Monday, 5 October 2015

Movie Review - Real Steel



Two weeks ago I discovered pure awesomeness in the form of Battle Bots. I spent my whole evening watching every episode of the 2015 season. Seeing my excitement, my friend suggested that I watch this movie called Real Steel which was released in 2011.

The movie is set in a future where human boxing is outlawed (Good!). Instead people watch insanely cool robots go all out against each other for entertainment (Fantastic!). A retired human boxer (Charlie Kenton)  who is trying to make it big in the robot boxing (and failing miserably at it) has to spend two months looking after his son (who he hasn't seen in years). Though they are initially cold to each other, the duo eventually learn to work together with a little scrapyard bot called Atom and make it to the Real Steel Tournament, repairing their relationship along the way. The movie is surprisingly heart warming despite the fact that it is about robots fighting violently to their deaths while people cheer (Or maybe it's heartwarming because of that :D ).

Of course, what I liked most about the movie was were the robots! Being a robotics enthusiast and having built quite a few robots myself, it's really nice to see more realistic robots being depicted in film. Far too many movies get robots wrong. Most of them vastly over estimate their abilities or completely ignore the laws of physics. I liked the fact that the robot fighters in the movie were controlled via joysticks and had the sort of jerky, non-human movements that characterize robots. I get the feeling that the movie was aiming for realism - which is a goal that I really appreciate, especially when the movie is about a subject like robotics which I'm really passionate about.

The fight scenes between the robots were brilliantly choreographed and genuinely exciting. The urge to cheer on little Atom during the final fight was completely overwhelming. 

The movie also gave me a lot to think about. It set my mind a-buzz with ideas about how to implement a robot boxing tournament like that in real life. It also got me thinking about how I would go about designing robots like that. The problem is harder than most people think. This amusing compilation of robots attempting the DARPA Challenge gives you a good idea of how good our robots are in real life. The movie was a satisfying blend of science fiction, robots and very human, emotional moments. Definitely a worthwhile watch. 
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