One of the more intriguing titles arriving this fall is sci-fi flick/drama Real Steel with Hugh Jackman. While the Real Steel teaser trailer focused primarily on the futuristic sport at the heart of the film – namely, giant robot boxing – director Shawn Levy describes it as being more a human-centered drama than just Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots: The Movie.
DreamWorks has held several internal screenings of Real Steel and the response so far has reportedly been overwhelmingly positive – enough so for the studio to have already initiated development of a sequel.
Deadline is reporting that DreamWorks has comissioned Real Steel scriber John Gatins to go ahead and begin work on the followup. It’s rare for a sequel like this to be given a preliminary greenlight so far ahead of the first film’s theatrical release, but the move is not unprecedent. Warner Bros. did the same thing after early screenings of The Hangover were a hit; Disney even officially began work on TRON 3 some seven months before the release of TRON: Legacy.
Real Steel is based on a short story by Richard Matheson (author of I Am Legend) and tells the tale of washed-up human boxer Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman), a man who lost his shot at the title when 2,000-pound metal men took over the boxing ring. Charlie reconnects with his young son Max (Dakota Goyo) as the two successfully assemble their own steel warrior bot – and are given another shot at achieving glory in the ring.
While it may read like Rocky-meets-Transformers on paper, Real Steel looks to have borrowed elements from both those franchises – but come up with something that’s actually quite unique. Unlike Michael Bay’s robots in disguise, the Real Steel bots are brought to life via a combination of animatronics and CGI. As a result, they not only look different in action, but seem all the more convincing and realistic (at least as realistic as two-ton metal beings can look on film).
It’s the human element that could really distinguish Real Steel from other action-packed, F/X-driven blockbusters. Studios often try and sell their big-budget popcorn flicks as being more “substantial” than the average mindless tentpole pic, and not just about eye candy or explosions (remember all that talk about how much “heart” TRON: Legacy would have?). Real Steel may end up being a load of brainless drivel, but from what I’ve read and seen so far it seems like there really is more to the film than that.
Levy and Jackman certainly seemed to have developed a nice working relationship, seeing as that they’re already set to reunite on a new action-adventure pic. If Real Steel proves itself to be a hit at the box office, there’s a good chance the two could work together for a third time in the future. Who knows, maybe they could become the next big actor-director duo – crazier things are bound to happen.
Real Steel will duke it out in regular and IMAX theaters on October 7th, 2011.