I am actually lost for words. Real Steel did this to me. It's a film that has its heart in the right place, but fails on so many levels that it disheartened me tremendously.
Real Steel stars High Jackman as an ex-boxer, now participating in robot boxing, down on his luck and left with a son that he disowned. The film simply put lacks originality. Taking ideas from a few movies of the 80s and 90s it never rises up to anything spectacular. It primarily takes its story from Sylvester Stallone's Over The Top and places it in the not-so-distant future where rather than hand-wrestling we have robots fighting. There is an endless wait throughout the movie for something to happen. Unfortunately, when it does happen, and I’m guessing it is the end fight, which resembles Stallone's Rocky IV, it is nothing but a fizzle.
Real Steel lacks emotion. The supposed father-son bonding does not have the same angst that we had in Over The Top. The "air boxing" that Hugh Jackman does in the final climatic fight is laughable. The family dynamics are just too Disney-esq and might have worked a couple of decades ago, but not anymore when people look for some reality and edge in relationships, even on screen.
Surprisingly enough, the only interesting aspect of the movie comes from hunk of metal piled together in the form of robots. The robot fights are fun, in-your-face, and intense. They are pictured meticulously and turn out to be the only saving grace during the entire abysmal film.
Real Steel works as a clean family movie, especially if you have a pre-teen son. It tries to be uplifting, with the father and son coming together as underdogs to take on the reigning Robot champion, but unfortunately it is the robots that show more emotion than the humans and that is why probably Real Steel is nothing but a stylized piece of movie dud.