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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Real Steel

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service


Hugh Jackman and Dakota Goyo, center, star in a scene from the movie "Real Steel."
The results of recycling never looked so good—or so menacing—as they do in "Real Steel" (Disney), an action-packed drama about robots who box and the dysfunctional humans who manipulate and fix them.

Director Shawn Levy ("Date Night," "Night at the Museum") weaves the wizardry of computer-generated imagery with the sentimentality of such pugilistic classics as "The Champ" and "Rocky" while charting the newfound relationship between an estranged father and son. This duo eventually learns—between brutal matches—that blood is thicker than hydraulic fluid.

In the not-too-distant future, 8-foot-tall, 2,000-pound robots have replaced human beings in the ring. The World Robot Boxing League offers all the razzle-dazzle of professional wrestling as 'bots beat each others' motherboards out, maneuvered by people using video-gamelike controls.

One such is Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman), a washed-up fighter who makes the rounds of country fairs with his robot, grubbing for prize money. Pining for him back at the gymnasium-cum-repair shop is Bailey (Evangeline Lilly)—a gal who's pretty handy, we learn, with a soldering iron.

Charlie's world is turned upside down with the arrival of Max (Dakota Goyo), his 11-year-old son from a one-night stand. Mom has died, and her sister Debra (Hope Davis) wants custody. Adrift, amoral and broke, Charlie agrees to "sell" his son for $50,000. The catch? He needs to watch Max for the summer while Debra goes on vacation.

Thus begins a very odd road movie. While sizing up his dad, Max is entranced by the robots and the fighting scene. Soon he has his own mechanical warrior, discovered while scrounging the recycling dump for spare parts.

"Atom," as he's called, may be an old-model machine but he's no slouch. He's original, intuitive, a mimic and rather a good dancer. Atom and Max bond in the spirit of "I Robot" and the "Transformers" movies. Soon, with Charlie's training, Atom begins winning against-the-odds victories.

It all points, rather predictably, to the underdog getting his chance at the world title in a match against "Zeus," the Apollo Creed of 'bots. Can David beat Goliath? Will a coldhearted father warm to his hyperactive son, accept his responsibilities, and make a family?

(Despite the elements listed below, "Real Steel" is probably acceptable for older adolescents.)

The film contains cartoonish action violence, references to an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, a bit of crude language and some mild oaths. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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