The Netflix Sci-Fi Action Thrill Ride That’s Finally Finding Its Fans

By Jason Collins | Published

It’s not uncommon for movies with lackluster reception to find new life on streaming services such as Netflix. The most recent example of this is 2011’s Real Steel, which has been steadily climbing Netflix’s rankings since its introduction to the platform—it’s currently ranked number 8 on the top-10 list in the US.

Robot Wrestling

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Real Steel is basically a movie about a boy and his robot, but also a former boxer father training said robot to fight in matches. The narrative is set in the year 2020, and human boxing has been replaced by towering robots that duke it out in the ring as proxies. Hugh Jackman, now a retired fighter, is struggling to find footing in this new world by controlling robots in the ring while also fixing them outside, while also trying to repair his relationship with his estranged son, who also happens to be a true robot-repairing genius and robot boxing buff.

Hugh Jackman As Charlie

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Real Steel is a really great movie; Jackman’s character, Charlie, loses his bot in a fight, his former girlfriend dies, and he now gets temporary custody of his estranged son, Max. While scavenging for replacement parts in a junkyard, Max discovers Atom, an obsolete and dilapidated but mostly intact sparring robot designed to withstand severe damage. However, Atom is also equipped with a rare “shadow function” to mirror and memorize handler or opponents’ movements or mimic them in real life as a means of controlling the robot.

The Final Showdown

hugh jackman real steel

By the end of Real Steel, Charlie, Max, and Atom fight through the underground fights and get to challenge the biggest dog, undefeated champion, and marvel of technology in the official sports league—a final boss fight, if you will. We won’t spoil the movie for those who haven’t watched it, but we’ll say that it has plenty of punching, plenty of parts and hardware flying around, and quite a bit of emotion by the movie’s end.

Audiences Enjoyed Real Steel More Than Critics

hugh jackman logan's run

We have to admit that calling Real Steel “a great movie” is entirely subjective. But we believe we’re also talking on behalf of the majority of those who’ve seen it. The critics were split down the middle when the movie first launched, and Rotten Tomatoes scored it at a reasonable 60 percent. Fans, however, pushed the audience score up to 73 percent, and since we tend to believe everyday Joes and Janes when it comes to our entertainment rather than movie critics, the audience score only backs up our initial argument.

Real Steel At The Box Office

Real Steel wasn’t a complete flop at the time of its release, and it managed to recuperate its budget; its earnings are just a bit shy of $300 million, which were made on a $110 million budget. The plot twist about the film is that now, more than a decade later, there are some talks about the sequel. The original film’s director, Shawn Levy, stated that he would want to reunite with Hugh Jackman for a sequel but also introduce Ryan Reynolds to the story—something Levy and Jackman have previously discussed. Real Steel is currently streaming on Netflix.