RoboCop (2014)


Please, please, please! Don’t give the police-force any more ideas than they can already handle!

After Detroit policeman Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) gets caught snooping around in all of the wrong places, he’s set-up, blown-up and left in fatal-condition, to where death is most likely the answer. Left with the decision to either never see him again, or allow him to be apart of some scientific-experiment let on by this multi-national company known as OmniCorp, his wife (Abbie Cornish) decides that she doesn’t quite want to let her hubby go, considering that he still has a son to care for. Once scientist Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) is given the “go ahead” from the wifey-poo, Murphy is somehow made into this $2.7 billion (or so) cyborg cop that can detect when something dangerous is about to occur, or already has and the baddie has gotten away and somehow into his sight. Murphy is so unstoppable, that every criminal and corrupt-cop in his jurisdiction run and hide for their lives, while also trying to find out a way to get rid of Murphy for good. However, their not alone, as OmniCorp’s CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) is about to pull the plug, all due to the bad press that Murphy is attracting him and also for the sheer fact that RoboCop may not be able to be stopped, once his path of anger, violence and revenge begins.

"How many fingers am I holding up?"
“How many fingers am I holding up?”

I think I stand for everyone else out there when I say that we definitely didn’t need a RoboCop remake. Two shitty sequels, and an even-shittier TV show, I think, was more than enough for the RoboCop franchise to over-stay its welcome, without ruining the legacy of the kick-ass, slam-bang, Paul Verhoeven original. As usual though, the powers that be in Hollywood always seem to get their ways and despite everyone’s best wishes, we do in fact have a RoboCop remake in the midst of ourselves and it’s just a reality we have to come to grasp with. Doesn’t mean we have to be happy about it, but just realizing that there is a remake out there and accepting it for what it is, definitely goes a long way, which is why I think this is a classic-case where there’s a remake of a beloved-movie that doesn’t do too much wrong, nor too much good – it’s just there for us to see and hopefully make the people behind it a bit more richer.

Don’t think that’s going to happen, but this isn’t “Dan the Man’s Box-Office Predictions”, now is it? So on with the review!

If there’s one thing most remakes should do, it’s not to just tell us the same story again, beat-by-beat, note-by-note, but more so to try and differentiate a bit in ways that would not only improve upon the original, but make it not seem as dated in the new society it’s being presented to. Here, one of the key differences between this film and of the original, is that OmniCorp isn’t as heartless as they once were and are shown to actually be working with the U.S. government, rather than trying to take it over. This makes them seem like not only does Murphy really have all of the odds stacked-up against him once the going gets good, but it also gives you a better sense with the type of people he’s dealing within OmniCorp.

Most of the people that work in OmniCorp, this time around, are exactly what you’d see with most business-heads nowadays: They fight, they yell, they strike-up deals, talk, discuss what to do next, try to make as much money as possible and they also definitely make sure that their public-image isn’t ruined, even in the slightest bit. Sure, that was definitely looked at in the original movie, with a whole bunch of satire to go along with it, but here, it feels like we really are getting a story, with a real billion-dollar company like OmniCorp, that could have possibly even taken place in today’s day and age. All of the sci-fi gadgets and robots aside, there is a true sense that not only is OmniCorp trying to make this world a bit of a better place, but they are trying to be seen as the saviors as well.

Ring a bell of any politicians we may, or may not have out there in the real world today? Just think about it, people! It could happen!

But I digress. Mainly the point I’m trying to get across is that this isn’t a slap-dash remake that just tries to go over everything that the remake did back in 1987; this time around, we actually get a modern-day look and feel to it, although it still has that “futuristic” twist to it. Other than this aspect of the story though, everything is a bit of the same and nothing special, which is a shame, because the rest of the film seemed to hold some actual promise. The biting satire from the original is all but gone this time around, and only shown in bits and pieces where a character will randomly drop-in a famous quote from that movie and make things a bit awkward. Like for instance, a certain character drops the “I’d buy that for a dollar!” line in some form, and it literally comes out of nowhere, and seems like a lame-attempt at director José Padilha trying to have us remember how great the original was. Which, he does do, but probably not for the better sake of his movie, as we are constantly being reminded that this is a remake of a way, way better flick.

Oh, what could have been.
Oh, what could have been.

Speaking of Padilha, the guy didn’t really do much for me with his Elite Squad film, and needless to say, a lot of what he did with the look of that film, is pretty much the same thing this time around. A lot of shaky-cam; a lot of frenetic-movements; a lot of grit; and plenty more corny-lines that only stock cop characters could deliver. It’s not like Padilha does an all that of a terrible job as director, it’s just clear that since he’s working with a PG-13 rating, things are a bit tamer than he may be used to and it translates to the screen, as the action never fully gets off the ground. It just thrills every once and awhile, which is mainly due to the wonderful sound design. Never thought I’d compliment a movie on its sound design, but so be it the case with the RoboCop remake.

What’s also a step-up for this remake, as opposed to many others out there is that the cast is pretty darn promising, even if they don’t all live up to what should have been. Joel Kinnaman shows some of that swagger he had on the Killing and does a fine enough job as Murphy, even though he does struggle quite a bit with some of the cornier-lines he’s given. Especially one scene where we see the extent of his injuries and have to hear him utter out such lines as, “Oh lord no! Oh lord no!”. It’s all so corn-ballish, but reminds us why Peter Weller was such a treat as Alex Murphy to begin with. Even Murphy’s wife, played by Abbie Cornish, is a bit bland, though it’s only because she gets pushed to the side for so long and rarely ever shows her face, if only to bitch and moan about how she “doesn’t get to see her husband enough”. Women, right men?

