MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Real Steel’ manipulates as it entertains

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

You might feel entertained and manipulated at the same time during “Real Steel.”
Hugh Jackman has too much charm to play Charlie Kenton, a down-and-out loser who’s willing to “sell” his newly rediscovered son for $100,000. As he’s making the deal, you know he’s going to regret it.
His son, Max (Dakota Goyo), is a charmer, too, and he knows exactly how to push the right buttons to turn Charlie into a good father.
The pushing buttons metaphor makes perfect sense for “Real Steel,” since it’s about a time in the near future when robots battle each other for fun and cash.
Charlie used to be the kind of fighter who didn’t know when to quit. Now, he’s outside of the ring and controls robot fighters.
He’s not good at his job until Max has a near-death experience and discovers a robot in a trash heap.
Here’s an odd thing about “Real Steel”: I liked that scrappy robot from the minute he was powered up. The fight scenes had me twisting in my chair, silently screaming at Atom the robot to get off the ground and throw some punches.
Every scene inside the ring is riveting, so much so that I was able to forgive – to a degree – the rest of the movie’s paint-by-numbers feel. To be honest, even the fights were paint-by-numbers, but I was caught up in them.
Apparently, robot fighting in the future involves sleazy people and places. The language gets a bit saucy, but the filmmakers apply the Charlie and Max double-dose of charm, so “Real Steel” could pass for a ride at Disney World.
I’d like to write this movie off as a waste of time, but can’t. Sure, I could almost see strings being pulled throughout the film, but in the end, I was caught up in the action, and that’s something I didn’t see coming.
I give “Real Steel” a C.
It’s showing at Malcos in Tupelo, Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, as well as Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville and Movie Reel 4 in New Albany.
Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.

Kelli Karlson Wizard 106.7 She gives “Real Steel” a B plus. “I found it predictable but the fight scenes were fantastic. It’s not very family friendly because of the language.”