixellated LeBrons…
Flimsy premise aside, one of the countless aspiring Don Kings is Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman), a skiving, deadbeat Dad who doesn’t even know how old his own son is, and jumps at the chance to turn a potential custody war into quick cash. The only terms of which are that he must spend a few months with the kid first so that the future guardians can have a nice holiday.
I’m tearing up already. You?
So before you decry Charlie as a thoughtless arsehole (he is) we should discuss the kid, an eleven year old named Max, who turns out to be a headstrong, annoying little bastard too.
An early Cat’s in the Cradle Father/Son moment takes place when the duo of convenience break into a junkyard to steal parts, only to find a discarded battle bot that Max decides to keep for himself. I guess the rationale being look you might have taken me stealing, but I stole this one myself.
They name the thing Atom, and he goes on to fight…
Cue the Prodigy and banality. One of those is a band, the other describes this movie.
So with all the ducks in a row the film becomes a straightforward exercise in saccharine coated moron friendly overcoming of obstacles. People laugh at the kid entering the ring with his dilapidated mostly scrap sparring robot, they sneer at Charlie the washed up coach. Could this be any more Disney, though normally instead of a crappy robot named Atom it would be a horse, car, dog, bike or simply ‘Item X that teaches people to love again’.
I hated the kid Max. I hated Charlie the deadbeat Dad. I hated the gormless baying masses in the crowd scenes cheering inanely like it was an American Idol rehearsal. I hated this film.
I hated this film BEFORE the robot started dancing. Before it started doing The Robot actually.
The only thing more robotic than Atom is the ‘Aw shucks we all love each other now’ stuff.
These are the ingredients to a shit sandwich that is supposed to win the audience over?!? Oh I forgot Evangeline Lilly as Bailey, an ex-flame of Charlie whose role is apparently to re-fall in love with his from watching his exploits on TV. This is no Robo-Rocky my friends.
Put another way, I get that some people don’t mind being told what they like, enough well known critics or simply sheer advertising saturation can influence the opinion of many incapable of forming their own opinion. But if I was invited to someone’s home and I saw Real Steel in the Blu-Ray/DVD pile, I’d be asking serious questions of myself before I revisited that home.
Final Rating – 4.5 / 10. I hated this film so very much. A genuine contender for worst big budget film of 2011.