Nine Things about the Movie "Robocop" (2014)
1. This is a "remake" of the classic 1987 film. But while the name and basic plot is the same, this is a very different movie.
2. It's set in the year 2028 where the Omnicorp company sells robot police to the U.S. military for use in countries overseas. But they are not allowed in the U.S. because Americans are paranoid about robots running law enforcement.
3. When police officer Alex Murphy gets blown up in front of his house, Omnicorp gets the idea to take what's left of him and make him a robot. This is done in the hopes that by retaining a basic human identity, Americans will accept robotic police. But Murphy's human ethics conflict with his robotic programming, and it causes problems.
4. Both versions of the movie are making social commentaries on their times. The 1987 version was a satire on 80's American consumer culture and excess. The 2014 version is more of a commentary on national security, and the boundaries of technology and humanity.
5. The 1987 version was rated R and was very violent and bloody for its time. This version does have a lot of shootouts and killing, but there is almost no blood. It is rated PG-13.
6. In the 1987 version Murphy is actually killed and resurrected, but his human memories are all wiped. In this version, Murphy isn't actually killed; leaving his humanity intact is a key plot element.
7. This version is much more philosophical than the original. It's partly an existential meditation on identity, free will, and what makes us human.
8. One of the more interesting changes is the character of Murphy's partner, Lewis. In the 1987 original, Lewis was a white woman. In this version, Lewis is a black man.
9. If you are expecting a direct remake of the 1987 cult classic, you will be disappointed. But the director wisely left the original alone and basically made a new movie. If you like movies that mix action with intellect, this is worth seeing.
on February 10, 2014
I think this movie has had too much negativity for all the wrong reasons, im a massive fan of the original and this new version is just as awesome in my eyes for so many different reasons, the story is stronger this time round with a bit more depth into his human side and its interesting that we are introduced into a more technical future with robots and Ed-209 units already patrolling our countries! the suit is very cool and really works well with the new story, the black version is very military as why they did it but I think they knew that the silver works best by the end as you will see if you have not already watched it, the effects are great, lots of action, there is not any bloody violence but its really not needed in this version, take the violence out of the original does it make it any less an awesome film? NO, there are plenty of cool nods to the original there and even the same theme tune which really puts a smile on your face, the cast was great, Sam Jackson and Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton are all superb, this is good fun sci-fi and it does not taint the original at all you can live with the best of both, its certainly miles better than any sequel or spin off in past years, don't listen to haters go ahead and watch it!!! Role on the new Robocop 2!!!
on April 10, 2014
Note: I will eventually update and replace this review when I acquire the Blu-ray.
Had a chance to go see this the other day after a fresher, more recent viewing of the remastered original on Blu-ray (my first time seeing that one since I was a kid). And I have to say I was pretty surprised by how much I liked this remake. When I first saw the trailer, I honestly thought it would turn out to be some kind of shallow action movie that would only be hindered by its PG-13 rating. But what I got was a very well-written film with sleek production values, a good dose of action, and a lot of soul in the story.
For those who might've been stuck under the proverbial "movie rock" and don't know the basic premise of RoboCop, the story follows Detroit police officer (or detective, in this remake) Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) who is so badly injured in the line of duty, that his body is donated and remade into a prototype police cyborg by the conglomerate company, OmniCorp. In becoming cyberized, the contrasting entities of both man and machine are causing Murphy to question his directives and values as both the person he was and the product he has become. But as with any corporation, there's more to this "product" than meets the eye.
Firstly, I have to say that as much as I liked the original movie growing up, after seeing it again, it shows its age. It's an '80s movie and feels every bit like one, mostly in the dialogue and characterizations, but especially the effects. And I still do like it a lot, but probably not as much. As a whole, I see it as an action movie with subtle hints of moral/ethical quandaries about the treatment of human test subjects and as an allegory to corporate corruption for the sake of profit. I get that. I like it. And it feels very ambitious for a movie in '87. But after watching the movie I saw yesterday, it was like a complete 180-flip on the story emphasis. Instead of being an action flick with hints of story, I'm delighted to say it was a very human story with hints of action.
