Written by Joel Loynds
The original Robocop was a very special movie. It was part of Paul Verhoeven’s tirade of movies (Total Recall, Starship Troopers) that were these obtusely subtle social commentaries and fantastic sci-fi-action movies. Similarly, this new Robocop follows Hollywood’s tirade of remakes of Verhoeven’s classics and the question is raised: is it any cop?
Robocop follows Alex Murphy, a detective investigating weapon smuggling who gets in a bit too deep. After being caught in an explosion, he’s reconstructed and becomes Robocop. Now, he has to deal with his new reality and the ever rampant crime in Detroit.
It’s impossible to not be cynical about a Robocop remake, especially one that holds a 12A rating. Gone is the gore that surprised us all that first time round, gone is the grit and with the 80’s long over, gone is that makeshift, “a computer can be anything we want” attitude.
Robocop 2014 doesn’t have to be ‘makeshift’ in how it presents itself, because it’s actually not that big of a stretch to imagine anymore. It works with the 21st century to the absolute full, doing exactly what the original film did, but from this new, modern perspective.
Omnicorp plays a somewhat, bigger role this time around and seems to have already been successful in implementing the bipedal killing machines around the world. They’re still the obvious villains, only in it for business and the such, but they’re no longer in boardrooms, with several old white men witnessing the possible destruction of their business due to a malfunction that sees someone blown to pieces. No, this time around it’s a man in that casual attire that you’d see Steve Jobs in, his PR department and some scientists.
While the film does that thing, where all action films or remakes have to have a deep emotional plot that is dwelled upon for a vast majority of the bits outside the actual Robocop scenes you really want to see, it’s Gary Oldman that secretly steals the whole movie as Dr. Norton.
His character is the one that has to deal upfront with making this man a machine, getting way too wrapped up in developing a product and forgetting the original intention. It’s not especially well written, but Oldman picks up what’s lacking in a really great way.
Speaking of this emotional twist, nothing to do with Alex Murphy and his family is really any good. It’s forced, wedged in and as awkward as Robocop’s movements. I sat and sighed whenever it’d come up on screen and missed how the original dealt with it – all in his head and a thing to progress the plot, not bring it to a halt.
In the original movie, stereotypical 80s reporters dotted the plot, Samuel L. Jackson takes this role and the movie sends it in a modern American-we’re-right-esque news network way, with that obtuse subtlety screaming through these parts, to the point where the film starts to lose the subtle and spells it out for the audience in a way that really ruins these segments, just because they wanted Jackson to flip out in a Bill O’Rielly manner.
What I really loved though, is that they kept the awkwardness of the robot’s movements and that unique style. They’ve almost replicated that stop-motion feel of the bipedal mechs and Robocop himself still does that stilted, full 90 degree turn whenever he moves. Even in the action scenes, he looks like he’s swivelling around and not moving like a man. Robocop does look cool too, even if I miss the 80s look.
Robocop takes a very different approach to the premise and it isn’t until about half an hour in, that it suddenly begins to stand on its own, side by side with the original. It does what other remakes or reboots often fail to do, which is make something of themselves.
You can look at Evil Dead from last year, which eventually just became a series of references wrapped up in a new packaging and while Robocop does this at certain points, it often feels similar to what Star Trek did, which was just to reassure the audience that this is still Robocop.
It follows similar story beats, adds in a whole other layer, follows the original look and while it’s not perfectly executed at times, it’s a commendable effort in the recent trend of trashy remakes coming from Hollywood.Tweet