Ker-chung! The first of many resounding metallic thuds rings out as striding onto the screen looking vulnerable, wistful, heroic and tough as a box of rocks all at once comes Hugh Jackman.
Spielbergian influence?: Big Steve is the film’s executive producer – and he’s been doing vulnerable, wistful, and tough heroes since Indiana Jones and beyond.
Call my name
“Hey hey hey!” an announcer booms in front of a cheering crowd. “Charlie Kenton is in the house!”
“The one and only” replies a twinkling Jackman who, realistically, you definitely would. Yes, even you. Mr Kenton, then – but what does he do?
Spielbergian influence?: Currently the growling engine noises and big shouty intro have more in common with The Fast And The Furious than the most successful director of all time. But hang on a minute...
“Times have changed” says Kenton in a gruff voiceover as the scene switches to an empty, sepia shot of a boxing gym gathering dust.
Whachu-whoochu! Daft air noises fizz about as we get several fast cuts to old fight photos of a very trim-looking Jackman socking a man about the face.
Spielbergian influence?: More like Martin Scorsese – the black and white photography with strong backlights and far-flung blood and spit is totally Raging Bull.
“Fighting has changed” the voiceover continues, as another whooshing noise brings us to an exterior night shot of some kind of venue.
Crowds line up against the wall, underneath huge posters featuring a massive robot. Bloody hell – we’d be queuing up too. “Robot fights” the posters say. “To the DEATH”. Had no idea robots could die but still YEAH!
Spielbergian influence?: Robots and the near future? Spielberg’s work is full of them. Though we’re guessing this is less like A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, and more like the Spielberg-produced Transformers.
A fighter by his trade
Ah! Kenton’s back, another set of flashy jump cuts showing him shadow-boxing from ringside, and it’s now totally obvious that he’s a pugilist.
So, wait, is he going to fight a robot? Is that how fighting’s changed? Because if so, that’s barbaric and horrible. And we’d also like to lay odds on the robot.
Spielbergian influence?: Not so much. The baying crowds and futuristic bloodsports put us more in mind of the grizzly Norman Jewison classic Rollerball, starring a feisty, wiry James Caan.
Metal on metal
“Our main event tonight features PAIN!” shouts the announcer amid more crowd noise, which is a bit like a Sky’s Martin Tyler announcing “Tonight’s match features a football” if you think about it.
But whatever, because more crashing cuts bring us outside what looks like the Cobo Arena in Detroit where even bigger posters of robots – one with two heads – greet arriving crowds.
Spielbergian influence?: The scale of the trailer’s crowd scenes hints at Spielberg’s War Of The Worlds, and the car-heavy Transformers was also filmed in the motor city of Detroit.
It’s gaining momentum now – more shots of huge crowds, leaping and cheering, finally closing in to an overhead shot of a JumboTron screen and a ring underneath.
And – phew – it’s not Jackman the robots are grinding into a fine pink paste, but each other. Robot-on-robot action. Like that Bjork video crossed with Rock‘em Sock‘em.
Spielbergian influence?: At this stage all we can think of Robot Wars. And Philipa Forrester. Good times.
Biff! After the excitement of hot bot-action we see Kenton slip on a hoodie and go out for a midnight stroll, only to be bashed about in the dark by some ne’er do wells.
Maybe the whole world cup business has soured us, but the likelihood seems to be that even robo-boxing isn’t free from corruption, and Kenton’s being given a proper shoeing as a reminder to be good. Or bad.
Spielbergian influence?: A fighter being leant on to drop a fight is a motif that stretches way back, but was done most memorably by Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction, with Bruce Willis’s unrepentant Butch.
Right – Kenton’s not having any more of that , thank you very much. Cut to him opening a pair of big metal doors and…
Bloody hell he’s got his own massive robot. He grabs a big controller. The eyes light up. It’s obviously time to kick some ass.
Spielbergian influence?: Actually, it’s more like Rocky with mega-fisted androids. Or more probably like Rocky II – the nearly-man given a second shot at the title. This time with a robot.
We cut to a shiny fighting bot leaping through the air in a big arena with a roar that’s part lion, part 600 BHP engine.
This one looks newer than the robot just hauled out of storage. Our guess is it’s taken from a little further down Kenton’s road to the big time. Or it’s about to smash his knackered bot to pieces.
Spielbergian influence?: A huge one – our first full-body look at Real Steel’s robot pugilists reveals just how much they have in common with the Transformers.