The new RoboCop essentially takes everything the original didn't overtly talk about and puts it in the open. It spends less time showing the ingenuity of the technology itself and, in my opinion, tells a much more humanizing story for the moral/ethical issues that only had its surface scratched in the original. You can see this pretty easily from the moment Murphy wakes up in his new form and as the film progresses with OmniCorp gradually trying to make him more and more of a machine. Whereas the original had him wake up as a machine that gradually became more human.
Also much more pronounced in this remake is the allegory of the all-powerful corporate conglomerate superpower. Instead of being a widely-known American brand, a la the the original, they upped the ante, here, by having OmniCorp also dipping into the military scene. For video game fans, I saw this is as basically being a reference to the Metal Gear universe and the concept of PMCs (Private Military Companies) and that the movie's aesthetic is a dead ringer for Metal Gear Rising (the film's opening scene, in particular, and the fact that the protagonist is a cyborg). Not sure if either are influences for one another, but it's a pretty damn cool coincidence.
That being said, this new RoboCop is pretty entertaining. It re-invents the original concept very well and even manages to throw in some references and one-liners from the old '87 flick. The characterizations are much more fleshed-out, the story much more symbolic, the special effects obviously more updated, the action well-choreographed, and the cinematography is still surprisingly gritty, despite the movie being shot digitally. I know it's cheesy to make one-liner references in a movie review, but.. (grr..) I'd buy *that* for a dollar!
If you're a fan of the original and are hesitant by the mere fact that this is a "remake," please put aside any prejudice or stereotypes you think you know about remakes and give this one a chance. You might actually be surprised at what you find.
Thank you for your cooperation.
on August 16, 2014
My wife thinks this is two stars too many, but I think it was at least semi-watchable. We expected something vaguely entertaining, even if it wasn't as fun or intelligent as the original. We're more than happy to occasionally turn our brains off to watch fluff, but this isn't quite to the level of fluff. It's just boring. Slow, plodding, predictable, with a plot that doesn't really get going until about an hour into the movie. Even then it's just blah. It's the cinematic equivalent of that person who drives 20 miles under the speed limit in the left lane. You keep waiting for him to turn off or pull over and every once in a while there's a hint that maybe he might, but he never does.
The worst part, though, is that the action is completely without any tension or suspense. There's no scary bad guy, no illusion whatsoever that he's in any danger, and no sense of relief when he sleepwalks his way through one generic fight scene after another with about as much difficulty as I had this morning flossing my teeth. The bad guys are about as menacing as your average Girl Scouts (unless you're Pete Holmes' Badman, of course), and as bland as a Village Inn steak.
All in all, it's a decent movie to have on in the background while you're cleaning the house or trying to take a nap, but that's about it.
on March 16, 2015
I thought this re-make would be similar to the original but it wasn't howevery not a bad movie
on February 28, 2015
For this to even share the same name as the original is an outright insult. I will discuss my main issue with this film. It will have spoilers for both movies and will be lengthy.
Frankly, the transformation from Murphy to Robocop was handled abysmally. Not only was his "death" not a death at all, it was reduced to being severely burned over 90% of his body with an amputation and ruined sight in one eye from a car bomb. Um, there's kind of a big difference between being killed in the most brutal way possible and being severely wounded. The most glaring oversight however was the removal of the psychological revulsion and horror to the audience of being ruthlessly and unmercifully slaughtered. That trauma from the first was absent here entirely, and a car bomb does NOT cut it. Hell, Murphy mine as well have forgotten to turn off the gas to his BBQ and lit a match. In the original, the manner of Murphy's death and the presence of the villains was absolutely vital to the plot. It lent more weight to his motivation later on to investigate it and those responsible, as well as helped define the antagonists (Boddicker remains among one of the most memorable villains in cinematic history), which in this movie were consequentially as cookie cutter and forgettable as you can possibly get.
As for the transformation itself, it was wholly implausible.
