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RoboCop review: I will notify a cinema crisis center

RoboCop red light Joel Kinnaman

No black humor. No satire. No point. But hey, check out the 1987 catchphrases dropped in at random!
I’m “biast” (pro): love the original…

I’m “biast” (con): …but saw little point in remaking it

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

I was not feeling optimistic about any reboot or remake of Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop, which is still brutally relevant 27 years on. Could anyone find a good reason to update this flick when the original still has the power to shock us today? And then this new RoboCop opens in “sunny Tehran,” where “random patrols” by ED-209s, unmanned walking tactical tanks, and EM-208s, android soldiers, keep the peace as part of the U.S.’s “Operation Freedom Tehran,” which makes the good people of the city feel safe and secure, we’re informed by a blowhard conservative TV host gleefully sharing this “success story” with the American people. Except we can see, during the chipper American news broadcast live from the scene, that the good people of Tehran feel nothing of the kind: there is fear in their eyes; they are literally terrorized.

I’m still astonished at what happens next: a few of the good people of Tehran take action to demonstrate just how unhappy they are with giant scary heavily armed robots walking their streets. Stunned, I thought this: Did this movie just make Iranian suicide bombers look sympathetic? Even more stunned, I went on to think this: Wait, did somebody find a reason to update RoboCop for today, as a commentary on America’s current drone warfare?

Except… no. I now wonder whether there was any intent at satire or sympathy at all in that opening gambit. Maybe it was just a reason to get some way-cool ED-209s into the action. Because the story here is about how evil corporation OmniCorp — which makes the military robots — plans to circumvent a U.S. law against using robot law enforcement on U.S. soil by putting a man, or at least what’s left of a man, into one of their EM-208s. So there wasn’t really gonna be much of an opportunity otherwise to see some geek-favorite robots play here.

But here’s the other thing: OmniCorp may be evil, but it hardly feels satirical today. Drone warfare is happening, for real right now, in the Middle East and north Africa, so Operation Freedom Tehran is barely an extrapolation the way that “We’re predicting the end of crime in Old Detroit within 40 days” was in the original film. Privatizing a public service like the police in a major American city was scary speculation in 1987; today privatization of lots of services is a done deal, and no one seems to have any issue with it here. The obnoxious right-wing TV host here — Pat Novak, played by a mostly wasted Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained, Marvel’s The Avengers) — is Rush Limbaugh in a better suit; there’s nothing in the least bit satirical about him as he bloviates at his audience and sings the praises of OmniCorp.

Where is the black humor any decent reboot of RoboCop should have? Where is the satire? What is the point of it? This is like a movie from within the dystopian world of 1987’s RoboCop, in which there’s no question that turning men into machines for the supposed greater good is the right thing to do — there’s just the press release to be sent and the commercial to be shot.

Unless newbie screenwriter Joshua Zetumer and director José Padilha are trying to say that America is now truly beyond satire, I see no reason for this movie to exist.

Ah, but Padilha — who, in his native Brazil, made the pointless, unoriginal, yet enthusiastically violent Elite Squad — doesn’t seem to care much about anything except staging some frenetic action scenes. The violence of the 1987 film was part of its satire, and was so graphic that it prompted questions as to whether its R rating was too lenient. Here, the violence is tedious, bloodless in all senses of the word, and PG-13-“safe” — some of it we get to see through RoboCop’s heads-up visual display, so it really is like watching a videogame. Hooray? And so the plot seems unnecessarily convoluted for more reasons than one: those who just want to watch a videogame won’t care, and those who are looking for some sharp drama will be enraged. After what’s left of Detroit cop Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman: Lola Versus, Safe House) is shoved into the robot body by OmniCorp R&D scientist Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman: The Dark Knight Rises, Lawless) — his wife volunteers him after he receives such terrible (yet PG-13) injuries that he will not otherwise live — one of the dumbest forced plot points I’ve ever seen is required to get the supposedly interesting debate going about how much of a man OmniCorp actually wants in its new toy. This involves Norton and OmniCorp CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton:The Other Guys, Post Grad) yelling at each other for a while. (More missing satire: Padilha doesn’t seem to realize that both men are quite insane. Except insanity is the new normal.) Later, the frantic finale is driven by a piece of evidence that Murphy supposedly unearths about the crime that caused his injuries, but we’re never told what that evidence is or why it leads him where it does. While everyone is racing around onscreen, it was all I could do to not yell out, “But why?!”

