When the movie Real Steel with Hugh Jackman was announced and the first trailers rolled in, the almost unanimous comment from the internet was, “Isn’t this just Rockem-Sockem Robots the Movie?” This was a rather appropriate reaction, as the original trailer that surfaced sure did look like an action-oriented slug fest.
Of course, after the almost universal ridicule of the concept, the studio went back and modified the trailer to make it seem like it’s a heartwarming family tale about a Dad, his son, and their adorable robot.
How charming. Well, as the release is almost upon us the director has spilled the beans and stated that the movie is actually based on the Twilight Zone episode “Steel”, starring Lee Marvin as a grizzled and tough boxing trainer working with an almost completely broken down boxing robot (it should be noted that everything Lee Marvin did was grizzled and tough; he was probably angry and world-weary when he was in pre-school).
Richard Crouse of the Winnipeg Metro News has an article on other movies that have been inspired by Twilight Zone. I can see the Stephen King movie “Christine” though the campy horror classic “Child’s Play” is a bit of a stretch. http://www.metronews.ca/winnipeg/scene/article/987959–before-twilight-there-was-the-twilight-zone
Both NYMag.com and Wired.com have two separate articles with that imagine Hollywood remakes of other classic Twilight Zone episodes. Congrats to the Wired.com for evidently winning the contest between the two sites; not only does their article have 9 movies as opposed to NYMag.com’s 5 but they also posted 3 hours earlier.
All in all, I find the notion that Real Steel is in anyway comparable to Richard Matheson’s Twilight Zone script to be utter nonsense. While the most basic of premises is the same, that robot replace humans in our brutal combat sport, is the same and the titles are certainly the similar, Real Steel does not attempt to approach the emotion and point of the episode. Lee Marvin and his robot are essentially the same person; past their primes, broken down and obsolete. They both are trying to hang around past their due dates, hoping to get one last pay day. It makes the symbolism highly appropriate when Lee enters the body of his robot to do one last fight. It’s bittersweet, seeing a man fight so hard for something that we know is doomed for failure. And that’s why it’s so touching.
Real Steel is about trying to get as much people to watch a movie about robots during a traditionally slow month for movies.
So do yourself a favor and check out the episode “Steel” this weekend. Your brain will appreciate it