The reason Murphy's resurrection worked in the original was because Murphy was, for all intents and purposes, dead. When he awoke as Robocop, he wasn't Murphy, he was a reanimated corpse/cyborg built on his remains. He didn't come to and have to suddenly confront the weight of the ramifications of his situation all at once because he wasn't alive. The ability for him to feel and interpret emotions was, while I wouldn't argue destroyed completely, largely diminished and detached when he was murdered, and the reanimation only brought back his mental facilities in their strictest form. Hence, throughout, we never saw Murphy come to terms with the loss of his humanity as we witnessed him becoming cognizant that it even existed in the first place. This is triggered first by his dream, then by Lewis asking him his name, and finally him confronting one of his murderers (Emil) at the gas station. These awakened dormant memories, a direct link to that humanity and previous existence to whom Robo was a stranger, and a subsequent quest of self-discovery ensues. He was not even aware he existed prior to when he awoke, and at the end he finally came to realize that his existence was built upon the remnants of a past life mercilessly destroyed, yet it was sadly a half victory because he couldn't fully appreciate or grieve it emotionally.
This core loss of his humanity is the central tragedy that defines the original and has made it such a beloved classic by so many, it's why it has endured for so long, and is what is wholly missing here.
There's a single line in the original that encapsulates what made Robocop Robocop, when he's asking Lewis at the factory about his family: "I can feel them......but I can't remember them". This wonderful piece of concision explained all that needed to be known about Alex Murphy post mortem. He was a biological machine that had the residual fragments of a shattered soul that he could sense, yet was unable to fully understand or identify. Murphy's destruction and subsequent resurrection severed the tie between him being alive, and him being human. It not only raised questions as to what constitutes a person and what defines their reality and consciousness, but you could very easily buy into it the way it was executed.
In this film, Murphy is Murphy throughout. He wakes up, and for all he knows, he's just been K.O.'d by Tyson the car bomb. Nothing has changed for him aside from the fact he now has a suit for a body. This is the fundamental distinction that elevates the first film miles above this one....mortality. There is no striving for identity or humanism present because death never occurs, and the "soul" never left the body (not saying I believe in dualism, but it's nevertheless a major theme). The filmmakers obviously took the stance of: "Let's find the quickest way to turn Murphy into a cyborg, get his acceptance out of the way ASAP, then we're free to flood the screen with overly intrusive HUD elements, have lots of flashy shootouts, and show how cool a cyborg with his super bike can be!". Typical Hollywood garbage. It does not ask the audience to confront any real significant underlying themes or undertakes any responsibility to fully explore them. It instead views them as an obstacle or at best a obligatory necessity and burden to be overcome instead of a central focus to be pondered.
That is why this remake is an objectively worse film than its predecessor.
And while the portrayal of Murphy struggling to embrace his new identity is ultimately this film's greatest failing, it is by far not its only one. If I went into how Omnicorp wasn't portrayed as in any way evil (until the very end), the antagonists were not developed nor any of the characters remarkable (Dick Jones, Bob Morton, Lewis, Boddicker...nothing even close), the ridiculous overkill of the HUD and Robocop's unbelievable abilities, the emotional vacancy of the familial relationship, the falling flat attempts at mimicking Verhoven's tone and humor, what's the point of being a red asset if your product can still ****ing shoot you (sorry, the "emotions override the system" is a cop out), and on and on, this would turn into a thesis instead of an essay.
But before I depart, I don't wish to be completely mean spirited, so let me just lend some credit and say that at least they didn't neglect to include Samuel Jackson looking at the screen, bug-eyed, and scream his trademark, rage induced "MOTHER****ER!!!" before the end credits rolled. I suspected as much when he opened the film, and I wasn't left disappointed. Hey, if you're going to hire Jackson, get what you pay for, right directors? Oh yea, and I especially got a good chuckle out of Robo's HUD readout upon scanning that druggie perp: "Totally stoned". Like....TOTALLY, dude.
1 star, and one too many. Absolutely awful.
on June 8, 2014
I'm the kind of guy that actually gives remakes like these a chance before condemning them, I even went to see the Total Recall remake in theaters. But there were things about this RoboCop remake that I just couldn't get over. First of all, taking the rating down to a PG-13 when remaking an R-rated film is usually a mistake. How could you possibly emulate the essence of the original film, known for it's particular brand of violence, by dropping the rating? On top of that not release an unrated cut?