Poor Abbie Cornish (Seven Psychopaths, Sucker Punch) as Murphy’s wife, Clara. She doesn’t have much to do but stand around looking weepy, and also to resolutely ignore the fact that her once tall handsome fleshly husband is now nothing more than a head in a jar. There’s a bit of body horror here — when we see what’s left of Murphy under the titanium casing — but no pathos about it. And yet there’s clearly meant to be, because Padilha makes a big deal out of how Alex and Clara are interrupted as they’re starting to make love by the thing that leaves him near death. She copes with her new reality — and her husband’s — in a preposterously saintly and noble way.

And have we really regressed so far that the notion of a tough female cop is no longer plausible? Nancy Allen’s Office Anne Lewis — the 1987 Murphy’s former partner — has here been replaced by Michael K. Williams’ (The Road, Miracle at St. Anna) Jack Lewis… and poor him: he’s barely a character at all.

One might, blissfully, be able to forget that this has any connection whatsoever to one of the greatest science fiction films ever made… until Zetumer tosses in, with no appreciation for sense or context, snatches of dialogue from the original film. When Murphy says to a bad guy at the end of the film, “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me,” it means nothing: he hasn’t said it before, and it has no significance like it did for the other Alex Murphy. When another character mentions that he “wouldn’t buy that for a dollar,” it references absolutely nothing here. All it makes us think, unfortunately, is, Oh, yeah, that other RoboCop movie is awesome.

US/Canada release date: Feb 12 2014 | UK release date: Feb 7 2014

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated WNBFAD (would not buy for a dollar)
MPAA: rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action including frenetic gun violence throughout, brief strong language, sensuality and some drug material
BBFC: rated 12A (contains moderate violence, injury detail and infrequent strong language)

viewed in 2D IMAX
viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes
  • Henrique Rodrigues

    “Did this movie just make Iranian suicide bombers looksympathetic?”
    “Ah, but Padilha — who, in his native Brazil, made the pointless, unoriginal, yet enthusiastically violent Elite Squad”

    O.M.G.
    I would tell you to quit your job, but I think you should probably quit life.

  • GeeksAreMyPeeps

    Gotta love SLJ’s quote on this: “I was a huge fan of the original. And
    when I heard they were making a remake, I wondered why. I read it. Still
    didn’t know why.”

  • Tonio Kruger

    As a fan of the Ellison and Bova novella “Brillo”, one of the unacknowledged “inspirations” for the original movie, it’s tempting to say, “What goes around comes around.”

    Then again, it is difficult to think of many recent movie remakes that actually equal the original, much less improve on it.

  • Tonio Kruger

    “Why?” is what I said about the first movie…

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    And yet he took the job anyway…

  • RogerBW

    The original film is all about a good man being (physically) corrupted by the corporation. That this should be the new version seems strangely fitting.

  • Paul

    “No satire. No point.”. You should really watch this movie again.
    Plus, comparing the two versions is a mistake. This new one is a very different take on the original. It is obviously not as good, and there are a few references, these are the only points of comparison you can make. The movie was quite good! It’s down to taste, but when you see all the crap Hollywood makes nowadays, you really can’t say this is bad.

  • MisterAntrobus

    I was at the age of reading MAD magazine avidly when the original movie was released, and I still remember the title of their spoof: “RoboCrap.” Looks like the remake producers must have taken that to heart.

  • Haruhi Suzumiya

    Whyw ouldn’t he? He’d get paid big bucks to do so. Plus its Robocop. I can understand turning down a 50cent mvoie which glorifies gangster rap lifestyle, but perhaps SLJ wanted to take a job to honour the original.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    Can you explain what you found “good” about this film?

    comparing the two versions is a mistake.

