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DVD releases

‘Real Steel’ is pretty likable

DreamWorks II Distribution Co.

A scene from “Real Steel.”

For a movie that you could easily imagine having cynical roots - some Hollywood type wondering, “How can I squeeze a feature out of Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots?’’ - “Real Steel’’ (2011) turns out to be pretty likable. Hugh Jackman ably leans on “The Champ’’ to play a scrappy, faded fighter in need of redemption - in this case, by means of futuristic robotic boxing - and 12-year-old Dakota Goyo is appealingly spunky as Jackman’s estranged son. What gets lost amid the gladiatorial clanking and family-targeted storytelling is that the movie’s springboard was “Steel,’’ a comparably downbeat short story by venerable genre author and screenwriter Richard Matheson. (Lee Marvin stars in the adaptation Matheson scripted for “The Twilight Zone.’’) The DVD isn’t the place to go for a Matheson primer, but no matter - you can grab enough relevant viewing elsewhere. “I Am Legend’’ (2007): Matheson’s post-apocalyptic tale has been tackled not only by Will Smith, but by Charlton Heston (“The Omega Man’’) and Vincent Price (“The Last Man on Earth’’), too. “The Box’’ (2009): Richard Kelly (“Donnie Darko’’) put a signature trippy sci-fi spin on Matheson’s “Button, Button’’ about a couple’s flirtation with a morally torturous windfall. “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet’’ (1963): William Shatner’s classic “Twilight Zone’’ run-in with a high-flying gremlin is the best known of Matheson’s 14 episodes. “Duel’’ (1971): Steven Spielberg made his feature-length directing debut with this tense, Matheson-scripted TV movie. (“Real Steel,’’ DreamWorks $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99)


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