I was a fan of the tech in the 'not-too-distant-future', especially the Omnicorp machines, RoboCop's bike and all the hologram interfaces (even though they didn't do much for the cars but throw hubcaps on em). I was not really a fan of the over-emotional tone throughout the movie, there wasn't really enough run and gun action/violence to balance out all the "I'm a monster" scenes. When I first heard Joel Kinnaman from AMC's 'The Killing' was going to be the new Alex Murphy, I didn't know how I felt about it. After watching the movie and seeing that he basically plays a similar character, I still don't know how I feel about it.
Samuel L Jackson's "The Novak Element" bit served as something of a right winged Greek chorus for the film and was mildly amusing. Finally at the end of the movie there is a big action scene, but the CG seemed a little too flimsy for it to feel authentic. Instead RoboCop ends up just looking like Spider-man jumping and flipping around. If you're a die hard fan of the original you probably won't care much for the remake, otherwise it's good for some entertainment.
on March 17, 2014
Paul Verhoeven’s “RoboCop” was one of the crown jewels of ‘80s action cinema, a cautionary tale about the role of technology in our society presented in the form of a rip-roaring sci-fi adventure tale made up of equal parts black comedy and social commentary. Since the movie‘s release, technology has only become an ever more intrusive part of American life, so it would seem fitting for someone to mount a remake of “RoboCop” for the early 21st Century.
Well, that reboot is here, in the form of a movie written by Joshua Zetumer and directed by Jose Padilha. There are many devotees of the original who will likely balk at this update, but I think it works pretty well, at least before it goes off the rails somewhat in the second half.
The time is 2028. Technology has advanced to the point where policemen can essentially be replaced by giant robots capable of taking out the bad guys with minimal risk to human officers and innocent bystanders. Problem is many Americans remain skeptical about leaving such a task to mechanical instruments that feel no human emotion and thus might make the wrong, and potentially disastrous, calls at critical moments. Enter OmniCorp, a high-tech multinational corporation whose CEO (Michael Keaton) comes up with the plan to make such a robot out of an actual person, thereby combining the best of both worlds in a single entity. Alex Murphy, an undercover Detroit cop who has been severely wounded in the line of duty and hovers on the brink of death, is chosen from among many candidates to become the first human/robot hybrid in history. Voila, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present to you RoboCop.
As with the original, “RoboCop” is concerned with far more than the average action movie shoot-‘em-up. It explores the issue of just how far, as a society, we are willing to go in sacrificing our civil liberties in exchange for enhanced security. It also questions just how much of a person’s physical attributes can be replaced by technological ones before he or she ceases to be truly human. In the movie’s best scene, a newly-activated “mechanical” Alex learns just how little of his original body remains to him. It is a haunting and heartbreaking moment beautifully realized by both the special effects department and Joel Kinnaman (who made his mark in TV’s “The Killing”) who makes us actually care about the man in the machine. Without him, all the CGI in the world couldn’t have made the scene work this effectively.
The movie also looks at how readily public opinion on controversial topics can be molded and shaped through carefully honed messages, much in the same way as products are marketed to easily manipulated and persuadable consumers.
This “RoboCop” is definitely at its best in the first half, as Alex and those around him adjust to his new and unprecedented condition. Unfortunately, as with even the best action movies, the second half is less satisfying, as the plot tries to do too much for the time allotted to it and the story becomes muddled and confused as a result. For instance, a subplot involving corruption on the force is so poorly executed that it‘s resolved almost before we know it‘s going on.
Kinnaman receives some excellent support from Gary Oldman, who portrays that rare movie scientist who isn’t either a madman or an evil genius but rather a compassionate man who really wants to do good in the world, even if the technology he’s using threatens to spiral out of his control from time to time.
At times, “RoboCop” seems to be playing both sides of the fence on this issue of the role of technology in society. It clearly warns against allowing technology to override our humanity while at the same time seemingly endorsing Alex and the role that’s been thrust upon him by those with the wherewithal and capabilities to do so. And maybe it’s that very ambiguity - one that clearly reflects the world we all now live in - that makes “RoboCop” a movie with something of importance to say to our times.
