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October 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Of all the man-versus-giant-robots movies that have been released recently — and there have been virtually tons of them — Real Steel is faring best with critics. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, a fan of science fiction as a youth, has not had many positive things to say about sci-fi movies as an adult, but he likes Real Steel. It is, he says, “a real movie. It has characters, it matters who they are, it makes sense of its action, it has a compelling plot. … Sometimes you go into a movie with low expectations and are pleasantly surprised.” Many reviewers compare the movie with Rocky; Carrie Rickey in the Philadelphia Inquirer compares it with The Champ. “It’s the daddy/sonnyboy relationship that really packs the knockout punch. Yes, it’s unapologetically sentimental (and sometimes unapologetically cheesy), but Shawn Levy’s film has an irresistible force,” she writes. Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times brought a nine-year-old along with her to the press screening, and while she herself concluded that the movie “is neither as bad as it sounds nor quite as good as it could be,” the nine-year-old, she wrote, “pummeled the armrest, spilled his soda and screamed ‘awesome’ through every one of the fight scenes. I took that for an endorsement, one I think the family film crowd not bothered by a little rough language will second.” Stephen Holden of the New York Times is another critic who came away with mixed reactions to the movie, which he says, “ultimately leaves you simultaneously exhilarated and tainted with the suspicion that you’ve been had: that Real Steel is itself a product of artificial intelligence, with no real humanity.