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Carry on, robots

india Updated: Jan 20, 2012 17:00 IST

Real steel
Direction: Shawn Levy
Actors: Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo
Rating: ***

It's the proverbial David versus Goliath contest only instead of humans it's warrior robots who slug it out. A cross between the Rocky and Transformers films, Real Steel is set in the near future when traditional boxing has gone out of favour.

Enter a down-and-out former pugilist (the always affable Jackman). Perennially in debt, he ekes out a living by hustling beat-up robots on the underground fight circuit. Things go from bad to worse until the unexpected arrival of his estranged 11-year-old son (Goyo, too cute for comfort) leads to a predictable reversal of fortune.

Re-engineering a defunct robot rescued from the junk heap, the boy and his father get a title shot for their underdog contender at the world championship.

Loosely based on a 1956 short story by Richard Matheson, director Levy (the two Night at the Museum movies) brings a human dimension to a tale that's essentially about metallic monsters pummeling each other to scrap.

The script may be clogged with sports movie clichés but the action set pieces, including the thunderous final bout are handled with assurance. On the other hand, the loner protagonist's attempts to revive his relationship with his gym-owner girlfriend (Evangeline Lilly) are perfunctory.

Reportedly the producers, among them heavyweights Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis, have already green lighted a sequel.