5 things we learned about robot boxing from the new Real Steel featurette

Contributed by
Dec 15, 2012

What's Real Steel all about? For the longest time, it's been referred to as the "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em" movie, but we think it has more to offer. A new featurette has been released, and it reveals lots of cool behind-the-scenes secrets. And yes, we took notes!

In the featurette, Hugh Jackman and director Shawn Levy paint a picture of an underdog/coming-of-age story. Jackman's character, Charlie, is a washed-up fighter who's trying to make ends meet when his estranged son comes to live with him. To add insult to injury, the only profitable form of boxing from which he can earn money excludes humans.

Here are five things we learned from the featurette that make the movie a lot more interesting.

1. Real boxers provided motion capture for the robots.

Are you wondering how the robots move so fancy and free? They're CGI copies of real boxers. Levy went and pulled fighters from the gym, gave them some motion-capture suits and put them to work. No actors playing around here.

2. These 'bots learned the sweet science from Sugar Ray Leonard As Hugh Jackman says in the video, if you're going to hire a fight choreographer, you might as well go for the best! Former boxing champ Sugar Ray Leonard schooled Jackman and all the robot boxers in the art of kicking butt.

3. Robot boxing is all about control—remote control

When it's time to rumble, the robots do the work while the humans pull the strings. Each fighter has someone in its corner manipulating a remote, panel or laptop device that controls its moves, and the rigs range from handheld sets to holographic HUDs.

4. Jackman's character uses special "shadow technology"

Charlie doesn't need a remote control or a stinking computer; he has shadow technology. What's that, you ask? It allows the robot to mimic or shadow the moves he wants. If Charlie throws a punch, the robot throws a punch—it's like shadow boxing if your shadow were made of steel and weighed hundreds of tons.

5. There's a boxing underworld where things get deadly

Just as in any professional sport, there's a seedy underground league that pays top dollar for what we'd call "death matches." Even though Anthony Mackie's character is supposed to be a mere boxing promoter, it looks like he has his hand in the illegal cookie jar.

What do you think? Has this featurette added some much-needed substance to the flick?

Real Steel opens in theaters everywhere Oct. 7.

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