Real Steel review

Rise of the machines…

Why you can trust GamesRadar+ Our experts review games, movies and tech over countless hours, so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about our reviews policy.

Charlie (Hugh Jackman) has made a mess of his life.

An ex-boxer who saw his title shot vanish when robot combat superseded human endeavours, he’s now peddling scrap metal town-to-town, pimping lacklustre ’bots in shabby slugging contests.

Heavily in debt, his relationship with unlikely gym-owner Bailey (Lost’s Evangeline Lily) has ground to a halt and he’s just been landed with his estranged 10-year-old son (Dakota Goyo), a stubborn introvert who insists Charlie rebuilds an outmoded robot and trains him up…

Brought to director Shawn Levy (Night At The Museum, Date Night) by Steven Spielberg, Real Steel combines the Beard’s love of droids (*batteries not included, Transformers) with his fondness for examining splintered families and childhood trauma.

It is, at heart, a fatherand- son-bond-on-the-road movie – albeit punctuated by crunching fight scenes as 2000lb machines spill buckets of hydraulic fluid – though it also bobs and weaves through every sports movie cliché en route to a rousing finale.

Levy spent six months retooling the script and you can’t help thinking he watched Over The Top and Rocky IV during that time.

With its tale of redemption, reconnection and triumphant underdogs interwoven with seamless effects boasting a palpable physicality (four of the 19 ’bots were constructed, full-size, at $500,000 apiece), Real Steel does nothing new but does it well. Jackman’s solid, the kid’s likeable and the climactic fight is a prize winner.

Only those with a heart of tin could resist.

More info

Available platformsMovie
Editor-at-Large, Total Film

Jamie Graham is the Editor-at-Large of Total Film magazine. You'll likely find them around these parts reviewing the biggest films on the planet and speaking to some of the biggest stars in the business – that's just what Jamie does. Jamie has also written for outlets like SFX and the Sunday Times Culture, and appeared on podcasts exploring the wondrous worlds of occult and horror.