    They should have called the movie something else, then.

  • Anonymous

    It looked bad as soon as Padilla started talking to websites about what he would do if he directed the movie. It was like he was pitching his idea to the audience. Most directors embarking on a project that they know is going to be good are very secretive about the project. Not Padilla, before he was even hired he is saying how he’d like to direct it and what his Robocop would be about if he were picked to direct it.

  • borg453

    I’m a huge fan of the original and verhovens starship troopers, so it was with a fair share of scepticism I went to the cinema last weekend, but I was pleasantly surprised.

    I think your review is onesided, and you may want to look up the term “Satire”. How’s that for criticism? ;D

    When dealing with remakes, there’s no getting around comparing the offshot with the original; but this shouldn’t blind you in the process.

    First off – it’s clear that the movie does not attempt to replicate the original scene by scene. It tells it’s own story; in its own tone – and this was, perhaps, the biggest relief. One cannot easily mimick verhoeven – so the script and director doesnt try.

    Lets get right to it: (Spoiler alert)

    Like Verhoevens movie, this movie is political; and it deals with complex issues:

    - The interplay between law, capitalism, ethics and morality.
    - Where do the enforcers and the citizens fit into all of this.
    - What does it mean to be human
    - What happens when you extract the individual and the human element from enforcement, conflict and war – and why would you want to?

    While a lot of the characters in the original Robocop are satirical – greed and corruption clearly personified – the portrayals in the remake are murkier.

    The new CEO, the marketing department, the scientists and the engineers are all highly questionable – but they’re not classic villains. The issues at hand are more complex than “good vs. evil”.

    (This i not to say I accept the CEO’s attempted murder – but just that his perspective is treated with some reflection. He sees Alex Murphy as a product and an asset; and a disposable one at that. Perhaps, to him, his sacrifice is a means to an end: Granted, profit – but perhaps also, what he believes is a better tomorrow).

    Likewise, the scientist goes through the process of helping cripples, to paving the way for drone enforcement – to refuse the murder of a man despite the lure of further financial freedom for his research – and the lulling of his own conscience (having Murphy’s wife and kid set for life).

    “Did this movie just make Iranian suicide bombers look sympathetic?”

    To understand something, you have to relate to it. It’s very convenient for us all to just say “suicide bombing is evil” – but doesn’t make us any wiser about the subject matter.

    Why, then was this hot potato brought into contemporary entertainment?

    Because the movie is political; and because the drone discourse demands an understanding of why we’re investing in automated systems, to shield ourselves from “messy death”.

    - We quit wars when we lose sufficient amounts of countrymen.

    - Robots or drones are not mourned, do not question orders, nor do they suffer from post-traumatic stress or become embittered veterans (whether fighting wars or keeping the peace at home).

    - However: someone still dies; and in the desperation of war peers or family may feel forced to resort to the unthinkable, because their conflict immediate and not mediated through technology.

    (Necessary disclaimer: I do _not_ condone acts of terror)

    If you think mass-surveillance, mediated warfare and capitalistic-political dynamics are not worth addressing.. then I don’t what to tell you.

    “one of the dumbest forced plot points I’ve ever seen is required to get the supposedly interesting debate going about how much of a man OmniCorp actually wants in its new toy.”

    But that was exactly the point: Robocop is a PR product. So from the CEO’s perspective, its all a big sales stunt, to get his automated drones going. The performance issue then ties in with the problem man vs. machine & efficiency.

    They want a machine that looks part man; but without “baggage” of humanity: and this, I think, leads to the scariest, most daring and most successful part of the remake:

    Alex Murphy wakes as a man (albeit a fragmented man); questions what it means to be a man – and is then stripped down to an automaton. He’s even given the illusion of free will.

    (Props for referencing important figures in the Hard IA philosophy discourse (Dreyfuss, Dennet etc.))

