Every once in a while, a movie comes along that looks so strange and unnecessary that it becomes oddly interesting. That’s exactly what we have here with director Shawn Levy's (Night At The Museum) sci-fi boxing drama Real Steel.
Based on a short story by Richard Matheson (which was previously adapted into an old Twilight Zone episode), Real Steel is set in a world where robots, not humans, take part in boxing matches for the public’s entertainments. Hugh Jackman stars as the robot’s trainer. Or maybe he’s called a programmer? Despite the strange concept, the trailer seems to hit all of the emotional beats that other boxing flicks such as Rocky and Cinderella Man have covered. You've got a down-on-his-luck fighter looking for one last shot at glory, and of course that glory comes in the form of robot pugilism.
While the trailer, which premiered over at Yahoo!, plays things perfectly straight, one can’t help but snicker at the overall look and tone of the film. Are we going feel any emotion for a robot that can’t feel pain or are we supposed to feel bad for Jackman's character, even though he’s not actually taking a beating? It’s an odd premise, for sure, and the whole movie hinges on that emotional investment. But hey, at least the robots look cool! Right?
Or maybe Real Steel is actually a thinly veiled adaptation of the popular toy, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, and not the Matheson story? Stranger things have happened. They are making a Battleship movie, after all.
One last question: Will Real Steel actually surprise us by providing an emotional attachment to a robot or will Jackman’s career continue to nosedive in every movie he’s in that doesn’t require him to wear claws? We’ll find out when Real Steel is released on November 19.