Jeff Smith 6 p.m., Oct. 8
Short Takes: Real Steel
Was the working title Rocky Sock 'em Robots? An off-the-ropes, beer-guzzling promoter and his estranged young son bond through violent robot boxing matches in this Spielberg-backed futuristic fluff. Motion capture reaches new levels of sophistication, but when it comes to narrative refinement, Real Steel remains a product of cinema's dark ages. The initial effects are enough to hold your attention, but all bets are off when the tin can man is taught a few dance steps and the unavoidable third-act pathos kick in. I didn't mind it when Alex Karras sandbagged a horse in Blazing Saddles, but in a film ostensibly geared for kids, do we really need to see a robot slug away at a brahma bull? Shawn Levy (Just Married, the remake of The Pink Panther, and Night at the Museum I & II) directed. With: Hugh Jackman, the insufferable Dakota Goyo, and Evangeline Lilly.
Reader Rating: One Star MPAA Rating: PG-13 Length: 127