Set in the near future, human boxing is banned and robot boxing is the big thing. Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) is an ex-boxer who is down on his luck. He drinks too much, runs out on debts and skips out on responsibility - in other words, he's not a nice guy. True to form, when he discovers he has an eleven year old son named Max (Dakota Goyo), he agrees to keep him for the Summer for a large sum of money.
He and Max travel in his large truck with a beat up looking robot in the back from one seedy county fair grounds to the next where he pits his animatron against other bigger, stronger models. When his robot is destroyed, they head home to patch it up and move on. Home is a boxing gym owned by Charlie's sometime-girlfriend (Lily Evangeline).
While out looking for parts in a metal junkyard, Max finds a sad specimen of a robot buried deep in mud. Against Charlie's wishes, he drags it home, cleans it up, tinkers with its mechanisms and makes "Atom" fight-worthy.
The settings are interesting, they start out at underground warehouses with rough looking characters yelling for a knock out. The climatic big fight, however takes place in a gleaming big arena with high tech machinery all around and patrons wearing their finest, although no matter how well dressed the audience is, the yelling sounds the same.
Produced by Steven Spielberg's Dream Works, Real Steel is aimed at boys who will most likely find the fight scenes well done and exciting. Everyone likes to root for the underdog, and this robot is smaller and weaker, but like Rocky, Atom has a lot of heart.