    The original Alex Murphy was resurrected as a machine, but regained his humanity throughout the narrative.

    Yes – Verhoeven works with the very same themes, but I thought the reversal was fresh and gutsy.

    As for Nancy – yes – I missed her too – but Alex’s wife takes to role of the protagonists tie to humanity; and she also enacts the citizen that stands up against the corporation.

    And yes: I did feel Samuel J. was a bit over the top, despite his deserved jab at contemporary media.

    As for the PG13 issue: It was a problem for me as well, but I understand that his is a Hollywood premise. If this is the price I pay for clever, gutsy, big-budget scifi – so be it.

    I didn’t miss the dark humor – perhaps because that has a special place in Verhoevens universe. Any attempt at it, I think, would have fallen flat.

    This will never replace the original – and for what it’s worth, I didn’t feel it tried to.

    Personally, I now enjoy having two different Robocop movies (just as I enjoy having different takes on batman, bond, Star trek etc) – and that’s more than what I would have said, just a week ago.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Color me utterly unsurprised. Robocop has long been a franchise that just wouldn’t die. The last (and only other) time it had any of the satirical bite that made it worth remembering at all was Robocop 2. And even that was mostly a bloated, watered down mess.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    To be fair, the scriptwriter is at least equally culpable here.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    I think your review is one-sided, and you may want to look up the term “Satire”. How’s that for criticism? ;D

    That’s not criticism. I know perfectly well what satire means. You suggest you see satire here. Could you tell me where?

    this movie is political; and it deals with complex issues:

    Nope. It broaches complex issues, and then ignores them.

    It’s very convenient for us all to just say “suicide bombing is evil” – but doesn’t make us any wiser about the subject matter.

    I agree. I think you misunderstood the point I was making with the Iranian suicide bomber thing: I think it’s a very daring — and important — thing the film did there. But then it did not follow through on that.

    Why, then was this hot potato brought into contemporary entertainment?

    I have no problem with a “hot potato brought into contemporary entertainment.” I welcome it. But this movie does nothing with it.

    If you think mass-surveillance, mediated warfare and capitalistic-political dynamics are not worth addressing.. then I don’t what to tell you.

    Perhaps you haven’t been hanging around here very long. I discuss such things frequently. This movie does not “address” them: it merely references hints of them without having anything significant or interesting to add to any intelligent conversation about them.

    I don’t condone “acts of terror,” either. But I was intrigued that a Hollywood film might be trying to get Americans to appreciate that one person’s “act of terror” is another one’s “blow for freedom.” But for this to have worked, we would have needed to see what RoboCop’s impact on Detroit is. How does the public feel about him? There is NO sense of how the American contemporaries of those people in Tehran react once they find themselves in a similar situation, policed by robots.

    This new *RoboCop* is startlingly myopic.

    But that was exactly the point: Robocop is a PR product

    Yes. Exactly. So why the hell, mere *moments* before a vitally important (to OmniCorp) PR event introducing RoboCop to the press and the public, is Norton trying something so radically new that he *must* have known it would be risky: downloading the entire Detroit police database into Alex’s head? *That’s* the stupid plot point I was referring to, because it’s only *here* that Norton must suddenly behave in a way contrary to how he has behaved before and insist that Alex’s higher brain functions be “turned off” (because his brain can’t handle the download). It’s like the film only accidentally stumbles upon the thing that you say — and which the film also bizarrely believes — it was aiming at from the beginning, the machine that’s a man yet not a man.

    Alex’s wife takes to role of the protagonist’s tie to humanity

    She is far too unbelievably saintly to be a stand-in for us. She does not behave in any realistic way beyond the early part of the film.

    I see nothing clever or gutsy here. I see a standard 21st-century action movie with some topical tinsel hung on it.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Plus, comparing the two versions is a mistake.

    When you do a straight remake like this, comparisons are inevitable, entirely fair, and I would even go so far as to say demanded. If you want to avoid that you have to change the title, the setting, some of the plot details. Casablanca, Yojimbo, and The Seven Samurai have all been remade a few times each this way.

