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REAL STEEL. Shawn Levy, dir., prod. (one of a dozen producers of various sorts). Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, exec. producers (with three others). John Gatins, script. Dan Gilroy and Jeremy Leven, story [working with a premise from Richard Matheson's "Steel" (and what Erlich will call the "RoboJox" motif in SF generally)]. Tom Meyer, prod. design. John Rosengrant, animatronic supervisor: Legacy Effects. USA: Touchstone and Dreamworks present, 21 Laps Entertainment et al. (prod.) / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures US and most other countries (dist), 2011. See IMDb for complexities of production. [1]

See for very near future in which quite large, but not gigantic, robots compete in boxing matches with few prohibitions. The robots are operated by humans who are ringside, in matches classy enough to have rings. The center of the film is a sentimental human story of re-established relationships (esp. father/son); the robots are of interest for the film's politics. In the boxing agones, the protagonist is "Atom," and "he" may have some slight degree of consciousness and explicitly represents the underclass as well as the underdog. (Erlich heard the name initially as "Adam" [Hebrew 'man'], and the pun might be there [on the other hand, Erlich doesn't hear well.) The film deals less explicitly with the politics of nationalism and reflects American nervousness with being overtaken by Japanese, Russian, and probably other economies and cultures. The Boy-and-His-Robot relationship is somewhat developed between Atom and the two male human protagonists; cf. and contrast adolescent John Connor with the Schwarzeneger Terminator in TERMINATOR 2 (1991). CAUTION: The film may be a wee bit gratuitously xenophobic and, for all its explicit populism, is shameless in product placement.

5. DRAMA, RDE, 07/IX/11