LOOK PAST THE ROBOTS, implores director Shawn Levy of his boxing pic, Real Steel, due in October. "[This] is less a descendent of Transformers than it is of Rocky," he says. Alas, there they are: pugilistic robots. To master the kinetics of boxing for his film, which is set a decade in the future, when human boxers have been replaced by machines, Levy turned to retired five-time world champion Sugar Ray Leonard, who worked with Hugh Jackman (playing a human ex-boxer) and advised on the robots' F/X movements. "The secret in the hero robot's rise is that he's able to mirror humanlike grace," explains Levy, "so Ray channeled the qualities he had as a fighter into the robot's choreography."
OFTEN OVERLOOKED in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are the struggles of the 1.4 million Arab Israelis who live in Israel, their ties to state and heritage in seeming conflict. After the Cup focuses on Israeli Premier League soccer team Bnei Sakhnin F.C.—made up of nine Arab Israelis, seven Jewish Israelis and five non-Israelis—and shows how sport gave the Arab players identities beyond politics. The filmmakers spent two years with the club, starting in 2004, after Sakhnin became the first team from an Arab town to win the Israeli Cup, then spent three years securing distribution. The result is a stirring record of 21 men tackling success amid underfunding, hostility and impossible expectations.
LOST AMONG the buddy-film clichés of Hot Tub Time Machine was one clever—and, for some, painful—sports reference: A screwup named Lou, one of three friends who revisit their glory days using time-travel, bets on the unlikely end of the 1987 AFC title game between the Browns and the Broncos. But in a Doc Brown--ish nod to the dangers of time tampering, what should have been John Elway's 98-yard tying Drive is thwarted by a squirrel, and Lou loses. "That the line 'Cleveland's going to the Super Bowl!' is uttered in this movie is such a big moment for [Browns fans]," says screenwriter Josh Heald. "Who knows if [that will] happen again."