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article imageOp-Ed: ‘Real Steel’ punches through to home video

By Sarah Gopaul     Jan 25, 2012 in Entertainment
Futuristic boxing picture, Real Steel, – aka Rocky with robots – is available on Blu-ray and DVD combo pack January 24, 2012.
Despite the mechanical attributes often applied to Sylvester Stallone’s performance, Rocky was a film about a man fighting against the odds. It’s the textbook definition of an underdog story – and the premise of most boxing movies. In Real Steel, audiences discover that if you replace the flesh and blood ring opponents with robots, you still get a poignant David and Goliath story.
Charlie (Hugh Jackman) used to be a top-notch boxer, until the world banned the sport for its brutality. Unable to stay away from the excitement of a good match, he becomes a sort of manager for robot fighters – the only game left in town. Traveling the world, attempting to keep the dream alive, Charlie runs into an obstacle: the mother of the child he abandoned has died, making him the legal guardian of 12-year-old Max (Dakota Goyo). Determined not to be left behind, Max gets a robot of his own and becomes an international sensation.
The year in which the film takes place is unclear, except that it’s post-2016 and Eminem is still popular. Bits of robot fighting history are dropped occasionally, referring to the evolution of machines to the current generation of warrior, but nothing is clearly laid out. This isn’t a downfall however; it actually contributes to the narrative’s ties to a “realistic” future. Moreover, the robots are not wholly unbelievable. They’re simply larger and more durable than the many robots being created today, such as ASIMO. Through high-tech remotes, a human is able to control a mechanical wrestler from outside the ring, much like operating a video game. If anything in the film is farfetched, it’s mankind’s abandonment of its blood lust.
The fights are entertaining and help maintain a steady pace for the 127-minute film. The arenas vary from World Robot Boxing-sanctioned, high-end bouts in large stadiums to ruleless throwdowns in a long abandoned zoo. The matches are more sophisticated than a Rock’em Sock’em Robots fight, mimicking moves from wrestling to boxing – though many competitions are still ended by knocking off an opponent’s head. The robots are immortalized rather than their operators, though there is recognition given outside of the ring by fellow promoters.
The humans’ story is still the primary focus. Jackman personifies this role. He is self-assured and athletic, owning any crowd into which he walks. His training with on-set consultant and boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard clearly paid off. Moreover, Jackman’s cockiness oozes through his robots, often to their downfall. Toronto-born Goyo conveys the enthusiasm and commitment of a child given the chance to live his dream. He also displays some pretty nifty dance moves. The Canadian star power was strengthened by Thunder Bay native Kevin Durand and fellow Canucks Evangeline Lilly and director Shawn Levy.
Levy likes good characters combined with a little action, so this story was perfect for the director. It can be a little too cutesy at times, but the emotional attachment developed to both the people and machines is undeniable. In addition, even though the robots do not have artificial intelligence, they appear to have emotions – particularly Max’s fighter, Atom.
Director: Shawn Levy
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Kevin Durand and Evangeline Lilly
Special features include: commentary by director Shawn Levy; “Sugar Ray Leonard: Cornerman’s Champ,” a profile of the legendary boxer who was an on-set consultant; deleted and extended scenes with introductions by director Shawn Levy; “Countdown to the Fight: The Charlie Kenton story”; “Making of Metal Valley”; “Building the Bots”; bloopers; and “Second Screen,” which allows viewers to explore interactive galleries, play games, and learn interesting facts about the scenes they’re watching while perfectly synched on an Internet-enabled second device. (DreamWorks Studios)
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This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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