In 1987, Paul Verhoeven (Director of Total Recall and Starship Troopers) directed the cult classic RoboCop. Due to it being a hit, making 3 times what it cost to make, 2 sequels were spawned. The second making only a third of what it cost to make, and the third being a huge flop. The franchise was put on the shelf and thought to be dead. However hollywood, running out of original ideas or not wanting to take chances on original ideas, decided to take it off the shelf, dust it off and put a fresh coat of paint on it, black paint specifically. This is being helmed by Brazilian director José Padilha, making the RoboCop remake his first american film. In this review, I will not be talking about the differences between the films. I feel it to be unfair to critique a film simply because it is a remake, I will be labeling the pros and cons of this movie on its own merits.
The plot of the film is very similar to the original, with some tweaks here and there. Alex Murphy (Played by Joel Kinnaman; The Killing and Safe House) is part of an undercover sting of some gun smugglers. When things go awry, they make an attempt on his life. Raymond Sellers (Played by Michael Keaton; Batman and Beetlejuice), Head of OmniCorp, commissions Dr. Dennett Norton (Played by Gary Oldman; The Dark Knight Series and Leon: The Professional) to create a Robot with a conscience that the american populace can rally behind. This is due to a bill that’s in place that prevents OmniCorp robots from being used on american soil. It needs to be overturned, hence RoboCop’s birth. In attempt to say this without spoilers, the plot is very reliant on the philosophy that Philip K. Dick wrote about in “do androids dream of electric sheep?” and Isaac Asimov’s law of robotics. At times, it becomes very heavy-handed on these themes, especially when they allow cyborg Alex to visit his family and even confront his family later on. It’s really my biggest gripe with the movie.
The best thing about the film is the casting. There are so many great actors strewn about the whole feature. Other than a few I already mentioned, there is quite possibly my favorite character, Pat Novak (Played by Samuel L. Jackson; Pulp Fiction and countless other roles, you know what he’s starred in) of the The Novak Element, a political opinion show in which Pat berates any one individual who opposes his view, much like most 24 hour news pundit shows. Another character who frequents the screen is Rick Maddox (Played by Jackie Earle Haley; Watchmen and A Nightmare on Elm Street). He is the head of OmniCorp’s Robot Military division, he shows up every so often to be a thorn in RoboCop’s side and he does a wonderful job at it.
The visual aspect of this film is very bright given the subject matter. Not very many scenes in this movie are difficult to see unless it was called for. This is actually quite a nice quality to the film because we need to see this future world. The original was very bright as well but I feel with a lot of remakes, being a visually dark film is something remakes do often. Speaking of the future world, I love the look and feel of 2028. What I mean by this is a "used" look to the world. It's not your typical shiny future you see in other movies. The only location in the film you could consider shiny would be the laboratory that RoboCop was built and RoboCop looks great in the film as well. He has a new look but it doesn't suck and actually makes sense to who created him and why. There is a sizable plot hole with though, I won't go into it due to it being a spoiler but it was something that bothered me as I watched.
My biggest gripe with the movie are the heavy-handed political and philosophical questions it keeps shoving down your throat. I dont need to be reminded constantly about the potential dangers of robotics or how is a machine supposed to feel? It’s really not that necessary.
Overall I’d say the movie is worth watching, it has a few missteps here and there, which is to be expected. I thought, going into this, I was going to hate it, I didn’t and that stands for something. I give the RoboCop remake an 8 outta 10.
What is your opinion of the RoboCop remake? Are you planning on seeing if you haven’t? Let us know in the comment section below, on our Facebook Fan Page, or tweet us @MissionStartP
-Gregg Dietz (@ChubRockGeek)
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