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It's pretty fun to watch if you're not coming in with "movie critic" high expectations, but in terms of everything — storytelling, visuals, characters, the works — this movie doesn't bring anything new to the table.
I mean, were you really surprised when over the course of the movie the rambunctious kid and his distant father bond over their mutual successes and losses, eventually coming to love each other like true family members should? And it's the kid that ends up teaching the parent that it's not all about money or success? And in the end they may not have won the battle, but it's still a happy ending because it's obvious they have many more successes ahead of them and they've (or just the father, really) grown as people along the way? Tell me that's not recycled.
Like most father/child bonding movies, they try to play Max as a Morality Pet for Charlie, but the kid's such a Canon Sue that it does not work at all. Charlie may get the token "horrible father becomes loving" Character Development but the kid gets none. Max starts out obnoxious and pretentious and stays that way through the whole thing. I get that he's supposed to be "mature" and a pre-Teen Genius, but it's very overdone. Not to mention that he talked like someone thrice his age, plus the fact that he gets even more screentime than Charlie does.
Oh, and Never Trust A Trailer for those of you expecting robot boxing for two hours. Don't worry, robot fights happen, but this movie suffers from the same major problem Transformers 3 did — too much of the humans. This one's actually worse than Transformers 3 in that regard. I know that might be stretching it, but Transformers: Dark of the Moon had more Transformers than Real Steel had robot-boxing. Granted, I thought the action sequences were much better coordinated and more well-thought-out than Transformers, but there isn't enough action to be satisfying. The robots don't play a big part in this at all; this movie is a human-centered drama at its core and it suffers for it.
Should you see it? Despite my numerous problems with it I did enjoy it while I was watching if for nothing but the gripping action. It's a guilty pleasure at most. If you just can't contain yourself, go see it for the robot fights and tune out everything else. Otherwise? Nah.
Wouldn\'t it suffer anyway if it was about the robots at its core?
Just because a movie is about something, that doesn\'t mean it has to be ONLY about something, or even that something has to make up the majority of the screen time. To use the most obviously relevant example, how much actual boxing was in Rocky? That film is 119 minutes long and considered by most the greatest boxing movie ever made, but how much of it was actually people hitting each other in a ring?
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