RoboCop actually isn’t that bad of a movie and taken on its own, it’s at least enjoyable enough. However, unlike its 1987 counterpart, it’s unlikely to be remembered years from now and like Total Recall (a movie I actually liked), will be a mere footnote alongside so many other remakes and reboots. This one has a few things going for it from an eclectic cast to wonderful production design and cinematography.
Genre(s): Action, Science Fiction, Crime
Fox | PG13 – 117 min. – $39.99 | June 3, 2014
THE MOVIE – 3.25/5
Another remake. Blah blah. Hollywood is creatively bankrupt. Blah blah blah. Seriously, at this point, why expend anymore energy fretting about it?
The story opens in the year 2028 where worldwide OmniCorp patrol the streets and keep the rule of law at hand, run with an iron fist and assessing threats person by person. But while its worldwide market is rising, CEO Raymond Sellars (MICHAEL KEATON) is unable to get his robots on American streets courtesy of a ban sponsored by Senator Hubert Dreyfus (played by character actor ZACH GRENIER)
Meanwhile, Detroit Detective Alex Murphy (JOEL KINNEMAN) who, along with his partner Jack Lewis (MICHAEL K. WILLIAMS), attempts to take down crime lord Antoine Vallan (PATRICK GARROW) but for his efforts, and with the help of a couple dirty cops, he gets a car bomb which leaves him clinging to life. Murphy’s wife, Clara (ABBIE CORNISH), reluctantly takes up the offer by OmniCorp and with the help of Dr. Dennett Norton (GARY OLDMAN), outfits Murphy with a robotic body – as only his face, brain, lungs and a hand survived – and computer programming that is able to access records, CCTV footage and facial recognition to find and capture the scum on the streets of crime ridden Detroit.
However, his service serves more than one purpose beyond saving his life and fighting crime, OmniCorp hopes having the public see a man inside a robotic suit will swing public opinion around that would eventually lead to robots patrolling the streets and thus also having a multi-million dollar influx into the company.
The first part of the movie deals with Murphy getting used to his new life, adjusting the various functions and some general training held in China before going back stateside and eventually reconnecting with his family, a difference, my recollection anyway, from the original version where the wife didn’t know her husband survived, a change I actually liked here, giving a more emotional center to both characters.
The second half finds Dr. Norton, as Murphy’s emotions become unstable just before he’s set to be introduced to the masses, more or less removing Murphy’s dopamine noradrenalin levels (and yes, I had to refer back to the movie to get those terms) which in effect takes away Murphy’s emotions, turning him into a zombie or, if you will, a robot… ZING! But ultimately his humanity still remains somewhat intact as he attempts to solve his own attempted murder, going after the crime lord and the dirty cops.
There is an additional twist in the plot but if you’ve seen the original (classic), that has remained intact but was not the most skillfully revealed and almost was clunky and not very effective.
Alright, I’ll admit, RoboCop 2014 along with 2012’s Total Recall might’ve been pointless remakes but I actually didn’t mind either one taking on their own or doing too much comparison with the originals. And to their credit, the remakes try to bring something different to the table, now whether or not it works, as with any movie, is up the viewer and for me, I didn’t mind the changes. This isn’t to say RoboCop is a great movie or even a good one, but it’s marginally entertaining if not also a film that, unlike the original, will not be remembered (fondly or with venom) years from now.
In regards to the performances, the filmmakers certainly put together a well respected cast: first Joel Kinnaman who made a name for himself in North America with “The Killing” isn’t bad as Murphy/RoboCop though additional movies (which likely will never happen) would go far in helping establish the character; Gary Oldman of course is incredible no matter the role and at least here he gets a fair amount of screen time (and seeing the best actor to play Batman and the best actor to play Gordon is a treat); Michael Keaton has made somewhat of a comeback of late with Toy Story 3 and Need for Speed (which itself was a box office flop) and here he’s more or less your typical villain but having someone of Keaton’s stature certainly lends depth to an otherwise bland character; Abbie Cornish meanwhile as Murphy’s wife provides the more (and much needed) personal emotional element and while I doubt this will be a highlight in her career, she has some nice moments with Kinnaman.
Other notable appearances include Jackie Earle Haley playing the usual jackass villain sidekick; Jennifer Ehle is the corporate lackey; Jay Baruchel, in between flying with dragons, gets the pulse of the public about robotic security; and then there’s good ole’ Samuel L. Jackson who steals the few scenes he’s in as a loudmouth (think MSNBC’s Al Sharpton meets FNC’s Sean Hannity) and overall mouthpiece for OmniCorp portraying the injustice of the Dreyfus Act.
RoboCop was directed by Brazilian filmmaker Jose Padilha marking his first foray into Hollywood and if the Internet rumors are to be trusted, and why wouldn’t they be, the experience was hardly ideal with studio interference, an out of control budget and having to work in the parameters of a PG-13 rating versus the R rating as scripted and planned. And despite all that, Padilha doesn’t do that bad of a job bringing some cool style – with help by production designer Martin Whist (Super 8, Warm Bodies) and cinematographer Lula Carvalho (upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) – and at least an attempt at an emotional core amongst the violence and mayhem.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.5/5
This release comes with a semi-glossy slip cover. Inside contains a redemption code for the Digital Copy and a standard DVD Copy.
Deleted Scenes (3:59; HD) include five scenes that are fairly inconsequential and were rightfully removed.
OmniCorp Product Announcement (3:27; HD) contain presentations for the various weapons and robots in the companies arsenal.
RoboCop: Engineered for the 21st Century (28:47; HD) – In this three-part featurette, this looks at adapting the classic movie and changing for the current times. It contains some basic interviews with the cast and crew as they give the usual spiel.
Also included are two Theatrical Trailers (each 2:12, HD).
Previews – X-Men: Days of Future Past, 3 Days to Kill
VIDEO – 4.75/5
RoboCop (2014) shoots and asks questions later onto Blu-ray with an excellent 1080p high-definition transfer (AVC codec) and presented in its original theatrical 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio. The picture features sharp detail levels, some natural grain or noise and colors appear to be spot-on, bright and full of life during the daylight shots. The dark scenes, such as when RoboCop goes after the crime lord, show no signs of artifacts or compression issues. Simply, it’s a damn pretty looking transfer.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
I was a bit disappointed this release didn’t get a 7.1 channel audio, but the 5.1 DTS-HD MA lossless track is more than serviceable showcasing the quieter, more dialogue-driven scenes, to the numerous action sequences with sporadic gunfire to go along with composer Pedro Bromfman’s generic score (save for the reused theme early on). It’s not perfect and not quite reference material but shows some depth and all in all, is a fine track.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Overall, RoboCop actually isn’t that bad of a movie and taken on its own, it’s at least enjoyable enough. However, unlike its 1987 counterpart, it’s unlikely to be remembered years from now and like Total Recall (a movie I actually liked), will be a mere footnote alongside so many other remakes and reboots. This one has a few things going for it from an eclectic cast to wonderful production design and cinematography. The Blu-ray released by Fox offers up excellent video/audio transfers while the features are limited.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.