Review: When boxing turns techno, former human boxer and son go on a journey

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Charlie and Max march to the ring.

“Real Steel” was exciting, funny and fast-paced. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. But they should have showed more of fighter Charlie Kenton’s life before his career. They only provide a few pieces of the puzzle. They should also explain more about robot boxing and its past.

The movie opens with Charlie (Hugh Jackman) driving in his truck, then cuts to him being woken up by a phone call. The call is someone saying that Charlie owes him money. Some little girls come to the trailer part of the truck and ask, “Is that Ambush?” Charlie answers, “Yes, do you want to see him?” Charlie grabs a remote, and the robot Ambush stands and walks over. The girls want a picture but Charlie wants five bucks, so the girls go away.

The film cuts to Charlie and Ricky (Kevin Durand) talking. Charlie says he was supposed to be paid for his robot to fight a 500-pound bull, not a two-ton one. They decide on a prize of $20,000, winner takes all. Ambush goes into the arena, tackles and punches the bull, but the bull comes back to rip off the leg and gore Ambush. Exciting! As Charlie goes back to his truck, two men come from behind to tell him his ex-wife is dead and his son needs someone to take care of him.

Charlie’s sister-in-law really wants to adopt the son, Max (Dakota Goyo). Charlie needs a new robot, so agrees to keep Max for a few summer months to earn $50,000 from Max’s soon-to-be adoptive father. Charlie buys the bot Noisy Boy, who has been all around the world. In Brazil, Noisy Boy had voice controls put in him so you can speak into a mike and tell him how to attack. Father and son get Noisy a fight and he loses, harshly. This was disturbingly awesome.

Charlie and Max go to a junkyard and find another robot, this one a small sparring machine named Atom with a shadow function that lets it copy movements into its memory. Max begs Charlie to teach the bot to fight, and they get Atom an arena fight. He fights a strong robot named Twin Cities, a fighting machine with two heads. After a long fight, Atom wins again. Max threatens the strongest bot ever, Zeus, and says Atom can take him down.

Sadly, Charlie thinks it’s best to take Max to his new parents, but Charlie realizes this is the wrong move and fixes it. He also tells Max he has agreed to Atom’s fight with Zeus. Atom goes into the arena and is the first one to ever last through the first round with Zeus. The voice control stops working, and Charlie takes control with the shadow function, using his own boxing moves so that Atom knows how to fight . Atom hits Zeus so hard he falls to the ground.

The referee counts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Zeus gets up. Watch to find out how it ends.