RoboCop Blu-ray Review -

Blu-ray Review

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
  • Series:

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.  

Blu-Ray Extras:

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.



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noahbody 6/13/2014 8:20:36 AM

 Anti Right wing? Yeah their so persecuted.



Chopsaki 6/13/2014 9:39:21 AM

I didn't feel the movie was anti gun necessarily as it was anti drones. It definitely was an antiseptic version reminding me alot of Total Recall. I gave it a C.

blankczech 6/13/2014 11:22:05 AM

 Whether I agree with him or not I like that Janson has the guts to give a D grade to a movie. So many other Mania critics handing out B's to garbage flicks.  

I don't understand Janson's problem with what he calls the partisan diabtribe.  Every good story needs 5 important elements -  Plot, Character, Conflict, Theme and Setting.  The diatribe as Tim calls it is the theme, whether he is in agreement with that theme or not is unimportant to me...the story needs a theme.  Without it we are left with something convoluted and incoherent like Thor 2 - the dark world.

I also didn't see the theme as a right wing bashing one.  Many of my right wing friends are against big government, government spying, intrusions on privacy, a police state, and heavy handed gun control, and this film seems to be against those things as well.  

I have never met a person whose politics strictly followed either a right wing or left wing political path. Instead people tend to tailor their politics with what works best for them and their loved ones / families. I have met blue collar folks struggling to make ends meet who were against paying taxes for social  programs, who were also against government censhorship of entertainment mediums (like TV) and I have met liberals who because of their strict Catholic upbringing were strongly opposed to gov't funded abortion clinics.




ztigr 6/13/2014 11:37:07 AM

I didn't think this movie was horrible, but what is so bad about these remakes is they are such half-hearted efforts.  This movie couldn't figure out what it wanted to be.  Did it want to be a statement film?  A scifi film? and action film?  an homage? or a different story?  It tried, but ultimately failed to be any of these.  

hanso 6/13/2014 5:16:37 PM

 I bought it, saw it and cant remember it.

domino2008 6/13/2014 7:46:39 PM

Before I bought it , I looked at Amazon reviews the1 stars ,This  olne Guy put down the original, saying it had too much Violence an Characters like Clarance Bonitger ruined His movie an how this PG-13 film was so much better.Let say it sparked a debate . The original was supposed to be bloody an gory. I loved the  editing and how Claracance an crew who were working for Omini-corp . Sure some ofthe violence had scenes that made You chuckle like the demostation  when the Ed 209 blasts the Guyn  in the board room . the ads on Tv , and how He  remembered He had a family . And one the best payback scene when the one bad Guy gets thrown in some chemicals an freaks out His buddies as His skin was melting , an Clarence hitting Him a His body is just liquid. goo This PG-13 Robo - cop can move faster, but misses what the first fillm hit home run . Two good points are the co stars  , Jackie Earle Haley and the actor who played Omar in the Wire an B/W Emiprire as Chalky White ,but neither have enough screen time.

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 6/13/2014 11:32:36 PM

 Anti-gun? Holy crap. Is that what you take out of it? That's very...well...

ultrazilla2000 6/14/2014 4:14:27 AM

I thought it was good.  Better than I expected any way.  As for the political angle?  You see what you want to see...get over it.  That's making crazy issues where there are none.  If anything, it's more of a comment about attack drones than gun control.  And as for the human hand?  It was meant to give Robocop a human element to better correspond with the human population.  Would someone feel safer shaking the cold metal of a robot hand, or the warmth of a human hand when offered?

boxker 6/14/2014 11:25:37 AM

I thought it was decent could've/should've been l lot better. Like someone already it was an half hearted effort. It cracks me up when people think that movies should act like politics don't exist. As far as it not being rated R it doesn't need to me. Just have better writing and better direction and better effort. The idea of Rocobop has the great seed for a good movie, if you do it right.

One thing that bothered me was that it didn't seem to have a real villain and Robo's helmet. I like the new suit better but I like the old helmet better.

Dazzler 6/16/2014 4:31:15 AM

I enjoyed it for what it was.  CGI heavy action movie.  Not as good as first one or 2nd for me.  I will buy it, but will wait for price drop. 

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