Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots meet Rocky in director Shawn Levy’s near-future sci-fi action movie. Based on Richard Matheson’s 1956 short story “Steel” (though it’s hard not to think of the perennial toy favorite as the actual source), Real Steel stars Hugh Jackman as a down-on-his-luck former “human boxer” seeking personal redemption (and cash) via the newer sport of remote-controlled robot boxing, all with the 11-year-old son he barely knows in tow. The real stars here, however, are those brilliant ’bots, carefully designed and brought to life via a slick combination of animatronics and CGI. Executive producer Steven Spielberg makes sure the proceedings qualify as family fare, right down to the syrupy music and earnest-to-a-fault tone. But the movie succeeds famously as light, well-crafted entertainment. Both picture and sound are impeccable on Blu-ray; I’m not sure I’ve seen better detail on my home screen. The 7.1 soundtrack is simply awe-inspiring, with a sound field that positively engulfs the viewer, especially in the arena ’bot-boxing sequences. An iPad- or laptop-based Second Screen function syncs with the movie to provide additional extras while the Blu-ray is running on your big screen. A featurette about the contributions of consultant Sugar Ray Leonard explains why boxing moves executed by underdog ’bot protagonist Atom seem familiar: They came straight from the hands of a master.
Video: 2.35:1. Audio: DTS- HD Master Audio 7.1. Extras: “Real Steel Second Screen: Ringside with Director Shawn Levy”; “Countdown to the Fight — The Charlie Kenton Story,” “Making of Metal Valley,” “Building the Bots,” and “Sugar Ray Leonard: Cornerman’s Champ” featurettes; deleted and extended scenes; bloopers; DVD with audio commentary. Studio: Touchstone/Disney.