6 - 1
Like regular boxing, a robot can win on points, via a technical knock-out, or a true KO. The only way they appear capable of the latter is to cause their opponent to suffer a kind of major computer or power source malfunction. They can beat each other senseless, and yet survive, just to have their potential victory vanquished via a software bug or hard drive crash. And then there is the various baffling bells and whistles they can employ. In the end, cricket makes more sense.
It’s good to know that, several decades from now, there will still be deadbeat dads. It’s also refreshing to see well to do adoptive parents bartering for a boy child like rug merchants in Marrakesh. Charlie needs money, and Max’s aunt apparently needs a kid to hug - that is, until he turns unctuous and rebellious. The price for the privilege? $100,000 - an in future money, that must be like 75 smackers. And no one seems phased by this concept. No one.
Charlie’s son Max has a lot of flaws - he’s uber-precocious, doesn’t respond to half-assed parenting all that well, and when given the chance, will grab the microphone in the middle of a major robot boxing match and challenge the reigning champion and its rich Eurotrash owner with juvenile taunts. But his biggest personal defect? The boy DOES NOT LIKE CHEESEBURGERS! Again, a grade school aged male says, point blank, that he doesn’t like CHEESEBURGERS! Is there no god in the future as well???
Again, Charlie travels a lot in this movie. Apparently, he can’t get fights near the gym where his harried gal pal lives, and doesn’t believe in short jaunts to neighboring areas. Instead, he must make his way across vast swaths of America in what appears to be a converted food truck…and there’s no question that gas and other petroleum byproducts are still important. While we do see a set of solar panels, we eventually learn they are used to keep Max’s robot Atom charged up and ready. Good news for all of you who enjoy global warming and turmoil in the Middle East.
When we first meet our fallen idol, he’s not sitting in some gym bandaging his wounds or working on his comeback. No, he’s using his latest black market acquisition to entertain a local country expo - and this time, his ‘bot will be battling against a…bull? Yep, in keeping with the son of the soil simplicity of all things carnival, Charlie books his fighter against an actual animal - not a robotic steer or a hologram of same. An actual cow. Apparently, all those ASPCA commercials they show late at night on VH1 and Current have no affect on what happens in the future.
This must make an aging Sylvester Stallone even more unhappy. All throughout the narrative, our hero Atom is primed to be the next metallic Italian Stallone. He’s given the same spunky underdog set-up and walks into the ring against a behemoth monster machine predicted to knock his block off within the first five seconds. Naturally, he goes the distance and ends up…well, that would be spoiling things, wouldn’t it. Anyway, with all the possible pop culture riffs that could be concocted out of the famous Oscar winner, not a one is offered. Instead, Atom becomes a boy’s best friend fashioned out of metal and wiring. It’s The Champ with diodes.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. We need your help to keep PopMatters strong and growing. Thank you.