Movie Review: Robocop
Prinz Lee wrote this review 3 years ago
No question the 80s released some of the most memorable films ever. And when tracking them, one will always bring up “Robocop!” In many ways considering times, the film was way beyond its look, feel and overall style. It was different. It was edgy. It was futuristic. Director Paul Verhoeven stained the movie industry with a piece that not only found itself praised by critics, but also generated a following I think it wasn’t quite expecting. As a classic Sci-Fi, crime, action flick… not only did it engrave its own futuristic half-man, half-robot poster boy Peter Weller in our brains, but also engraved some of the classic lines to this day we find ourselves saying from time-to-time.
Followed by shitty sequels, the product was left alone and maintained its respect and stand-out attitude among everything else having been released during that decade. However, like always, studio execs need to spin the wheel of reboots (due to lack of originality) and thought it’d be a great idea to revive a monster that wasn’t even dead. After all the hoopla, SONY Pictures assembled a crew and cast and hashed out an upgraded version of “Robocop.” The end result remains to be seen, but I can tell you this: personally, didn’t love it, didn’t hate it! Dynamic in contemporary ways, but its origins can never be duplicated!
In this rebooted version, the year is 2028 and multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is at the center of badassery in terms robot technology. Overseas, their drones have been used by the military for years - and it's meant financial success for OmniCorp's bottom line. Now OmniCorp wants to bring their controversial technology home, and they see a golden opportunity to do it. When Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) - a loving husband, dad and good cop doing his best to fight crime and corruption in Detroit - is critically injured in the line of duty, OmniCorp sees their ultimate chance to build a part-man, part-robot police officer. OmniCorp envisions a RoboCop in every city and even more money for their shareholders, but they never counted on one thing: there is still a man inside the machine pursuing justice!
Now, it’s a wee bit of a tweaked story-line, but truth is this movie wasn’t all that bad considering my biased opinion mentioned earlier. There are elements of good in this piece and it’s pretty much narrowed down to a better cast (with Gary Oldman and Samuel L. Jackson as psychotically, cool stand-outs), better look and better sound. Solid, crisp and clear to the core, the original may pale a bit when standing alongside its artistic appeal. And much of its style also taps into contemporary issues and one pretty much becomes drastically clear when touching up on one of our nation’s biggest debates among drone strikes. Tackling the subject-matter as a subtle blanket as to why 72% of Americans are against it in the film, it is interesting and appealing to see the debate flow. Whether done on purpose or not we’ll never know, but it was a great display of debates among characters.
Unlike other remakes, the writing is entertaining and fun to hear and watch while playing itself out. Paying lots of respect to its original-dirty-rotten-scoundrel, on more than one occasion lines from the past emerged causing nostalgia. But it didn’t stop there, because much to our enjoyment the suit he starts off with mimics the original as well as music. Upgraded soundtrack didn’t omit its score from giving us that familiar tune which can practically serve as Robocop’s theme music. (It’s actually playing in my head as I type this review.)
However, much like every coin, there’s another side. For all of its interesting upgrades and feel and fun, that’s where my gripe comes in. “Fun” wasn’t something we experienced while enduring the original. What the first carried out in terms of darkened emotional, distress of a man seeking revenge and purpose, was missing from this current piece. Never really locking in on any emotional distress, the feeling was pretty empty when watching Robocop version 2014 seek out his justice as Robocop 1987 did. Writers Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner (87) had it down to a core when tapping into a man/robot psyche for revenge and purpose. Oddly, in many ways I found myself able to relate on a more humanistic approach. It was detailed brilliantly. Whereas writer Joshua Zetumer’s approach seemed a bit more like the brief story-lines we see in video games that are cool to endure, but fall flat in terms of any sympathy due to its harsh rush. If anything, dare I say anticlimactic and over-killed as it was also an hour longer than the original. This film could have easily been an hour and forty-five minutes much like the first. Two and change was way too much as it dipped in some areas that could have been edited and saved for its Blu-ray.
Overall, this current piece has its flaws and faults, but it doesn’t really disappoint like other rehashes that are simply shameful and embarrassing. “Robocop” will always remain strong for being unique among other franchises and movie-based heroes. How far this version will go remains to be seen, but with an ending tease of a possible sequel, if this does well at the box office (and I have a feeling it might), we can all bank on another one popping up in another year or so. And trust me when I say you can buy that for a dollar! I’ll always keep my loyalties to what made my early movie years memorable, but think I also need to respect and allow a different view as its main point is to garner new followers.
Grade: B- / Genre: Sci-Fi, Action, and Crime / Rated: PG-13 / Run Time: 2 Hr. 20 Min.
Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Ckeaton, Abbie Cornish, Samuel L. Jackson, Jackie Earle Haley, Jay Baruchel
Directed by: Jose Padilha