When I went to see Dylan Dog: Dead of Night a while ago, I saw a trailer for Priest. Priest was a very stupid movie… unfortunately, that wasn’t the only stupid trailer I saw that day. I also saw the trailer for Real Steel.
You try to tell me you watched that trailer and didn’t think, “This is a gritty Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots movie adaptation, isn’t it?” We’re going to have to suffer through a Battleship movie and an Asteroids movie – we’re at the point where Hollywood could rape practically any part of our childhood for profit and it wouldn’t surprise me. I’ll still be full of rage, but surprised? Not so much. I was so sure that this would be a legitimate Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots adaptation that I whispered it to the boyfriend as soon as I saw the first robot. I was shocked when I saw it was actually titled Real Steel, which is a truly stupid name for this movie. Is there fake steel in this movie to compare to the real steel?
Now, right after I got out of the theaters, I tweeted about this trailer. Almost immediately after, I got this very passive aggressive reply from someone who obviously thought this looked like the greatest movie ever. He “informed” me that this was based on a book, so how dare I mock it. I actually looked it up; it was actually a short story called “Steel” by Richard Metheson (side note: Metheson is also the writer of What Dreams May Come and I am Legend, two books whose movies are also mangled representations of the original stories). Real Steel might be based on an original story, but I’d wager a guess that he didn’t describe the robots as stupidly as the filmmakers designed the ones in the movie.
This brings up something important, though – they adapted the script from a short story. This bodes poorly for the film. Any time you take something short and adapt it into a full-length movie, you run even more of a risk of losing all the great parts of the original, including its brevity. Now, I haven’t gotten my hands on the short story. I tried looking it up, but I couldn’t find the synopsis online. If you do have/know it, please let me know. I really want to know if Metheson’s story is about a chiseled jawed down-and-out boxer bonding with his son through “training” a giant, goofy boxing robot through a series of cliched Rocky montages. Because I’m going to take a huge leap and guess that the original story isn’t nearly as cliched as this movie is looking to be. It’s like every boxing/racehorse movie ever. It even has the little kid with the twinkle in his/her eye heavily invested in a violent sport centered around gambling and the horse – I mean robot – that no one believes in, but who has “heart” and “spirit.”
The only good thing about this it distracts Hugh Jackman from making another crappy Wolverine spinoff. Oh wait, that’s coming out 2012. I’m hoping it’ll be scheduled for late 2012 so if the Aztecs are right, I can at least die knowing the world didn’t have to endure another Wolverine movie.
Yeah, there's an episode of the Twilight Zone that Matheson wrote, supposed to be pretty decent. You're spot on, there is none of the warm, father/son, small town America, goofy robot twaddle.
It's sit in the grim future (1970s – they got that right) where human boxing is outlawed and humanoid robots are controlled by human managers.
Lee Marvin plays the down-on-his-luck manager with an outdated, broken down robot boxer. He gets an opportunity when another robot pulls out of a fight, and promises his fighter will go the distance.
When an arm falls off in training, and he can't afford a replacement, he takes the robots place, in a disguise (the robots are pretty life-like).
He faces the latest model and damn-near gets killed in the ring.
The moral of the story is that machines are the future, and human spirit is unquenchable.
Matheson is known for his provocative and promising ideas but an unsubtle and unsophisticated writing style. Perfect Hollywood fodder. I'm sure Levy has done his best to mangle anything worthwhile about it.