Robots boxing clever

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 October, 2011, 12:00am


You've heard of boxing. You've probably heard of robot wars. The next logical step in the evolution is surely bare-knuckle robot-boxing!

Real Steel takes these two elements and transports them into the future, to a time when boxing between men no longer has the same appeal as it does now. In this future, man-made, super-tall robots slug it out in the ring.

Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman), once a world-class boxer, is now a has-been. He spends his time promoting robot fights at small venues, and building robots from scrap metal to enter in prizefights.

Just as Charlie's life reaches an all-time low, he reluctantly pairs up with his son, Max (Dakota Goyo). They build a robot and train it to become the ultimate fighting machine. This is Charlie's last chance to save his relationship with his son - and make a comeback in the world of competitive sports.

'The main characters - a father, his son and a machine - are each abandoned beings,' director Shawn Levy says. 'All three of them have been cast aside and forgotten. The substance of the story is about how this trinity has a chance of returning to grace.'

Levy's love of boxing began as a boy, and led to an admiration for boxing films such as Raging Bull and the Rocky series. 'Real Steel is absolutely a homage to those boxing movies that I watched with my brothers 50 times.'

A sophisticated team of designers created the robots for the film. Staff at Legacy Effects were free to do as they saw fit and created a multitude of robots, each with distinct personalities and physical attributes. The robots are extremely high-tech, yet still believable. 'I want the audience to be conscious of the fact that, although the film has a science fiction premise,' says Levy, 'these are not science-fiction robots. The robots are things that we'd like to believe humans could have built.'

Real Steel uses motion capture rather than computer animation. Real boxers wore special suits and their movements were recorded and digitally fed it into a 'real-world' environment. 'It's taking technology literally invented on Avatar, but doing something a little different with it,' Levy says. 'Avatar took motion-captured performances and put them in a virtual world. We're taking motion-captured performances and plugging them back into the real world.'

Real Steel opens on Thursday