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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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Nativity of St. John the Baptist: Jesus called John the greatest of all those who had preceded him: “I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John....” But John would have agreed completely with what Jesus added: “[Y]et the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7:28). 
<p>John spent his time in the desert, an ascetic. He began to announce the coming of the Kingdom, and to call everyone to a fundamental reformation of life. </p><p>His purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus. His Baptism, he said, was for repentance. But One would come who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. John is not worthy even to carry his sandals. His attitude toward Jesus was: “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30). </p><p>John was humbled to find among the crowd of sinners who came to be baptized the one whom he already knew to be the Messiah. “I need to be baptized by you” (Matthew 3:14b). But Jesus insisted, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15b). Jesus, true and humble human as well as eternal God, was eager to do what was required of any good Jew. John thus publicly entered the community of those awaiting the Messiah. But making himself part of that community, he made it truly messianic. </p><p>The greatness of John, his pivotal place in the history of salvation, is seen in the great emphasis Luke gives to the announcement of his birth and the event itself—both made prominently parallel to the same occurrences in the life of Jesus. John attracted countless people (“all Judea”) to the banks of the Jordan, and it occurred to some people that he might be the Messiah. But he constantly deferred to Jesus, even to sending away some of his followers to become the first disciples of Jesus. </p><p>Perhaps John’s idea of the coming of the Kingdom of God was not being perfectly fulfilled in the public ministry of Jesus. For whatever reason, he sent his disciples (when he was in prison) to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah. Jesus’ answer showed that the Messiah was to be a figure like that of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah (chapters 49 through 53). John himself would share in the pattern of messianic suffering, losing his life to the revenge of Herodias.</p> American Catholic Blog Let us pray to Our Lady, that she may protect us. In times of spiritual upset, the safest place is within the folds of her garments.

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