  • borg453

    Yes – I’m new here.

    Reading your review was my first impression of your site. I was reading reviews after seeing the film, as I often do – and then, about a day later, google Now suggested your review, so I ended up here.

    Normally, I would just have passed on by, but I honestly felt that your review was so negatively weighted, that I had to add my own assessment.

    This is not to say that I don’t enjoy reading a “quality beating” of a poor movie; but I didn’t think this film deserved it.

    The movie seems to try to wrap the narrative around a lot of issues; and several are superficially adressed – but like with other narratives, you can only work with so much.

    You could accuse it of wanting to do too much; at the expense of depth – but given it’s an action movie; I felt it balanced out.

    “But I was intrigued that a Hollywood film might be trying to get Americans to appreciate that one person’s “act of terror” is another one’s “blow for freedom.” But for this to have worked, we would have needed to see what RoboCop’s impact on Detroit is.”

    I’d argue that point is exactly that we do not see the drones at home.. It’s a tragedy -because- we know what’s coming. We can forsee the dystopian scenario, while the public is blind to the looming panopticon and automated enforcement.

    The impending dystopia is hinted in robocops instant access to personal information (eg. when Robocop discovers the crooks attempt at deception), the facial recognition in the crowd. The pace as which robocop cooly zips in and out to deliver “justice”; to the point where takes on a near-judge dredd-like manner in his own police department.

    Why would you want to see the impending drone patrols? – You know their arrival is the inevitable step, upon public acceptance of the promise of a “safer tomorrow” (as the film also nods to national security agencies).

    “So why the hell, mere *moments* before a vitally important (to OmniCorp) PR event introducing RoboCop to the press and the public, is Norton trying something so radically new that he *must* have known it would be risky: downloading the entire Detroit police database into Alex’s head?”

    This was the biggest plothole to me – and something I also complained about, after seeing it.

    However, at this point the film has already argued that Robocops humanity is drastically reduced (by being is completely “overridden” (in combat mode), to meet the requirements set by Norton’s boss. His free will is reduced a delusion ( that some would argue we all suffer). His emotional response is cleansed , leaving an automated husk – oblivious to his family.

    But yes – probabably not the face you’d want for a PR stunt.. so that annoyed me as well; in the continuety.

    Still, Norton has been pressured – and falls – doing thing’s we imagine lies far from his principles.

    Also; I dont think the movie proposes to have the answers of what it means to be human – it hints at perspectives and standpoints – and I love that ambiguity – because it IS complex.. and we don’t need monologues or exposition to spell that out. If you catch all the little hints, you get to be along for the ride.. but it seems like the movie not trying to hold you too much by the hand (for a hollywood movie) – and I love that.

    As for alex’s wife – the initial portrayal is his internalized version of her. And the movie almost seems portrays her from his eyes, throughout. Idealized.

    Arguably there’s not a lot of meat on the character

    As the doors closes on alex and his family; you know things will never go back to the way they were.

    So there’s no real happy ending there.. nor would we want there to be.

    For what’s its worth – I appreciate when people are passionate about movies, even when I do not agree with them ;) (and I also happen to be a dr. Who fan).

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    I had to add my own assessment.

    That’s not a problem at all! I really appreciate that you explained why you disagree with me. Most readers don’t bother to do that.

    But we *are* going to have to disagree. :->

    It’s a tragedy -because- we know what’s coming. We can forsee the dystopian scenario, while the public is blind to the looming panopticon and automated enforcement.

    I don’t see how you can argue that there are any assumptions to be made about this. Not when so many Americans *right now* — in the real world — seem totally fine with the total-surveillance near police state we are already living in. There’s so little extrapolation here, and so little reaction to what *is* here, that I honestly have no idea what the film is trying to say. If anything.

