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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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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The Church really is my mother, too. She isn’t a vague maternal force for a generic collection of anonymous people. This Mother truly nurtures us—each one of us. And for those of us who are baptized Christians, the Church has actually given birth to us on a spiritual level.

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