RoboCop for the next generation succeeds in many ways with fancier effects, tech and also boasts an embarrassingly good cast, but all the new improvements just serve a reminder of how disturbing and subversive Paul Verhoevan’s movie was.
The rejuvenated RoboCop sticks pretty much to the original plot, but with a few subtle tweaks, which lay foundations for deeper character development and the background story of the Future of Law Enforcement.
Set in 2028, Mega-corporation OmniCorp, headed by hard ass CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton on top form) and operating from their Detroit HQ, has taken the modern Superpower’s reliance on drones one-step further, with a series of robots essentially replacing American soldiers abroad.
But despite the efforts of motor mouth TV news anchor Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson), the American public are reluctant to use Omnicorp’s droids on home soil.
The worry is that they lack human judgement and emotion. What OmniCorp need is a robot with human input to lead the way and they are searching in vein hard for amputees and other war casualties.
Enter Detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman), whose investigations into gun-running and possible corruption among his colleagues have led to him being car-bombed to smithereens outside his home.
His wife Clara (Abbie Cornish) painfully consents to the plan to save his life and Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman, bringing gravitas to the back story) hits the lab to transform Murphy into RoboCop.
While he is being prepared for the outside world, a big deal is made to explain how Murphy’s brain chemistry is controlled by nightly doses of nutrients, anti-depressants and later a crucial dose of dopamine which effectively removes his capacity for emotion and so makes him an effective machine.
The sequence when Dr Dennet reveals what is left of his body to Alex is a surreal highlight of the movie and perhaps the most shocking moment for the younger audience.
Verhoevan’s 1987 original was an all out gore fest, which was even toned down ahead of the release and the lack of blood in this movie is no doubt a prominent feature for fans of the first film.
Critics will point out that the PG-13 rating doesn’t allow for the gun toting bloodshed even in what should be a most justifiable violent scenario.
And bare breasts (which Starship Troopers and Showgirls director Verhoevan was always fond of) are missing – even Samuel L.Jackson has gone on record to say that the new movie would have benefited from some nipples, whilst pointing out the boob when a Hollywood TV anchor mistook him for Lawrence Fishburne in a RoboCop press junket (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YA8Y_kGx7Ls)
This movie is downright hilarious in parts and damn amusing throughout, which often helps take your mind off the missing blood and breasts.
The Soundtrack is great and the first sequence featuring Robo in action to the vintage sounds of Wizard of Oz’s Tin Man is genius.
There are enough references and nods to the original to please even the most metallic hearts, with a re-working of the ‘I’d buy that for a dollar’ line and some of RoboCop’s best quotes to boot.
Criticisms would include that there’s is not enough of Robo tackling petty crime and he doesn’t twirl his gun once. Also the CGI versions of the ED-209 leave a lot to be desired.
The new movie for all its fancy new lights and kick ass motorbike, is no where near as probing and troubling as the original, but it is an enjoyable ride none the less.