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Movie Review: ‘Real Steel’

Ablestock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For anyone nostalgic about the old game Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots comes Real Steel, an unapologetically derivative sci-fi boxing movie full of cliches and enough product placement to make you think you might've stumbled upon a highly-produced Home Shopping Network block. OK, perhaps that's a bit extreme. Or perhaps not.
Let's start with the good: Hugh Jackman. Hugh Jackman is always good. Here, he does yeoman's work as Charlie Kenton, a former boxer turned down-on-his-luck robot boxing promoter.  In the near-future world of Real Steel, robot boxing is all the rage -- humans don't box anymore because robots are capable of greater violence, minus the bloodshed.  At least, that’s basically how Charlie describes it in a scene with his 11-year-old son, Max.
Which brings us to the bad.  Charlie, who’s estranged from Max, agrees to take care of him for the summer when Max's mother dies.  For a kid who just lost his mom and is stuck with a dad he neither knows nor likes, Max is incredibly well-mannered and polite. Unbelievably so.  Dakota Goyo, who plays Max, is an excellent young actor but his character is just that -- unbelievable, like everything else in Real Steel.  Including the scene when Max rescues a 1,000-pound robot from a junkyard.  All by himself.
Despite Real Steel’s faults, a tip of the hat to director Shawn Levy for dressing up a bad story and making it entertaining enough not to be terrible.

Two-and-a-half out of five stars.
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ABC News Radio