Holy cow, I'm looking forward to a Shawn Levy film.

Here's where I prove what I say about giving every movie a fresh chance.  I've had fairly strongly negative reactions to a number of the films that Levy has directed so far. The "Night At The Museum" films, the "Pink Panther" remake, "Cheaper By The Dozen," or "Just Married".... they just don't work for me.  I've heard he's great to work with, and studios obviously love him, but I haven't clicked with anything he's made, and I didn't make it to "Date Night" in the theater.

This week, he's rolling film in "Real Steel," his new movie, starring Hugh Jackman and Dakota Goyo as a father and son who discover a robot in a junkyard who they restore in hopes of making him a champion in a robot boxing league in the future.  And USA Today scored the exclusive this morning with an image and a story that has immediately turned this into a movie that I want to see.

This is an important film for Dreamworks and Disney and their newly-forged collaboration.  They'll be looking to start branding the sort of films people can expect from the partnership, and this sounds like it's aimed at family audiences in the broadest sense of the term.

Here's the official synopsis:

A gritty, white-knuckle, action ride set in the near-future, where the sport of boxing has gone hi-tech, “Real Steel” stars Hugh Jackman as Charlie Kenton, a washed-up fighter who lost his chance at a title when 2000-pound, 8-foot-tall steel robots took over the ring. Now nothing but a small-time promoter, Charlie earns just enough money piecing together low-end bots from scrap metal to get from one underground boxing venue to the next. When Charlie hits rock bottom, he reluctantly teams up with his estranged son Max (Dakota Goyo) to build and train a championship contender. As the stakes in the brutal, no-holds-barred arena are raised, Charlie and Max, against all odds, get one last shot at a comeback.

When I read the first description of this, I assumed this meant a lot of CGI and greenscreen, but it sounds like we can expect something that is more dependent on physical effects than that.  In this first photo today, what you're looking at is something that was actually shot on-set with Hugh Jackman, and I just love the mood of this image and the design of the robot:

 

 I like Hugh Jackman a lot, and I'm still waiting to see him really anchor a monster hit movie that isn't related to the X-Men.  This one's got potential, based on all of this new stuff we're seeing from it.  I know my own sons will pretty much loser their minds when they realize it's a movie about robots beating each other up, and a story like this could be really emotionally rich for the father-son stuff.  It's based on a Richard Matheson short story, and it's being produced by a small army that includes Don Murphy, Susan Montford, Levy, Robert Zemeckis, Rick Benettar, Jack Rapke, and Steve Starkey.  I'm really curious to see Evangeline Lilly in this, since we haven't seen her do much besides "Lost."  I have faith that she can survive a monster hit TV show, and this will be a nice test of that.

Here's another image, this one of Shawn Levy discussing a scene with Hugh Jackman:

 

 

I'm sure it'll be a while before we see any footage for this one if they're just starting production, but then again, if they're doing a lot of this practical, maybe they could have a Comic-Con presentation together.  I'm curious to see the performance capture fights, especially since learning that Sugar Ray Leonard is a consultant on the fights.  But I'm just as excited to see a movie with tons of real-size physical robot builds, and I hope it pays off in something as cool as the premise promises.

"Real Steel" will be in theaters November 18, 2011.

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