Mania Grade: D
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- Rated: PG-13
- Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Jackie Earle Haley
- Written By: Joshua Zetumer
- Directed By: José Padilha
- Studio: MGM Home Entertainment
- Original Year of Release: 2014
- Special Features: See Below
RoboCop Blu-ray Review
A remake with an agenda
By Tim Janson
June 13, 2014
There’s two reasons to remake a film in my mind…one is because it’s been many years since the original and it’s time to introduce the film to a new audience. The second reason is because you can improve upon the original. Examples would be the remakes of Sci-fi films like “The Thing”, “The Fly” and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Unfortunately the remake of Robocop fits into neither category but if we were to add another category for blatant cash grabs in an attempt to spawn a new franchise or to espouse a political agenda, it would surely qualify.
Director José Padilha’s re-imagining of Robocop lacks both style and substance and amazingly offers little in the way of technical enhancements despite being nearly 30 years removed from the original. Two problems are apparent right off the bat. The film is rated a sanitized “family friendly” PG-13 as opposed to the original’s R rating, depriving it of the gritty, street level violence and biting satire. As a lifelong resident of the Detroit area this Robocop would have been grabbed off the streets, stripped down and sold to a scrapper on his first patrol.
The second issue is that in the opening scene we see literally dozens of Robot soldiers and ED-209 units patrolling the streets of a Middle Eastern city, scanning its terrified residents for weapons or explosives in a not so subtle anti-gun diatribe. Yeah that’s it; let’s scare the shit out of citizens from carrying weapons by having hulking mechs armed with machine guns prowling the streets. Beautiful and we will pretend the real message is about not putting American soldiers at risk. If I wanted this crap I would listen to NPR with a cappuccino and a scone.
Padilha wisely doesn’t try to do a direct remake but that unfortunately leaves his bag of tricks empty as he fails to add nothing interesting to his reboot. The entire production comes off as one big anti-right wing spank fest. OmniCorp and its CEO Raymond Sellars (Keaton) desperately want to replace human cops with its robotic soldiers but the government stands in the way of allowing a machine to possibly take the life of a human being. He’s aided in his efforts by a TV personality played with scene-chewing glee by Samuel L. Jackson who channels every ultra-conservative boogie man you can think of…
Plan B for Sellars is putting a man into a robot. While RoboCop in the first film was actually an idea that had been in development by OCP, here it is thrown off the cuff as casually as deciding to go out for ice cream. This is dropped into the lap of OmniCorp scientist Dennett Norton (Oldman) who, along with Jackson, are about the only things the film has going for it. The rest of the film is by the numbers. Honest cop Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is blown to bits by gangster leaving only a head, lungs, and bizarrely, a right hand. He’s put into the RoboCop armor/exo-suit and sent out to fight crime, supersedes the secret directives programmed into him, and soon works on solving his own murder, to take down the gangsters and corrupt cops who set him up, all leading to an underwhelming climax that is devoid of emotion and thrills.
Ok so there are a couple of other good things, one being Jackie Earle Haley as OmniCorps sarcastic military consultant. And then there is the RoboCop suit itself which is a sleek improvement over the 1987’s film’s bulkier design. It’s hardly enough to save the film, however. I don’t particularly care what politics people are partial to but just don’t give me a partisan diatribe and try to tell me it’s an action film.
RoboCop: Engineered for the 21st Century (28:00) – This is actually a three part behinds the scenes piece which looks at the various aspects of the making of the film. Looks at the films new armor, weapons, stunts and Kinnaman’s training. Includes Interviews with the cast.
Omnicorp Product Announcement (3:00) — A collection of brief advertisements detailing the various weapons, outfits, vehicles and technologies seen throughout the movie.
Deleted Scenes (4:00) – Five very short deleted scenes.