Paul Verhoven

Robocop

Year: 1987
Directed By: Paul Verhoven
Written By: Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner

RYAN’S REVIEW

The farther we go into the past the more interesting the movies about the future tend to be. They are interesting because they represent a clear idea of what people thought was coming in the future. Looking back it’s always fun to see how wrong they were and to contrast it with what did and didn’t actually happen. This movie never says specifically what year in the future it is but they had some very interesting things going on in their rendition of it. These future on goings include a presidential visit to a space station, nuclear war in South Africa between the Afrikaners and the South Africans, specially modeled mechanical hearts like the “sports heart”, and of course robot and cybernetic police officers. It’s so obvious they had little to no idea about the internet. Something that would literally change every facet of modern society. That has to make you think about the future in a different way. What crazy new development lies ahead of us now that none of us could ever imagine?

Not that they had everything completely wrong about the future in this film. At the very least they presented some very interesting ideas. The portrayal of the media is very interesting and the idea that a police force could be owned by a corporation is also interesting. Not that this has happened but the possibility in our ever changing now makes it something to think about.

Something I love most about this movie is the graphic violence. Even by today’s standards it’s incredibly violent but that’s so much about what makes the movie satisfying. It isn’t just violent, it’s excessively violent. From the dismembering gun shots to death by toxic waste this film went above and beyond to earn its R rating. It was worth it, it makes the movie so much better. Yeah, Robocop could have easily disabled the would be rapist and rescued the woman, but don’t we all relish in that scene where he gets more savaged with it? He doesn’t do the easy thing, he shoots between the victims legs to hit the criminal in the junk. When Clarence Boddicker takes a warning to the up and coming executive Bob Morton he could have simply punched Morton to knock him down and make him watch the video. Not in this savage film though, Boddicker dismisses the ladies with the classic line “bitches leave!” and then shoots Morton multiple times in the legs. The more than necessary shooting not only makes the bad guy a more ruthless villain but it makes this ultimately violent movie all that much better.

This movie is loaded with talent, and so many of the actors are exceptional that it’s hard to know where to begin. Best start with the bad guys because they own the show in this movie. Even though they are facing off against a really awesome robot cop. Kurtwood Smith turned in one of his finest roles ever as Clarence Boddicker. He is so vicious and provocative in this movie. He plays the part with a confidence that is impressive and he is so unpredictable as a villain. I spent so much time during my formative years watching Kurtwood Smith portray Red Foreman on That 70’s Show that it always blows my mind to see him in this movie. He is legendary as Clarence Boddicker even until the end as he is beating Robocop with a metal pipe. One of my favorite scenes is the aforementioned threatening of Bob Morton. He doesn’t even speak to Morton. He just shoots him up, pops in the video of Dick Jones, and moseys around before using his tongue to pull the pin out of the grenade that will bring the hotshot executive’s rise to an end. There is also that scene when he is arrested by Robocop and he spits blood onto the police desk at booking. Boddicker manages to be a one of a kind bad guy in this movie who is not simply ruthless and cutthroat but immature with a sexual streak that is surprising.

I am a huge fan of Ronny Cox playing the top dog villain. He has a very similar role in Verhoven’s other great 80’s sci-fi movie, Total Recall. In fact in that film he delivers one of my favorite lines of all time. His role in this movie was first and he was just warming up. He has such a professional look that makes him perfect for playing this type of executive part. He looks like the kind of guy you can trust, but he is as cutthroat and ruthless as the henchman in his employ. Having a villain like Clarence Boddicker under his thumb makes him even more of a badass. When Robocop comes to arrest him he is so cool as he casually approaches the situation. He planned ahead for the scenario and when the classified Primary Directive 4 takes effect he is ready. He has ED-209 waiting to beat up on Robocop while a battalion of cops are waiting in the parking lot to open fire on him. Dick Jones is a great bad guy because he’s a man with power, and he knows how to wield it to his advantage. A villain like him is as unpredictable as he is dangerous, is there anything more to love in a bad guy?

The strength of the bad guys in this movie only make the hero more thrilling and Robocop is an ultimate badass. This movie went against the grain when casting its hero not out of choice but out of need. In the era of StalloneSchwarzenegger action films the role of Robocop was highly coveted but neither would get the opportunity. Schwarzenegger specifically wanted the part but couldn’t be cast because he was physically too large for the suit. A smaller man was needed and Peter Weller was tapped for arguably the biggest role of his career. Weller is an incredibly accomplished man having received his doctorate degree a few years ago. However, after appearing in over 70 features this movie remains the one he is most famous for. Weller’s star has been rising over the last ten years though as he has been featured more prominently in both film and TV. In his older age he is more often cast as a bad guy but that is a role he has thrived in.

