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Director: Shawn Levy
Hollywood seems to have a thing about huge bits of metal beating the hell out of each other. After all, robots don’t need insurance, don’t demand a trailer and don’t have the paparazzi chasing them all the time. In fact, it’s a wonder that people bothered to cast Hugh Jackman and his other human co-stars at all.
Jackman plays Charlie Kenton, a wayward ‘robot boxer’ (i.e. he controls massive robots which proceed to fight) who is constantly losing and spiraling into debt: a far cry from his glittering past career as an actual boxer. Enter Charlie’s estranged 11-year-old son Max who comes into the picture after his mother dies. Charlie is not prepared for any responsibility, instead he’s preparing to bring more robot boxers into battle. But when Max discovers a new robot boxer of his own, Charlie discovers that his winning ways are back. Soon father and son are headed to the top of the Robot Boxing League with the new robot Atom. But will they learn to trust one another?
Any film with the phrase ‘Robot Boxing League’ would seemingly have been written by a 5-year-old and, indeed, there’s about as much sophistication here to appeal to that age group. With a blindingly obvious storyline (imagine Rocky meets Transformers) and lots of shiny computer generated robots hitting each other, this is not exactly what you’d call complicated.
Hugh Jackman coasts along and his natural charisma manages to outshine some of the flat dialogue whilst Dakota Goyo plays Max as an 11-year-old going on 30. The rest of the cast prefer to sit in the shadow of the robots and collect their paychecks.
There’s just nothing special here with Levy’s direction uninspired, the story predictable and the cast wondering what their agent was doing. If you’re after some completely undemanding entertainment – and trust me, undemanding is the word – then this will fit the bill. Otherwise stick to playing with ‘Rock and Sock ‘Em Robots’ which are half the price and twice the fun.