Though there’s definitely plenty more people here other than just these two, although some are wasted among these well-regarded names. Gary Oldman probably gets the meatiest role out of anybody else here in this supporting cast (which isn’t saying all that much to begin with), and does all that he can with what seems to be a more humane, caring guy that literally feels like his back is thrown-up against the wall, despite him not wanting it to be; Samuel L. Jackson gets plenty of chances to yell, scream and be a lot of fun as a Republican pundit, who frequently shows up to inform us on what the rest of the world is chatting-about; Jackie Earle Haley gets to be a bit gritty as the guy who is always against RoboCop, for no other reason than that he prefers robots with no soul or heart at all, over robotic-humans with hearts and souls; and Michael Keaton, in what seems like his first major-role in 100 years, finally gets a chance to chew some scenery up as the smart, charming and conniving Omnicorp CEO, Raymond Sellars. And there’s plenty of other heavy-hitting, supporting stars to be found here with Michael K. Williams, Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle and even Zach Grenier, who all do what they can, but do feel like a bunch of pretty faces and names, just thrown into a movie that clearly needs the name-recognition. Shame too, because with this cast, we could have had something quite solid on our hands here. Instead, we just get a RoboCop remake, without any penis-shooting.

Boo to that!

Consensus: Surely not as bad as one might have expected from a RoboCop remake, which is to credit more of the different-directions the story takes from the original, but still doesn’t go any further than that and leaves the action, the satire and the overall mood a bit bland.

 5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Dead or alive, you're going to watch this movie, America. You better!"
“Dead or alive, you’re going to watch this movie. You better!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

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43 comments

  1. While I appreciate that you gave the movie kudos for presenting a more well-rounded billion-dollar company, I, like you, see absolutely no reason for this film beyond a cashgrab. The point of Robocop is not to present the feasibility of a robotic supercop but to symbolize the petty exploitation of the average joe by his cold, unfeeling corporate masters. In as comedic and violent a way as possible. Judging it solely by its trailer, this film seems like Hollywood took a look at what the army is actually developing now in terms of hardware and said, ‘hey, that’s kind of like robocop! Isn’t it cool that robocop could be used to fight wars, guys?’ And then slapped a generic I-am-a-human-not-a-machine trope onto it. I know I’m just pissing and moaning now, but hopefully if this flick does as poorly as the Total Recall remake the studios will get an inkling that it’s the films themselves and not the titles and catchphrases that people actually enjoy.

    • It’s pissing and moaning for all of the right reasons though, Pierce. I agree with what it is that you’re saying, because even though I don’t want remakes for these types of movies, the fact remains that the studios think that there is a pretty penny to be made in these stories still. Hopefully they do find out that they don’t make any money, and that they’ll just end-up giving up on remaking such classics as these for the rest of time. Or, at least for awhile anyway. Thanks for your thoughtful words, brother! Always appreciated!

  2. I didn’t welcome the news this film was going to be made, but many reviews have been rather positive – or should I say, more positive than we all expected – in light of how bland this thing looked from the outset. I’ll check it out at some time in the future, but I won’t be racing out to see it. Good review, Dan!!

    Re; “I’d buy that for a dollar” riff – seems people are intent on putting stuff from the original film into remakes, considering they did a similar thing with Total Recall’s three-titted woman…. Screw Hollywood’s lack of creativity….

  3. Good review Dan. I haven’t watched this yet. Too bad it doesn’t have much satire like the original considering the number of Robophobia billboard movie posters I’ve seen around town lately.

    • I haven’t seen them, but the closest they get to any satire is with Samuel L. Jackson, and even then, it’s just him telling us what’s going on in the world.

  4. I liked this a lot more than you did! I think it asks interesting questions about medical interventions, technology and what it means to be human. Just for once, the CGI didn’t annoy me. Good review, but I disagree with you and found it a refreshing treat after a run of very heavy films. I didn’t look at my watch once.

    • Good for you, Greer! I liked some of the themes and ideas about the real-world the movie played around with, but they were wasted on some pretty lackluster scenes of action and CGI.

  5. I am so tired of remakes. With all is going on in the world today you would think Hollywood could come out with plenty of original ideas. But the stupid public keep on going to see these films so Hollywood will still keep on flushing it’s crap down the toilet for us to watch. Wake up public, they are not even trying anymore, they are just raking in the dough while you pay for mediocre crap!

  6. That sounds awful just because of how good the original was. As a standalone, it likely would have only been decent, and forgettable. Still going to watch it, but bracing myself for disappointment.

  7. Sounds like there is a pretty strong consensus: as a stand alone film, not particularly good, but much better than it should have been. I will probably catch it in a Redbox somewhere. Thanks for the review.

  8. This seems to agree with the general consensus that this new Robocop is a decent, mildly respectful remake, but nothing special. If nothing else, the remake has inspired me to check out the original, which I have never seen. I guess that may be one constant positive with all these remakes, re-imaginings, and reboots of classic, marketable brands. They remind newer generations of past cinematic achievements even if the newer interpretations don’t always live up to the legacy of the originals. That’s something.

  9. I think I may have liked it better than you, probably because I didn’t have much expectations for it from the beginning. I thought movie loses its focus down the stretch and became too generic, the climatic showdown between Robo and the villains felt forced and kind of ridiculous.

  10. It had a cool spin to it and it was fun. Unfortunately, Padilha just made a mockery out of RoboCop and really was just trying to get a younger generation involved in the franchise. The story was good till the third part of the film then everything went to pot. Great review as always!

  11. I completely agree that we did not need a remake, of a smart film like RoboCop. That said, I’m encouraged to hear that it wasn’t as bad as we all expected. At the same time I’m extremely disappointed that the satire is gone and that it’s a PG-13 flick. Let’s just say I haven’t exactly been rushing out to see this movie. I’d rather just watch the original some more.

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