  • Dingo Egret

    “Ah, but Padilha — who, in his native Brazil, made the pointless, unoriginal, yet enthusiastically violent Elite Squad.”—->Stopped the reading right there LOL. I don’t know if I’ll like this movie (Robocop), but after that, I just can’t trust reviews from this site anymore. Thank you very much, goodbye and good luck. ;-)

  • RogerBW

    I’d argue that to remake a film (or retell a story) in an interesting way, you have to decide what the story is about, what this film’s emphasis on it is going to be. If you don’t do that, you’re just Gus van Sant remaking Psycho.

  • bronxbee

    what does that even mean? you can’t trust a reviewer to give their own opinion unless (i can only infer) it matches with yours.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I dunno, man, I’m not sure how you get van Sant’s Psycho, but I don’t think it was lack of emphasis on what the film was going to be. I think van Sant knew exactly what he was trying to do: he was trying to recreate, rather than remake, a previous film. He was trying to replicate the process, line for line, shot for shot. It was an experiment, with very clear results: it doesn’t work.* Why he chose Psycho, of all movies, is something I’ll never understand. though I can’t think of a better candidate, either.

    *As I scientist, I won’t call it a “failed experiment”, as I operate under the philosophy that the only failed experiments are the ones which yield no results whatsoever.

  • Danielm80

    I think his intent was to improve his filmmaking technique. He admired Hitchcock and wanted to understand why he made the decisions he did during the original shoot, so he replicated every step of that shoot.

    Just this morning, I was reading an essay by the cartoonist Gary Panter. He said that art students should trace works by their favorite artists. This is pretty much the same idea, and if it improved van Sant’s directing skills when he made his next movie, I admire him for doing it. I don’t particularly want to see the Psycho remake, but I’ve enjoyed some of the movies he directed afterward, and maybe this is why.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    That’s probably right. My point is that, as basically unwatchable as van Sant’s Psycho is, I don’t think that it deserves the reputation of “worst remake EVAR” that is has, which has morphed into treating it as emblematic of all things wrong with remakes. The problems of van Sant’s film are very specific to that film. It certainly is the idea of a remake taking to an ultimate extreme, but almost nothing exists at the ultimate extremes. Meanwhile, RogerBW’s point about not knowing going in what exactly you’re trying to say with your remake is the problem with most remakes.

  • MisterAntrobus

    My friends and I were just curious enough to check out this remake, even though we fully expected it to be a disaster. The new Blu-ray release of the original Robocop contained a voucher for $7.50 toward the ticket price to see the new Robocop, which just happened to be enough for a matinee. So, we bought the movie we actually liked, cashed in the voucher, and all we had to lose was time.

    Anyway, Robocop 2.0 is not as complete a disaster as we expected, but still, it does very little to justify its own existence. The film ends up being a metaphor for itself: A struggle to find an identity while trapped inside a shiny, soulless shell of a corporate
    consumer product.

    You can most often glimpse an identity trying to emerge among the supporting characters – you don’t stick personalities like Michael Keaton, Sam Jackson, Gary Oldman, and Jackie Earle Haley in your movie if you don’t expect them to come up with something a little out of the ordinary. If they’d been allowed to let ‘er rip and show their true colors, they could have approached something as memorably insane as the original Robocop. As such, they merely show up to collect their paychecks, occasionally showing flashes of their own distinctiveness. The moral quandaries of each one of their characters are bulldozed over by a much less interesting – yet also somehow needlessly complicated – action revenge plot.

    Again, it’s not an utter train wreck, but that just makes me more disappointed in it, because it contained just enough wasted potential to make me lament what could have been.

  • Your Mom

    You are such a ignorant bitch… I followed your comments. What was good? everything

  • Damian Barajas

    And isn’t this a problem?

    “it is difficult to think of many recent movie remakes that actually equal the original, much less improve on it.”

    How is it that we now believe that they should be as good or better?

    Seems that I’m now at the point where any remake is not at all concerned with being as good or better than the original, its about selling tickets at the cost of nostalgia and taking the opportunity to rewrite history.

