Granted, it didn’t have a lot going for it at the time. That cinematic Antichrist himself, Shawn Date Night at the Museum for the Pink Panther Levy was set to direct, and while pleasant to look at, Hugh Jackman appeared to be spinning his superstar wheels in yet another grinding action effort. Then the teaser trailer arrived, and suddenly, Real Steel looked like it might actually be pretty good. The premise - a future world where robots fought to the mechanical death for the amusement of a jaded population - had promise (it was based on a short story by genre ace Richard Matheson and was actually made into a memorable episode of the old Twilight Zone) and with today’s ever polished CG, the F/X should/would blow us away. Without more of the plot, Real Steel felt like Stuart Gordon’s underappreciated Robot Jox, except with a splash of improved eye candy.
Then the latest preview hit the Web yesterday, and all genre goodwill just…died. To see what Levy had done to the idea, to see how the entire movie switched gears from a action packed punch-out to a warmed over Kazam was crushing. Who knew that this high tech tentpole for the Fall of 2011 was an interactive video game adaptation of The Champ, complete with a washed up pugilist (Jackman) looking for redemption, an equally out to pasture automaton that everyone pegs as an underdog, and a precious whiny weepy little brat (Dakota Boyo) making sure that everything that happens is a directly result of his desire to have the entire future shock world revolve around his pug nosed snottiness. Oh course, he’s also the son of a distant and disaffected Jackman.