Adam Cook’s review published on Letterboxd :
I’ve been a bit dubious of the strong reviews and good word of mouth this film has garnered because, as far as I am concerned, Shawn Levy has never made a film even close to being competent let alone good. Well it pleases me to say Real Steel is his first.
It’s not a classic and it does nothing new to the familiar sporting underdog story (apart from adding 8ft tall robots into the mix of course), but it hits all the plot beats with precision and flair. Hugh Jackman makes a likeable lead despite the fact he is a pretty unlikeable character (although with lots of potential for redemption) and he is supported reasonably well by the rest of the cast, bar one. Unfortunately, his son is the precocious type of kid that dominate Hollywood family movies but you can’t help but hate. The fact he has such a prominent role and still doesn’t ruin the film speaks volumes of the film’s other qualities.
The film may offer no real surprises but it doesn’t stop you getting swept up in the action. It’s cheesy but in an endearing, Rocky IV kind of way, and the fighting sequences manage to make you emotionally invest in nothing but scrap metal and CGI. The robot angle is obviously the thing that differentiates it from the competition and every single one of them is brilliantly realised. The CGI is flawless and they’ve managed to imbue the machines with real character despite being inanimate objects (something Bay failed to do in three Transformers films). The fights are brilliantly choreographed with a great ebb and flow and perfect pacing and the exaggerated violences is incredibly entertaining.
A heartwarming film that, bar the odd bum note, is a feel good triumph.