I’ve let this draft sit a bit too long at this point so I will just wrap it up here. This is an exceptional movie that still holds weight almost 30 years later. Despite multiple sequels and a reboot this movie still stands head and shoulders above the rest. While it has a silly portrayal of the future; you simply cannot challenge the quality of the story or film. This isn’t a movie for the tender-hearted but if you have an appetite for action and violence then this is something you definitely need to see. This movie is easily worth your time and it can surprise you.

NEXT MOVIE: Robocop (2014)

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Total Recall

Year: 1990
Directed By: Paul Verhoven
Written By: The original story was inspired by a short story by Phillip K. Dick and then there were several others.

RYAN’S REVIEW

We are on vacation right now and doing something out of the norm with the blog. As a onetime thing we are breaking the order of going through our collection as it sits on the shelf and reviewing a movie that normally wouldn’t come for a long time.  Since the remake of Total Recall is hitting theaters soon we felt this was a perfect time to make an exception. I’ll admit that the remake of this film does look really good, but this will really be a hard film to top.

I think this movie was ahead of its time in many ways.  It’s got a clever and twisted plot that has an interesting ability to suck the viewer in. That is the only reason I am interested in a remake.  This is the kind of movie that could be so much better had the actual technology of the future been incorporated into it.  I think the trailer for the new movie inspires a lot of hope, but as far as this one goes I think it is really interesting to see what they thought the future was going to offer.

I think this is easily one of the best movies Schwarzenegger made during his career.  In truth he made many great movies that I love dearly, but I do honestly think this one ranks right up there next to Terminator or PredatorThis movie is a nonstop thrill ride with plenty of twists and explosions, not to mention a lot of sex appeal (there is a chick with three boobs for crying out loud). That cast is great and the director was on a personal role at the time.  Paul Verhoven made Robocop prior to this film and one of my all time favorites after, Basic InstinctThose two and this film are all I will vouch for, but they are all three awesome.  I like these movies from Verhoven but his career went askew after Basic Instinct and since he has made many bust and even disasters (Starship Troopers).   I read once that Sharon Stone refused to show more of her body during a sex scene in this movie, and that Verhoven “got her back” in his next film.  I’ll admit a little nudity from Stone could have only made her part better but it was quite a role she played.  I have always been a big fan of Stone and I think she is great in this movie.  She is sinister and sexy.  The way she can change directions in an instant to try and manipulate Quaid is quite impressive.

I really like Ronny Cox and Michael Ironside as the bad guys.  Ronny Cox plays a much better bad guy than good guy in my opinion and this is a role he was perfect for.  When he chews out Rictor in his office for the first time he gave the performance of his career.  He is awesome in several movies though, I have always liked him. Bryan Cranston plays Cohaagen in the remake and I think he will be great in the role. Cranston has shown quite capable of playing a powerful villain as we have seen in Breaking Bad. Michael Ironside is an actor that was never used enough in my opinion.  He has such a nasty and serious look to him. I think he is great in the role of Rictor.

There is an incredible story to how this movie was actually made if I am not mistaken.  It was inspired by a short story by Phillip K Dick called “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.” Phillip K Dick of course is the writer that inspired movies such as Blade Runner and Minority Report. The movie was initially set with a different director and Patrick Swayze was attached to star.  Schwarzenegger had really wanted to play Robocop but was too large to fit the suit. He still wanted to work with Verhoven though and kept an eye out for something they could do together.  When he heard of this movie he thought it would be perfect for the two of them.  Now, if I remember correctly Schwarzenegger pretty much muscled this movie out the hands that it belonged in.  I remember specifically thinking there must be a fascinating story to the clout and power Schwarzenegger wielded during this time in the movie business.  What it must be like to actually be muscled by that guy, who would one day go on to become Governor of California.  Unfortunately this isn’t a topic of interest I ever followed up on but I suggest anybody interested look into it yourself.  There is a weird story behind the rights to this movie and how they were acquired.

This is an exciting movie that can suck the viewer in and the thrills keep coming for almost two hours.  This movie is somewhat outdated now but that doesn’t take away from its value. I think it is an incredible and cool action/sci-fi film, one of the best of an era.  I wasn’t thrilled to see Colin Farrell cast in the lead for the remake but I will give it a shot.  I don’t think this movie should have been remade because this one was awesome, but I do understand why they did it.  This movie is worth your time and you should definitely check it out before seeing the knock off version that will be hitting theaters soon.

