Real Steel: Can We Care About Robots?
Here's a new trailer for Real Steel, the Hugh Jackman family action-adventurer about robot fights. Yes, robot fights! Nothing silly about that at all. Just some robots fighting for fun and profit (our profit), like robots are wont to do.
Here's my question, though, from a cinema-studies perspective. Where are the stakes when it's a robot? Like, oh no, the robot is dead. Only... we can fix the robot. So. No drama. These aren't Transformers-esque living creatures that look like robots and who are defending the fate of the human world. (And the Transformers robots are pretty hard to care about as is.) No, they're just dingy machines fighting dingy fights in dingy places. Just regular blue collar robots, doing their robot fighting. Who the heck cares? Will people scream "Noooo!!!" when their favorite robot is defeated in the ring? I hope not! I hope people will not be doing that. Because, hypothetical people, that's not a living creature, that's just a robot. That's all. Not even a robot with a personality like Haley Joel Osment or C-3PO. (Though, let's be honest, the death of C-3PO would not be that bad of a thing. Imagine all the pained yowling and "Oh dear!"s.)
There are no stakes! I mean, I'm sure that Hugh Jackman stands to lose money and maybe get hurt if his robot doesn't beat the other robot, but that's about it. I don't know. The whole conceit seems pretty lifeless and synthetic. Just like a robot!