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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Good News: RoboCop Isn't Bad Enough to Make You Mad!

Posted by on Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 8:24 AM


We have now reached the point in Remake Culture where I can write this sentence without meaning it to be an insult: When the credits rolled, I was happy to notice that I wasn't pissed at the new RoboCop remake. This doesn't mean that the RoboCop remake is a good movie (the first half is pretty okay) or that it's worth your time (the second half is very boring) but I'm happy to note that it didn't actively make me angry. It's not a work of absolute ineptitude, and it's not completely stupid. But it doesn't make a convincing case for its own existence, either.

RoboCop opens by clearly explaining what the new version of the film is all about: drone warfare. A Glenn Beck-like American news show host in the near future (a delightful Samuel L. Jackson) shows us a scene in Tehran, where armies of American robots are keeping the peace by turning anyone with a weapon into a fine red mist and scanning everyone else into submission. Jackson's character is agitating on behalf of robot-making company OmniCorp to bring peace-keeping robots to the United States, but a pesky national anti-drone law keeps the robots in every country but our own. How does OmniCorp convince the American people that they need to be policed by robots? What if you...combined...a human police officer with a robot, somehow?

You know the drill. This time around, Alex Murphy is played by Joel Kinnaman, and his performance doesn't have the wryness of Peter Weller's RoboCop, but he does okay. A few of the more comic-booky scenes early in the movie are really quite inventive, especially the unveiling of how much of RoboCop really is human, and the cast is very strong. Michael Keaton, as the CEO of OmniCorp, reminds us that there's not nearly enough Michael Keaton in modern-day cinema. Even as he repeatedly refers to RoboCop as a product rollout, like a new kind of iPhone, Keaton's twitchiness comes less from a place of smarm and more from a place of intense self-observation. He's the kind of bad guy you want to keep around as long as possible, just to watch him squirm when everything goes south. And Gary Oldman is solid in a very strange role: His Dr. Dennett Norton is at once the Doctor Frankenstein who creates RoboCop and the Doctor Feelgood who keeps him pacified. In some scenes, he's expected to be the heart and soul of the movie, but at other times, he's basically committing lobotomies to keep the money for his precious research flowing in. As far as moral centers go, Norton is as hollow as they come.

Most of the problems with RoboCop come in the second hour. Director José Padilha does an admirable job of finding new and interesting ways to display an iconic figure of 1980s cinema, but his action scenes are total fucking messes. And the second half of the movie is supposed to be all action, with RoboCop out for revenge against the people who tried to kill him. All the character motivations up to this point get thrown out the window, and the movie becomes as generic as any other remake you've seen in the past decade. And there is no scene in this RoboCop that is anywhere near as fun as the 1987 original. If you're making a movie about techno fascists and American imperialism in the form of a robot cop adventure, you at the very least owe us a few great thrilling scenes. This new RoboCop, unfortunately, fails to give us even one memorable thrill.


Comments (7) RSS

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Joe Szilagyi 1
Would you buy it for a dollar?
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on February 12, 2014 at 8:58 AM · Report this
fletc3her 2
I actually liked the idea of a remake of this particular movie, mostly because I enjoyed some scenes from RoboCop a great deal, but felt that Verhoeven took the action parts of the movie so over the top that it became a mess. I think it would be interesting to see another take on it. Given the state of drone warfare and the use of technology by law enforcement it does seem rather topical as well.
Posted by fletc3her on February 12, 2014 at 9:04 AM · Report this
brandon 3
That's like saying the sushi gave me horrible food poisoning but at least I didn't shit myself.
Posted by brandon on February 12, 2014 at 10:15 AM · Report this
Okay, so Total Recall got a remake. Robocop got a remake. In 2011, Neal Moritz announced plans for a Starship Troopers remake.

When do we get a Showgirls remake?
Posted by Ben on February 12, 2014 at 12:10 PM · Report this
#2: The action is fantastic in the original Robocop imo. The only exception is the cocaine-processing factory shootout. That's a bit much. But the rest of the action scenes are pretty great.
Posted by Jizzlobber on February 12, 2014 at 12:39 PM · Report this
JonnoN 6
@1 LOL

robocop 3 had Steven Root and CCH Pounder, bring them back for the sequel remake :)
Posted by JonnoN on February 12, 2014 at 12:52 PM · Report this
@4 Funny you should mention "Starship Troopers".

This Robocop remake reminded me a lot of it, and I mean that primarily in a good way.
Posted by Starring As Zorg In The Novak Element on February 13, 2014 at 9:00 AM · Report this

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