PARALLEL UNIVERSE: Don't Listen to the Critics -- Get Out and See 'Real Steel'

By David M. Kinchen
PARALLEL UNIVERSE: Don't Listen to the Critics -- Get Out and See 'Real Steel'
I was one of the millions of moviegoers who rejected the reviews of film critics and contributed to the $27.3 million weekend gross for "Real Steel" -- which won the box office sweepstakes.

Directed by Shawn Levy ("Date Night," "Night at the Museum," "Night at the Museum Smithsonian") "Real Steel" is a family picture that obviously was being enjoyed by the audience in Victoria, TX, where I saw it Sunday afternoon.

Hugh Jackman plays Charley Fenton, a former boxer and fight promoter in the future: the movie is set in 2020 when boxing is governed by the World Robot Boxing organization. The film was shot in locations around Michigan, which under ex-Gov. Jennifer Granholm adopted the film credits program of her native Canada, actively promoting Michigan as an alternative to Canada. Since I was born in South Haven, Mich., I applaud this move! For my review of Granholm's memoirs:

When Charley learns that Max, his 11-year-old son (played very winningly by Dakota Goyo) with his recently deceased ex-girlfriend, is the subject of a custody battle, he sees a way out of his financial morass. Max's aunt Debra (Hope Davis) and uncle Marvin (James Rebhorn) want full custody, and Charlie gives it to them in exchange for $100,000 from Marvin, $50,000 of in advance, on the condition that Charlie takes care of Max for three months, while Marvin and Debra are away on a second honeymoon.

Also excellent is Evangeline Lily as Bailey Tallet, Charley's good friend with benefits who owns the gym where Charley trained with her father. She lives in the gym and is also a fighting robot expert who helps him keep his various bots running smoothly.

Excellent in their roles as villains or people who could be are Kevin Durand as Ricky, trying to collect a betting debt of $20,000 from Charley, and Olga Fonda as a beautiful rich Russian fighting bot owner who wants to buy Atom, discovered in a junkyard by Max, who has bonded with Atom and won't allow Charley to accept her offer of $300,000.

So, again, don't look at Rotten Tomatoes and don't listen to the critics. See "Real Steel" or "A Boy, A Dad and a Bot" (my title!). I'm going to see it again. A bonus for fight fans: Boxing hall-of-famer Sugar Ray Leonard was an adviser for the boxing scenes.

From a news story on the film:

Based on the 1956 short story "Steel," which was later turned into an episode of the original "Twilight Zone" television series, "Real Steel" has earned only mediocre critical reviews. But moviegoers loved the picture, giving it an average grade of A, according to market research firm CinemaScore.
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