Directed By: Jose Padiha
Written By: Joshua Zetumer, Edward Zeumeier, and Michael Miner
This actually turned out to be one of the weirdest reviews I have ever written and when I couldn’t figure out what to do with it I decided to just roll with it. I have broken the review into two pieces to make it easier to understand. So here it is, the post that has been holding me up. I am happy to wash my hands of it and move on.
I usually loathe remakes but this is not just an exception to that fact, it’s an exceptional exception to my typical line of thinking. I love the original Robocop, and when I first heard there was a remake coming I was frustrated. Yet, at the same time I kept an open mind. If there is ever a movie to remake it’s a futuristic vision that can be adapted to more modern realities. Not only in the vision of the future Robocop presents but the future as it is with the capabilities we have today to bring things to screen.
This movie gets props by following in the footsteps of the original by assembling an excellent cast. It horribly failed by copping out for the PG-13 rating with a complete lack of violence but when it comes to the cast it gets props. The action in this movie is fantastic but ultimately lacking when it comes to the graphic violence we saw in the original film. Yet, they have Omar from The Wire, they have that likable awkward funny kid Jay Baruchel in a serious role, they have Gary Oldman who can do just about anything, they have the up and coming Joel Kinnaman, they have Michael Keaton, and if that’s not enough they have Samuel L Motherfucking Jackson.
This movie is adapted to the times while staying to its roots and I find it very impressive. It manages to make its own thing while honoring the original at the same time. I love that they maintained a similar musical score to correlate with the character so many of us grew up with. Robocop was awesome, but due for an upgrade. The internet has been created since the idea was first conceived and it is an important element to be incorporated into the character. This movie doesn’t have the substance of the original but it has the upgrades to make for an interesting retelling.
There are things to like about this movie but overwhelmingly it doesn’t measure up, and having watched both this and the original on the same day I can sum it up simply. It’s all in the lack of bad guys. Michael Keaton is awesome but he simply doesn’t compare to the likes of Dick Jones and Clarence Boddicker. Those two were bad guys for the ages and that element is absent entirely from this film. This movie lacks intensively in the bad guy department.
The way this movie ends made it what is was for me. It’s the same principle George Costanza figured out one time on Seinfeld. Leave them laughing and they remember you fondly. I fell victim to that scenario with this movie. Samuel L. Jackson closed out this movie with an awesome monologue that cleverly covered up his preferred profane dialogue. When I considered the film in hindsight the ending immediately came to mind and I remembered loving that while forgetting a lot about what I didn’t like.
I wrote all of the above on the day of. In fact, the first three paragraphs were typed out before the movie had even been on for 15 minutes. I had only seen this movie one time before the review and wrote all of that in anticipation. I had really been looking forward to watching this movie. It had set an impression on me when we watched it the first time and I had waited until it was the movie on deck for the blog before watching it again.
Now this review has held me up for weeks as I considered it. Did I scrap whatever I had written and start from scratch? Did I try to adapt what I had already written to my current thinking despite the drastic difference? I was at a loss because I like to keep moving forward and frankly this one stopped me in my tracks.
Here was a film that I remembered liking an awful lot but on the second take I was so let down. I have considered how this happened and believe I have solved the issue. When I watched this remake for the first time I had incredibly low expectations. I hate remakes on principle but gave this one a chance and it surprised me. I was very taken with the effects and the advancements to the actual title character. I really liked the cast and when the movie closes with Samuel L Jackson doing his Samuel L Jackson thing it left me laughing and I remembered it being better than it actually was.
Fast forward to March 4th 2016 and everything was different. I had been on a roll going through the movies in our collection. So much so that I had a day to myself and decided to tackle two movies back to back. Those two movies were this and the original. That morning I fell in love all over again with Paul Verhoeven’s science fiction classic, and then that night everything that was wrong with the remake was poisoning my eyes.
This movie has a great cast, it has a few select scenes that are memorable and exciting, it echoes the original just enough to get your nostalgic mood brewing, but overwhelming it fails at everything else. The story is all wrong and despite how awesome Michael Keaton is there is just no villain in this film that can compare to those of the first film.
I think Joel Kinneman gave a terrific performance in one scene specifically. The scene in which he sees what is left of him physically for the first time and a tear rolls out of his one real eye as the horror overwhelms him. Very powerful scene that really got me the first time I saw it. I think it is really cool to see Robocop scanning crowds and running. In the first film, Robocop is incredibly slow for technical reasons but in this film he is the way he should be as a robot. I really like the part played by Samuel L Jackson and think he shines as he always does. Other than that there is no other reason to see this movie.
I am almost embarrassed to even have this movie in my collection and can’t figure out what kind of spell I was under when I thought it was good enough for our collection. To think I’ve not only owned it but had it sitting on the shelf next to the true classic it stole its name from seems like a personal travesty. My suggestion would be to not see this movie at all and save your time. There is no way, shape, or form in which this one measures even a tiny bit up to the original film.
NEXT MOVIE: The Rock (1996)