All the scenes with the robots and Charlie and Max are great. The combinations of real robots and animated ones are seamless. As Jackman has been quoted, "It's amazing that in this world where I'm used to a green screen and a stick with a tennis ball on it [to give an actor a visual target of where a CGI element will be inserted later] that Spielberg actually said to Shawn [Levy, the director], 'You should really have real elements where you can.' ... Basically, if they're not walking or fighting, that's a real robot." Sugar Ray Leonard is also credited as an adviser to the fighting sequences, which helps with the feeling of authenticity.
Real Steel features a subplot of the estranged father and son getting to know one another. The movie doesn't tie up all the emotional loose ends in the tidy, unrealistic knot of Charlie embracing fatherhood, but we do feel that Max will get to spend some more time with Charlie and Atom in the future, after their summer adventure.
For the most part, Real Steel is just a lot of fun. Jackman is always physically impressive, but he has some nice, quieter scenes with both Max and his current on-off girlfriend, played by Evangeline Lilly. There are some over-the-top annoying product placements, but they are amusingly presented — after we watch Max guzzle prominently placed can after can of Dr. Pepper, Charlie scowls and criticizes the kid, who is bouncing off the walls from the caffeine — "You drank all that soda?" There's something very real about Charlie and Atom and Real Steel that keeps it appealing.