Charlie, Max, Atom bash way to top in Real Steel

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By Erik Brito

3 1/2 stars

Boxing robots. That’s a movie idea that interested me as soon as I saw the first trailer. With my expectations on high, I went in and came out more than satisfied.

Once a promising boxer, Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) now has a life full of debts and disappointments. No longer a boxer himself, Kenton fights by controlling new-age boxing robots. He performs in places like carnivals and shady boxing clubs, far from the huge arenas he once dreamt of.

Within the first 30 minutes of the movie two of Kenton’s robots are destroyed. One gets bashed around by a bull. The other is beheaded in a underground boxing match.

To add even more stress to Kenton’s life is the reapperance of his son Max (Dakota Goyo), who he abandoned at a young age after the boy’s mother died. Luckily for Max, his rich unlce Marvin and aunt Debra are there to take custody of him. Eventually, however, Max finds his way back to his father. In reality, Uncle Marv pays Charlie 100,000 dollars to take the kid off his hands for a while. Nice huh?

So there is a nice family story going on, but let’s get back to robots bashing each other. Charlie, in need of more money and with no more robots, decides to create one. While in a junk yard Max uncovers an old sparring robot named Atom. Atom plays the part of the underdog in the movie. His ability to withstand massive damage and his special ability known as “Mirror Mode,” which allows him to mimic the movements of whomever he focuses on, come in handy while fighting bigger robots. With Charlie’s training and Max’s in-ring dancing gimmicks, Atom catches the people’s eye, eventually leading him to taking on the mighty Zeus, the champing robot.

The film’s key characters Charlie, Max, and Atom are enough to make the movie complete. In Charlie we see a transformation into a responsible and loving father. Max provides the laughs from his hot-headed remarks and his ability to make Charlie angry. (Come on, who doesn’t laugh when the kid outsmarts the parents?) Finally, in Atom, we see the determination little guy as he faces overwhelming odds.

In the ring Atom battles robots much bigger and cooler looking than he. And even after being bashed in the head, thrown all over the place, and continually gutted, the little dude is able to get up and take on more. Atom is without a doubt my favorite character of the film. A true underdog, Atom takes hit after hit, each one more brutal than the last, but still gets up to take on the mighty Zeus. The last battle shows the courage the tiny bot has.

Atom also serves as the link between Charlie and Max. As father and son clash over what is best to do with Atom as they prepare him to take on his next opponent, they find common ground and start repairing their own relationship.

In watching Real Steel I felt like I was in the crowd at a fight. I cheered Atom’s comebacks, groaned at the punches he took, and clapped along with the rest of the audience when the filmed ended. The boxing robots seemed lifelike and interesting. Not bad for a bunch of metal and circuits.

I’m positive I will be spending another 11 dollars to catch this flick once more on the big screen.

Real Steel deserves the praise it gets and more.


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