AMBER REVIEW

I had never seen this movie before. As Ryan said above, we are on vacation. When we started watching this movie, I started drinking Skinnygirl Margaritas. (They are no joke, and apparently, I told Ryan as much “a million times”). In any case, I got immediately sucked in. I love the perception that the eighties had on what the future would hold. I think the writers of those movies just went wild with their imaginations instead of researching like most movies do today (i.e. I, Robot and Minority Report). We made it through half of this movie before I fell asleep and don’t remember the rest. We finally finished it yesterday. I was thoroughly impressed with this movie. I really liked it and I can’t wait for the new one. I hope that we have a chance to go to the theater and watch it.

 I kiiiiiinnnndddda like this design. I am struggling a little bit with it. It isn’t clean and is kind of cliché, but I guess it works for this movie. Arnold is all in focus on the front because he has such a recognizable face. The font is nice and extraterrestrial like which also works for the genre. Ehh, it’s alright I guess. I look forward to seeing the new one.

Basic Instinct

Year: 1992
Directed By: Paul Verhoven
Written By: Joe Eszterhas

RYAN’S REVIEW

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll.  Mix in murder, mystery, and psychology and you have made something people will definitely like.  It’s hard to narrow down movies you love the most when you love a lot of movies but this one falls within my top ten of all time. It is high up in my favorites, and has been for many years.  This movie is mysterious, it’s well made and acted, and it’s sexually charged in a way that gets everyone’s attention.  Some might call this a guilty pleasure but I don’t see the point in feeling guilty about something so good, it’s a great movie.

I like a few Paul Verhoven films but I think this was by far his best. He has a deliberately graphic style that I appreciate, especially today when so many sell out to make more money with a PG-13 rating.  Sharon Stone became a sex symbol with this film, and she deserved that status.  She was incredibly sexy and seductive as Catherine Tramell, she was bold and daring with the character. I am a big fan of Michael Douglas, I think he has made many great movies, but I think this one was his best as well.  He is ultra cool as Nick Curran, he keeps up with Sharon Stone which is a feat all by itself, and he was seeing his old flame on the side too.  Jeanne Tripplehorn, as the complete opposite of Sharon Stone brings her own sexual charge into the film and does it well.

This movie will keep you guessing and keep you interested with danger (and nudity) around every corner. I have heard there are controversies surrounding this film.  One being the way it portrays homosexual relationships, and the other being how it glorifies smoking.  As to the first criticism I don’t think it holds water.  Yeah Sharon Stone’s relationship with her girlfriend may not have been a peachy one but no relationship in the film was.  I don’t think that the fact that Tramell and her girlfriend were crazy says anything about homosexual relationships, those two characters are just wild and crazy in general. As to the other controversy I would ask you to excuse a vulgar gesture simulating masturbation. Smoking was something people did and do.  It shouldn’t be a problem that Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone happen to look especially cool doing it.  Smoking may be unhealthy, we should not do it, but it is still cool all the same.  I dare you to watch the characters in this film smoking and tell me they don’t look good doing it.  As I have said before, looking cool is important to any film no matter what the genre is.  I am a non smoker now, and feel much better living a smoke free life but I really hate the way society has turned on tobacco all the same, it’s unjust.  That product helped build this country, and has a long history in North America.

If you haven’t seen this movie then I think you should see it, and I hope you enjoy it.  It earned its R rating and was lucky that it wasn’t banned all together so understand that going in.  Don’t be surprised by sudden and overwhelming sexuality.  This movie is one of my favorites of all time, it’s dangerous, exciting, and unpredictable. It might not be for everyone, but I hope that you enjoy it if you take the time to see it.  Let me know what you think about this one, I would really appreciate your thoughts on this film specifically.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I remember the first time I watched this movie. It was with Ryan, and I remember feeling really uncomfortable. We were pretty young when we first started dating and now the memory makes me chuckle a little, considering the types of movies we have watched together since then. Having said all that, I really like this movie. I love it. If you haven’t seen it you are missing out on something really intriguing and thought provoking. It is such a thriller because you almost never know what is around the corner. Both Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas look so young and vivacious in this film. You get to see a lot of their bodies, so be prepared for that. There is a lot of sex in this movie, so if you are squeamish about that kind of thing, maybe this isn’t the movie for you, but it adds a lot to the movie, however and makes it that much better. It is suspenseful and thrilling and the ending is just perfect. A must see in my book.

NEXT MOVIE: Batman: The Movie (1966)