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Customer Review

74 of 104 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not stooping low enough to top the original, February 16, 2014
This review is from: RoboCop [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
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.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 24, 2014 7:27:48 PM PDT
Enigma says:
This sounds like a real, honest review. I will take it to heart.

In reply to an earlier post on May 31, 2014 2:13:36 AM PDT
Crank says:
Stoop low enough lol? I don't agree with this at all. If anything the first Robocop had an iron first of a moral message. Be a murdering, lying bastard and you will pay the consequences. There is VERY little in the name of nudity or rape in Robocop but one or two minor scenes besides the shirt shoot.

I think your whole idea that the original Robocop stoops to a low level of morality is patently absurd. If anything this remake stoops to the lowest level of all, purely trying to make money off a masterpiece for a new generation of twiddling tweens.

If by violence you mean stooping low again I have no idea where you are going with it. The film is about crime, drugs, violence, and justice. It happens.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 5, 2014 7:12:18 PM PDT
ROBOCOP, the original, never had a moral message of any type. It was an action sci-fi adventure, with lots of violence. It does in fact stoop to juvenile tastes, as exemplified by the scene in which the one gang member fell into the vat of chemicals, and was then splattered on a windshield. This was tossed in strictly for the goo factor, so teenagers in the audience can say, "Oh, dude, he was splattered. That was effing cool."

The movie was a fun movie, but it wasn't all of that.

Posted on Jun 12, 2014 6:43:02 PM PDT
Chris Cox says:
thank you for a 99% great review! and the main reason why i won't even touch this blury/depressing/overly-techtized/militaristic/democratized remake of the original. you made one small, but very important mistake....the directors name for the original is Paul verhoeven(vur-hoov-vyn) and it's dutch! the 1987 original has a soul, a sardonic wit, danger at every corner, power hungry white-collar elitists, resentful blue collar mind-games/opportunists, and one-hell-of-an- unbeatable-gang of cinematic terrorists whom have never to this day been nor will ever be topped called the clarence j. boddicker gang and their cocaine boy sal and his gang. i own the canadian versions of the films on dvd but could not stay with the tv show. i had always thought robocop was strictly for the adults. page fletcher is NO robocop. robert john burke<robocop 3 barely cut the mustard , but did a fine job keep the storyline togethe>r. i was one of the first to screen rant, politely begging jose pedilha..."please, don't do this, you are going to ruin the original". somebody else said.."jose padilha is going to take all the "fight" out of robocop, and they were right!"

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 13, 2014 3:48:28 AM PDT
Thank you for the correction, I changed Verhoeven's first name to "Paul."
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