The lost boy
A flash of cameras and Kenton’s clearly courting the big time, pushing his way through a bank of waiting photographers.
The real significance of this bit, though, isn’t with the snappers at all, but with who’s standing by our hero. Look closely and you’ll see Kenton’s son, who plays a big part in the story but barely features in this big metal-fisted first trailer.
Spielbergian influence?: The father-son theme is Spielberg’s bread and butter in everything from Third Encounters, through the The Last Crusade and right up to War Of The Worlds, where Tom Cruise plays a similarly buff, battered dad.
The money shot
“This is what it’s all about!” yells Kenton down a chunky earpiece telephone as we cut to him ringside. “Let’s make some money!”
Then we get a few quick cuts of more battle machines, including this nasty looking piece of hardware with a punky Mohawk brush top.
Spielbergian influence?: Actually, having pinpointed Transformers, the scruffier stylings here have more than little 2000 AD to them …
In among the snippets of fights is this dusty scrap which, judging by the hats, the Bud sign and the dead bull on the wall, is set in some wooden-floored hick bar.
And, there in the background, controlling his bucket of punchy bolts with the boy alongside, is Kenton. There definitely seems to be a rags to big-ring riches story happening here.
Spielbergian influence?: Not this time – the spit-and-sawdust feel of the place is actually more reminiscent of Hugh Jackman’s entrance as Wolverine in Bryan Singer’s first X-Men movie.
Get in shape
No boxing film is complete without a montage, and by the looks of things Kenton is definitely getting one too.
Post-fight mash-up, the trailer cuts away to a quick look at our hero limbering up with a mirror-image bot copying his every move. Presumably he’s got to be careful not to step in too close or he could very easily swipe his own face clean off.
Spielbergian influence?: No, this is straight down the line Rocky – mounting the stairs, running through the park, climbing a hill in the snow and punching a big log. All that stuff. With a robot.
After more footage of giant limbs swinging for big metal faces we pitch up with Kenton and a mystery lady in some kind of workshop.
Except – this isn’t a workshop, it’s the abandoned gym we saw earlier. Ooh! Symbolic. It also confirms that Kenton fights with more than one bot. And that we’d never buy a car from him.
Spielbergian influence?: Yes – it’s Transformers again. The gender role-reversal of hot lady mechanic was done first – and in unforgettably tight denim shorts – by Megan Fox.
We move quickly on from the two trashed tin-cans on the floor to a fight that shows the damage being caused, with bad brush-haired bot tearing the arm off Kenton’s fighter.
And there’s the boy again – clearly crucial to everything that’s going on but deemed not as engaging as loud noises and robots eating fist pie for this trailer. And you know what? He probably isn’t.
Spielbergian influence?: Yes, in the wry look on Jackman’s face, which in spite of the thunderous tone of the trailer shows a humour and warmth that Spielberg typically brings to all his family stories.
Whos that girl?
Right – now we’re going at a thousand miles an hour with more crunching metal noises than you thought it was even possible to fit into a trailer. But you were wrong .
And flashing up for a second with no background or character info is Evangeline Lilly, who we’d guess is probably the lady in the workshop from earlier, and is helping Kenton to fight with big robots in some way.
Spielbergian influence?: In as much as if we were making a film about the life of Raiders Of The Lost Ark actress Karen Allen, Lilly would play the lead – she has the same striking brunette looks and underlying strength as Spielberg’s star.
“Bring it!” shouts an excited-looking Kenton, clearly in the middle of a very important scrap, as the trailer nears its conclusion.
Presumably he’s talking to the other robot, or the man controlling the robot. Or maybe, just maybe, at life itself.
Spielbergian influence?: We’re convinced by this point that Jackman makes for an excellent Spielberg hero – with the vulnerability and the toughness and all – and this is the moment where the director’s normally rather quiet leading man goes crowd-stirringly berserk.
Oi, you! Outside
One last tasty snippet before the trailer closes its doors with a final big ‘schtum!’ metal noise is this shot of a bot fight taking place outside.
It looks like a car park, and that looks like Kenton’s bot doing the big-fisted winning. But more importantly it suggests the possibility of awesome, outside-the-ring robot fight sequences. Bosh.
Spielbergian influence?: It was the technology of Jurassic Park escaping its designated boundaries that tipped the film into amazing. But we also keep thinking about the end of Karate Kid/beginning of Karate Kid II, with Mr Miyagi dealing swiftly with a sore loser in a car park.