I've always been a big fan of "Robocop," which is to say that I've been a fan long enough to watch the titular character transform from a post-modernist take on violent pop culture into a franchise that spawned a cartoon for kids. Or to put it another way, "Robocop" went full meta, coming full circle to be the embodiment of violence Paul Verhoeven was ferociously satirizing. And then we have Jose Padilha's version.
Oh, we've got all the beats: suburban dad and honest cop Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is ground up by the corruption of Detroit's criminal machinations and the ruthless corporate overlord of Omnicorp CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton); he's then spit out as a cyborg, the creation of the Dr. Frankenstein-like Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman). If there's one thing this new iteration of "Robocop" gets right, it's that this film is as much Dr. Norton's story as it is Murphy's. He's led down a golden path paved with promises to help the population at large by sacrificing, bit by bloody bit, pieces of Murphy's life.
The other thing that "Robocop" does differently from the original is thrust the family Murphy leaves behind front and center: wife Clara (Abbie Cornish) and son David (John Paul Ruttan). It took the sequel in the original franchise to get around to even addressing this, but it's a major plot point in the reboot, and that's a good thing. There's lots of modern twists that make this reboot timely, from the question of drones used on American soil to an always-on television culture that dissects everything and anything. There's just one problem: it's not funny.
The original "Robocop" was a relentlessly violent, gleefully cynical take on modern life in the 80s, fulfilling every jingoistic ambition for America in one glorious blender of murder, rape, late-night television commercials, and awful reality show slogans. Verhoeven never let us forget that there was a craptacular world on the periphery of the events of "Robocop," and that burden falls to blowhard talk show host Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson) in the new version. For the first few seconds, when Novak's vocal exercises are dubbed over the MGM lion's roar, there's the promise that he can pull it off...and then he simply doesn't.
"Robocop" is suffused with enough modern touches to make things occasionally uncomfortable, like when a kid with a knife gets gunned down by an ED-209. But most of the time it's too busy ping-ponging between Murphy's internal struggle with his new body -- or lack thereof -- and his attempt to solve his own murder, with occasional asides by marketing execs marveling at how the plot is unspooling on the stage of American television.
The problem is that there are no clear villains here. The original neatly connected all the dots so that Murphy wasn't just killing the men who killed him, he was truly cutting the head off a corporate snake. In the remake, nobody's really at fault -- they just take stupid risks in pursuit of greed. This robs the film of the catharsis of the original .
This version covers the same story of "Robocop," but it simply can't live up -- or stoop low enough -- to top the original.
on May 23, 2014
Let's get this out of the way: Robocop is not a true remake. They could have changed the title. The story is pretty different. In fact, the story is better in many ways.
The effects are incredible and fun to watch. The statements this movie makes indirectly about America's current foreign affairs are worth thinking about--kind of scary, actually. With the advent of drones, how far are we from humanoid robots?
The action is fun, well-done. The transformation of Murphy is heart-wrenching and more realistic than the first film. I really enjoyed much of this movie. The writers were very creative in explaining how Murphy is put together, enhanced, controlled, etc. It makes Murphy's human element more poignant when it has to override the robotics.
So what's wrong with Robocop?
1) The soundtrack is horrible. It is distracting and corny. It ruins some of the action scenes. You have awesome action accompanied by CORNY LOUD music. It feels like you are trying to watch a cool movie while your neighbors are blasting videogame tunes.
2) The acting is uneven. I'm sorry, but this lead was not ready to handle a role as important to Americans as Alex Murphy. He is robotic before he even gets a new body!
3) Sam Jackson. Why the heck is he even in this film? He represents a corrupt, corporate media--like the media we are stuck with right now in America. Ok, I get it. But he yells the news and annoys movie-goers like some maniacal Bill O'Reilly--without having any interesting or useful connection to the main storyline.
4) The ending is bad. Or should I say, BOTH endings are bad. There is a quiet, rushed ending with Alex Murphy--during which he smiles like a stuffed panda. Then there is the final ending in which Sam Jackson rants at us until the screen blacks out.
This movie will have you teetering back and forth between genuine interest and eye-rolling nausea.
DO NOT BUY. Rent it, though. There is much worth seeing here.