The simplicity of boxing makes it a sport particularly suited to effective treatment in all manner of films. Two opponents, trained to pinnacle of their physical potential, face-to-face an pummeling one another in a ring from which only one victor will emerge. It's clean, universally comprehensible, and can be mined for maximum drama. Classic films that have centered, to varying degrees, around onscreen pugilism include Raging Bull, The Champ, Rocky, and, more recently, The Fighter.
If boxing is the sport of kings, then by the transitive property, robot-boxing is the sport of robot-kings. The new film Real Steel, which hits (seriously, no pun intended) theaters tomorrow, takes place in a near-future inspired by the Richard Matheson short story Steel. In this stylized setting, traditional boxing has been completely usurped by a version in which the pugilists are no longer flesh-and blood humans, but are instead hulking, nine-foot tall robots designed and built specifically to pummel each other, with a human operator involved via remote.
Hugh Jackman stars as Charlie Kenton, a former prizefighter who lost his chance at a championship title when the robots took over and now earns a meager living as a hustler of low-level match-ups. Mortified to find he's suddenly the guardian of a son he didn't know was his, played by Dakota Goyo, Charlie and his boy revive an out-of-date training robot named Atom, and this unlikely trio of underdogs find themselves on the path to robo-boxing glory. At a press conference in Los Angeles, IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick was on hand to hear what Jackman, co-star Anthony Mackie, and boxing legend/ trainer/fight choreographer Sugar Ray Leonard had to say about Real Steel.
Synopsis: In this futuristic underdog tale, Hugh Jackman stars as Charlie Kenton, a former prizefighter who lost his shot at a championship title when traditional boxing was replaced by robot-boxing, the world's most popular sport. When he's suddenly reunited with the son he never knew he had, Charlie finds a training robot that they'll attempt to make an unlikely champ.
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, Hope Davis, Phil LaMarr, Karl Yune
Director: Shawn Levy
Genre: Science Fiction, Sports, Family
Release Date: October 7, 2011
The future of sportsmanship depicted in the upcoming science-fiction sports movie Real Steel is a bright one for any draft-dodgers and dandies too fearful or fragile to step into a boxing ring and have the piss properly beaten out of them. In this near-future, human boxing has been replaced by the world's most popular sport: robot boxing, with two eight-foot metallic combatants beating each others' circuits out. That's good news for the pantywaists operating boxing-bots via remote controls, but bad news for former prizefighter Charlie Kenton, played by Hugh Jackman. DreamWorks Pictures has released five new clips from Real Steel, and they depicts, variously, Jackman being a charming, down on his luck underdog, Evangeline Lilly being stunningly beautiful, and, of course, robots pummeling each other.
A new extended television spot for the upcoming family-friendly boxing tale Real Steel plays up the two things that seemingly every movie set in the business of pugilism must incorporate: an underdog story and some appropriately bruising boxing sequences. It does the first by establishing Hugh Jackman as a washed up prizefighter who gets his ass kicked and is generally having a bad run of luck. It does the second with lots and lots of very expensive visual effects depicting eight foot tall robots engaging in metal-on-metal action, as sports in the future of Real Steel are dominated by a boxing league in which the combatants are not sweaty humans, but are instead remote-control robots roughing each other up for the entertainment of America.
I've always assumed that a crucial part of pugilism's appeal lay in the fact that boxing involves rigorously trained flesh and blood boxers causing each other grievous body harm up to an including major brain damage. The upcoming film Real Steel posits a future just nine years from now in which old-fashioned human boxing has been totally replaced by a robot boxing league, and to be fair, ten foot tall robots pummeling each other does look reasonably fun. A new featurette for the family-ready science fiction underdog story shows off plenty of new footage and includes interviews with star Hugh Jackman and director Shawn Levy. Snippets of Jackman and Levy talking are all well and good, but y'all know you're here to see combatants rocking and socking with aplomb.
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In this fabulous modern, robot slaves do some of what used to be humanity's best jobs, including auto manufacturing, interstellar exploring, and bomb-dropping, but these robots have not yet conquered the game of kings. In the future of Real Steel, traditional human boxing has been replaced by Rock 'Em Sock 'Em-style robot fisticuffs. Most everybody seems happy about that, with exception of a former championship-level pugilist played by Hugh Jackman, who must now scrape by as the manager of mechanical fighters. A Japanese trailer for Real Steel features no shortage of new boxing footage, some heartwarming father-son bonding, and some really appropriate Japanese subtitles and voiceover.
Today was the first weekday in a spell that did not include a new character poster for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. It's not wand-waving from Warner Bros, but DreamWorks is making up for it a bit. The studio released a new international one sheet for Real Steel, a family friendly event film set in a future where boxing has been replaced by one-on-one robotic combat. The last teaser poster featured only a robo-hand on the the robo-ropes, but this new poster includes a full pugi-bot (albeit from behind), as well as the silhouettes of Hugh Jackman and Dakota Goyo. Take a peek.
This October's Real Steel has a bona-fide movie star in Hugh Jackman, but the film's teaser poster contains neither Jackman's Australian hide, nor his equally Australian hair. Instead, it visually sets up the film's central mashup conceit: boxing, but with giant robots. Real Steel is set in a future where the sport of kings is no longer fought by flesh and blood competitors, but by bipedal boxing-bots. This poster, which debuted over at Comingsoon, conveys that with a simple sci-fi twist on a familiar image.
How do you insert some novelty and freshness into the story of a pugilist slugging his way from the boxcars all the way to the championship? One word: robots. In Real Steal, Hugh Jackman is a former boxer struggling to get by in a new industry of professional robot-boxing. While connecting with the 11 year-old son he never knew he had (Dakota Goyo), the down-on-his-luck manager refurbishes a beat-up old bot that might just have the robo-heart to take it all the way. Check out the new theatrical trailer and all the robot beatdowns therein.