Its metaphors are shallow and its plot predictable, but Real Steel is still fun in a fighting-robots-movie kinda way. In the near future, robot boxing has replaced human boxing. Fans wanted more carnage, as former fighter Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) points out. Still, Charlie's wallet takes a beating, until he and his estranged son Max (Dakota Goyo) find salvation in a junk robot named Atom. (Charlie is so desperate for cash at one point, he sells custody of Max to fuel his fighting-robot habit.) The movie's bots may be steel, but the humans are cardboard. At least the fights are solid. Atom is as underdog as they come, making it impossible not to root for him. And the father-son bonding eventually grows on you, landing a surprising blow to the heartstrings.
Dir. Shawn Levy; writ. John Gatins; feat. Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Dakota Goyo, Anthony Mackie, Kevin Durand (PG-13)