Posted by: Kath Usitalo | April 26, 2012

FILMichigan: Real Steel

The Ingham County Courthouse in Mason: Hugh Jackman filmed here

Real Steel: 2011 PG rated action/drama starring Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo and Evangeline Lilly. Directed by Shawn Levy. Screenplay by John Gatins, story by Dan Gilroy and Jeremy Leven, from the short story by Richard Matheson.

Hugh Jackman. Making a movie in Michigan! Bring on the popcorn.

Wait. It’s a movie about 8-foot tall boxing robots set a few years in the future? One critic called it “Rocky with robots.” Not really my kind of flick.

But I finally rented Real Steel and have to admit that I got into it. It was great fun to see so many familiar settings in the Detroit area and at the courthouse in Mason, near Lansing.

Still…giant boxing robots? Thank goodness for the human element  provided by Hugh as former boxer Charlie Kenton and Max, the 11-year old son he never knew (played by Dakota Goyo) who comes into his life. The relationship between the estranged dad and kid evolves as they hit the boxing circuit with a bot named Atom.

The fire station in downtown Detroit looks good as Tallet’s Gym, where Charlie the boxer trained and Bailey (Evangeline Lilly) programs the robots. What a great building, with its creamy brick walls and arches.

The fight at the scary looking Belle Isle Zoo matches the setting—scary because of the human spectators.

Can’t help but smile at the scene with Max and Atom on the lawn of the cool looking Parkway Motel in Holly. The fight in Cobo Arena was exciting.

Trivia from IMDb: Director Shawn Levy chose to film in Michigan because he loved the Model T plant in Highland Park for the Crash Palace fight scene (the film incentive dollars from the state, which were more generous when this movie was made, probably didn’t hurt).

By the end of the movie I was cheering for Atom, Max and, of course, Hugh. I mean Charlie.

Two fists up.



  1. Here at the office we all watched it because Tracy and her husband were extras in the courthouse scenes. Wouldn’t you know it that any footage of Tracy got cut but we can see her husband guzzling a coffee in the background of one of the scenes. It IS great fun to recognize the backdrops, isn’t it? And even nicer to just gaze at Hugh Jackman.

    • Before I return it I’ll have to watch that scene again to see Tracy’s hubby.

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