My full-length review that may or may not have less swearing at the Herald.

Real Steel provoked the critic in me. Coming on the heels of my reaction to 50/50, it’s kind of funny, in a way that’s unlikely to make you laugh. With 50/50, I thought “screw my doubts, I loved it, it’s great.” Yet despite the fact Real Steel had me cheering during the big robot fights–not literally cheering, I’m far too painfully self-conscious to make audible noises to something happening on a screen–it annoyed me too much to give in to the emotional response it provoked in me.

What’s annoying about Real Steel? Hugh Jackman’s kid, mainly. He’s supposed to be 11, but he talks like he’s at least 15 and is as self-possessed as a 35-year-old. The Hollywood cliche of the unbelievably precocious kid is one that really sets me off, so if it doesn’t really bug you, bump my grade to a C+, and if you get a kick out of kids who don’t act their age, seek therapy.

But even if this is a bigger deal for me than most, Real Steel has a lot of flaws. Hugh Jackman and son’s motivations swerve wildly. In at least two instances, they completely reverse their stances from one scene to the next. This isn’t some high-minded nod to the ambiguity and indecisiveness of real life. It’s a cheap, manipulative ploy for laughs and plot advancement. And that’s Real Steel as a whole. It isn’t awful. It doesn’t blow the deceased. In fact, it’s pretty easy to get swept up in. But that’s because the people who made it are just pushing emotional buttons. The hardware supporting those buttons falls apart as soon as you open the case.


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