Real Steel, dir. Shawn Levy, scr. John Gatins, based in part on the short story 'Steel' by Richard Matheson, st. Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly
In the near future, baying mobs gather in arenas to watch robots deck the drive-belts out of each other. Aside from this, not much else is different - selfish and stubborn single dads still deny paternity for example. Here, Jackman's Charlie Kenton sells off his fatherly obligation in return for looking after his estranged 11-year-old son for the Summer. Valuable life lesson learning inevitably ensues. Real Steel cracks opens a catering pack of schmaltz and makes sure everything is suitably saturated in its syrupy goodness. But there's heart here too, and one guesses exec producers Spielberg and Zemeckis, who've been turning out this kind of impassioned fantasy for years now, might have had something to do with it. And sure enough, nothing tugs at heartstrings like a mended familial bond, even one as crudely depicted as this. Jackman looks a little lost sometimes, furiously describing the obviously absent-whilst-filming CGI whilst he's performing in the way you might reassure yourself nothing bad's going to happen as you shortcut through the park on your way home. Goya as Kenton's son Max shows a bit of moppet-like grit, and Lilly has little to do than laugh and cry as the bad bot bows out and Father and Son are reunited beneath a shower of sparks and the smell of WD40. As comforting and with all the nutritional value of a stadium hotdog on a rainy day.