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Thursday, February 13, 2014

ROBOCOP (2014): Would You Buy That for $11.50? (More Than a Dollar)

The lead up to the Robocop remake has been an internet stoning filled with unbased opinions (or at least based on a trailer alone), nostalgia LSD trips and great moments of illogical games of the card game War involving the sharing of a distaste for the color black, the rating PG-13 and the letter and number combination E,D,2,0,9. The wait may be over, but the opinions, based, unbased (baseless for folks who are counting) and illogical continue, but one thing that has become abundantly clear is that here's a $100 million flick out in the theaters (on the eve of yet another blizzard event in the North East), and you either want to know if you need to break out the Huskies, whisky and snow shoes to make it to your local theater. I want to break this down a little different. Let's laundry list it out, so that there's no mistaking what the Hell I'm saying about the new Robocop because I'm not even sure my opinion will matter on this one since so many minds are already made up.

Story: It's the tale of a police officer having his body decimated in the line of duty by a big bad baddie only to return as the titular Cop o' Robotics, Robocop. Of course there's plenty of political subtext, moral and social dilemmas and, in this version, an element of the philosophical (like Wall-E or I Robot). Is it that somewhat camp, futuristic, visual fest of the original with lite romance between Nancy Allen and Peter Weller? To answer your question... neither actor is in the film, this isn't the original movie. Different feel and story but preserves the basic concept but asks unique questions.

Violence/Gore: Gun and explosion violence with minimal blood. Yeah, it's not X rated, but since you spent all your time worrying about that in your social network posts you should be comfortable with that aspect by now. What may surprise you is that while the scenes of intense violence that forced the MPAA's hand in the 80's are clearly not present there's actually some icky shit on the screen. Take for instance when Robocop is stripped down out of body armor and mechanical armatures (yes you see that!). It's actually off-putting. It's not the toxic sludge, Peter Weller as a chocolate chip cookie of bullets, and it's dominated by computer graphics, but at least it's wet (sloppy inside bits on par with what you may have seen in Hannibal).

Sexy Time: It's PG-13. Watch YouPorn on your phone in the theater in the backrow. Bring your robo-tissues. It ain't happening. This isn't a sexy movie, and even though there's an element of romance to the film it's actually deeper (yes, a deeper Robo movie). By the by, if you're watching YouPorn in the back row, you either ask the person next to you what kind of sex they enjoy watching or risk a tap from the cinema manager (literally or figuratively, you do not want that). I suggest something with a Sibian (Roboporn).

Action/Fight Sequences: There are plenty of 'em  (fight scenes), and all enjoyable. Not entirely generic. Too much camera shake (that's the style these days). Not nearly as violent or creative as the original movie, and to the seasoned action fan you'll say that you've been there, done that.

CGI: Better than video game quality. Perhaps better than some practical effects might have worked in this day and age. The ED bots don't look great, but all effects involving Robo work perfectly and left me immersed in the picture. Glad they didn't fuck this up with 3-D. Aside from the CG the black Robocop, tactical didn't sit well with me. The silver was a better choice, and you'll see how that all plays out in the movie.

Acting: You deserve a better actor to play Robocop, but Samuel L. Jackson (or is it Lawrence Fishburne these days?), Michael Keaton and Gary Oldman more than make up for your leading man's inadequacies. Besides, the lead is covered in armor the whole time. Tune him out as un-Robocop, and wait for the transformation. Jackie Lee Haley is a funny guy who can creep you out, then get your smile going then make you feel dirty. His performance surprised me (I didn't realize he was in the movie). Yeah, Weller and Allen can be considered Robocop and perhaps inseparable from the roles they portrayed, but with the story tacking some unique turns, the newly developed characters fill in the blanks. Perhaps the greatest gap is the lack of Dan O'Herlihy (Halloween III and the head of OCP in the original Robo). You can't find a replacement for this fella. Also, there is no way in Hell that someone was going to out due Kurtwood Smith's Clarence Boddicker. If there was a true negative remark to be stated about the new Robocop it's that they were unable to fill this character gap, partially because the sadism had to be toned down for rating reasons and because the focus is less on the Boddicker type as the primary villain. His replacement is expendable.

Music: The original score is resurrected with liberties taken. This is important. It's as important as using the original OCP logo. Glad they decided to go with this approach. It gives you that raised arm hair effect.

Homage to the original: There are plenty of catch phrases and effects that pay proper respect to the original. Only one or two so obvious that they might be considered distracting.

I enjoyed the remake of Robocop. I missed the gore of the original, but in place of it they held me with some funny moments and some damn good CG (to my everloving surprise). This is as much a human story as it is a robot story. Perhaps a real cyborg picture. I prefer the original when comparing the two, but as separate movies they are both entertaining. The proper respects were paid to the original movie though the stop motion being absent removed some camp classic moments. It's a good theater movie with plenty of size and sound to fill an auditorium with enough boom for your buck. Yeah, $11.50 is a lot of money to dish out on just any movie though I realize it's the going rate, but when it takes $2 to buy a good hot dog from a good ol' Jersey vendor, I'd buy Robocop for nearly six hot dogs.

Oh and as always, watch movies, not status updates.

-Doc Terror

2 comments:

  1. Kudos to you sir! I've been searching for a REAL review of the film all day. I'm not going to be able to catch it until either the weekend or possibly Monday. I'm glad to hear that it's a good flick!

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  2. Glad to know that I'm not the only one that enjoyed it. So tired of the old "OMG Remakes MUST be terrible!" mentality. Go Internet!

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