Robocop

Robocop (2014)

Year: 2014
Directed By: Jose Padiha
Written By: Joshua Zetumer, Edward Zeumeier, and Michael Miner

RYAN’S REVIEW 

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.

PART 1

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.

PART 2

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)

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)