    It is in fact a very real lowering of the bar for the standards of film making, because now you don’t actually have to make a movie as good as Robocop to sell merchandise.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Well, between the slim pickings at the theaters, my generally high tolerance for bad genre movies, and the recommendation of Analee Newitz and others at io9, I went ahead and saw it.

    *sigh*

    Clearly Padhila and company decided to do a straight story about corporate dehumanization of humanity, as opposed to Verhoeven’s satirical, over-the-top, ultra-violent, black comedy about corporate dehumanization of humanity. But they just as clearly had no idea what that would look like, or how it would be interesting to watch.

    The first hour is paced like a mini-series, as thought they have 6+ hours to tell this story. The remaining 45 minutes are paced like they lost track of time during that first hour.

    The filmmakers really seem to have confused “moral ambiguity” with “trying to have it both ways”. They can’t decide what information they’re going to assume the audience has. Or at least, they make the wrong choices, spending huge amounts of exposition on how RoboCop works, and almost none on why Sellers and OmniCorp are the villains. Until the last 15 minutes, that is, when they suddenly and inexplicable become cartoonishly villainous, and even then only haltingly.

  • RogerBW

    Do you think one reason for the skew might be that Robocop is cool (i.e. for some proportion of the audience is the reason they’re here)? Also, perhaps, that any future films in the hypothetical franchise will be all about the villains?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    What skew do you mean?

    No hypothetical future film can use any villain from this movie.

  • RogerBW

    By “skew” I was referring to your comment implying that the film spends much more time on “here is how Robocop works” than on “here is why the villains are as they are”. That makes sense if you’re regarding this as a potential franchise, where the villains of the first film are just starters to show the audience how this stuff works.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Ah, no, because it’s mostly exposition about “free will” and “the system” (i.e. the computer in his head). In fact, RoboCop spends depressingly little of the movie doing anything that could be described as cool.

    Spoiler alert: all the villains end up dead. Seriously, all of them.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    Not Samuel L. Jackson. :->

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Yeah, but he’s not so much a character as a special effect. :-)

  • Rod Ribeiro

    If I had never been in Brazil, I’d probably think that Elite Squad was “pointless, unoriginal” too. But in fact it was not only a major success, but commented and satirized for years. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s a good movie, but it somehow became relevant in Brazilian culture.

    Dehumanization is a crucial point in Elite Squad’s plot. But instead of being viewed critically, it’s almost lauded as a solution against corruption and other ailments of law enforcement agents. The original Robocop’s question was whether Robocop is a good idea in principle. The New Robocop’s stance seems to be that it’s great, it’s the way to go, as long as it doesn’t fall in the wrong hands.

    *** spoilers ***
    Tellingly, Murphy’s revenge was a Bad Thing in the context of the first movie. This time Robocop doesn’t seem much troubled in killing Vallon. And, in the end, drones continue to be legally banned in the US, but it’s OCP who decides they won’t pursue the Robocop program any further.

  • David

    If you can pay him, he’ll be in your movie.

  • David

    I just saw this movie on Blu-ray. I prob would have given it a yellow light.

    “There’s a bit of body horror here — when we see what’s left of Murphy under the titanium casing — but no pathos about it.”

    I actually disagree. This was one of the few moments when I was actually emotionally involved. As a whole the movie was very flawed but Joel Kinnamon was genuinely affecting in the role. I was also intrigued by the opening sequence in Tehran. I figure that this fully developed could lead to one of two potentially fascinating notions: one, even with an unlimited supply of nearly invincible robots we still couldn’t bring democracy to a Muslim country; or two, we could bring democracy and peace to the rest of the world if only we didn’t have to be so concerned with American lives.

    As far as this concept goes in an American city: what if Robocop got too good, to the point where robots were arresting people for Jay-walking and minor traffic violations and any law on the books? People would find themselves in debt to the government and have to constantly pay part of their salary to stay out of prison. The robots start regulating the tiniest behavior in order to stamp out “hate speech” and even unruly teenage behavior. It would make for a nice counterpoint to the first movie.