Robocop 2014: The Robocopening
Premise: In a reboot no one really asked for, a young police officer (played the guy from The Killing) gets blown up in his driveway over some petty bickering with some stereotypically crooked cops, and he gets rebuilt... into... JOHNNY-5. I mean... ROBOCOP. Now, with the help of a possibly evil corporation that still does a lot of great work providing artificial limbs to wounded veterans, he gets put on the streets of Detroit to show the world that robots should be our true overlords, and we need to line the pockets of Michael Keaton's corporate sport coat with million dollar bills. And even though Detroit isn't the post-apocalyptic wasteland of mutants and colorful bike gangs we all wished it to be... he still, ya know... cleans up a good amount crime or whatever. But what about his family? WON'T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN? Well, he must battle his doughy insides with the shiny metal exterior that's holding them in, to regain his own humanity, or else his kid may never get to experience what it would be like to play catch with a robot dad who could now probably throw the baseball 215 MPH at his face.
-It's not the exact same story as the original Robocop, in the sense that it is less about cleaning up Detroit than it is about a corporation trying to maximize their worldwide profit *through* a robot cleaning up Detroit. It's more about the big picture than the original. That's to this reboot's benefit. To try to recreate all the 80's nonsensical weird stuff that the original film had (the melting guy, the attempted alleyway *cough* shenanegans, etc.) would have been a huge mistake; so they just made it a (moderately) normal Detroit with some other themes to tackle. Like the inner workings of a company owned by Michael Keaton (AWESOME), that employs Gary Oldman (AWESOME) as a scientist, and Jay Burachel (what?) as a marketing executive.
-It wasn't boring.
-It looked better than I expected it to.
-There's lots of gun fights and explosions.
-Samuel L. Jackson is pretty good as a Fox News-esk TV blowhard who provides a lot of the larger thematic backstory elements to the somewhat personal story of the dude who is coping to be a machine. "Why did they program me to feel pain?" But yeah, Jackson also provides the biggest laugh of the movie near the end, when he loses his cool on camera.
-Uhhhhhhg, I should have written this review right after I saw it, I know there were a few more things that I liked about it, but I can't remember them. Did I mention Gary Oldman is kind of awesome in it? Oh, I did? OK. Ummmmmm. The special effects aren't bad? [SHOOTS FUTURE TASER AT YOUR CHEST] [RUNS AWAY]
-It lacks a great villain. A guy you can truly hate, ya know, like Kurtwood Smith was in the original. There is a gang leader of some sort of underground criminal organization featured in the new movie, but he doesn't really last long as the film's bad guy. I think the villain of this movie was just supposed to be slimy white-collar greed, which is not only a played-out antagonistic theme, but it's also something that Robocop can't shoot in the face with a bazooka. YOU CAN'T PHYSICALLY MAIM THEMES.
-The PG-13 rating wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be. I mean, you can push a PG-13 to the near bottom of an R rating for violence. That's not to say that this new movie was really all that "hard-PG-13", but Robocop 2014 was still somewhat violent. Just not "50 squibs exploding on the same dude" violent. And that's just not violent enough for me.
-A character says "I wouldn't buy that for a dollar" at one point of the movie, which was bound to happen, and was quite the eye-rolling moment that I'm sure got an obnoxious high-five in the writer's room. "Yeah guys! We did it! We got the line in! But this time he says he *wouldn't* buy that for a dollar. Ha! We're so clever!"
-I saw it in IMAX, because that was the best available showtime for me; and while I love that loud ass IMAX sound system, I don't really understand why it was released on that huge screen? It was letterboxed the whole time to basically the size of a regular theater screen. At least it wasn't in 3D, so my ticket only cost $12 instead of $15. To rebel against these ridiculous IMAX prices, I snuck in some Reese's peanut butter cups from home. In your face, system!
Final Thoughts: The best way to look at this movie is to *not* compare it to the original, which is almost impossible to do. But if I close my eyes really tight and think reeeeeaaaaaally hard, when I view this movie as a standalone, unrelated film; it's actually not that bad. I was about to say that comparing Robocop 2014 to Robocop 1987 wouldn't be fair... but then I stopped myself, because it's totally fair! If Hollywood wants to make a movie released in 2014 called "Robocop" about a Detroit police officer that becomes a robotic cop, they must be prepared, no wait, *forced* to deal with comparisons to the original. And it totally doesn't hold up to the original. But, again, if you just think really hard and try to imagine a world where this was the first and only Robocop to ever be released, it's not that bad, I guess. It's better than trying to imagine a world where the Colin Farrell Total Recall remake was the only version of Total Recall we ever received.
7 out of 10
I won't see this until Saturday, but in the trailers, the vibe I'm getting off of Keaton is one of "what if Steve Jobs was extra evil?" Did that come across to you in the movie?
[Mark Suszko] ""what if Steve Jobs was extra evil?""
You're right on the money with that one. I think he even wears a turtleneck at one point!
OK, saw Robocop Saturday with my teen son, who loved the original. Between the two of us, we kind of see the Old cop/new cop comparison as similar to the discussions of the new versus old "True Grit". They are different takes on the same material, and each has places where they excel. We find them complementary rather than competitive.
I will say that Old Cop had a better and deeper sense of humor. It was in good part a satire, and a bloated over-exagggeration of the time in which it was made. It was satirizing media culture as well as business culture and consumerism.
New Cop narrows its focus down to the ethics of multinational corporations and at the same time, it spends a great deal more time on the idea of man vs. machine, man AS machine, and man in a technological society. There isn't much room for a lot of humor in all of that, and so any little jokes or humorous bits that DO come to the fore, are thrown into higher relief.
I would say that while this isn't a movie I would have asked to be re-made, I think it is a solid film that poses some deep questions in the framework of a shoot-em up effects tentpole. Definitely worth buying for a dollar.