Just saw the RoboCop remake. Thoughts? Well, it didn’t suck (…as bad as Total Recall). But unfortunately it wasn’t great either.
The opening scenes of the Pat Novak show staring Samuel L. Jackson were supposed to evoke the same over-the-top media as we saw in the original. You could see what they were going for. The scene included a live feed from the pacification of Tehran by ED-209 robots. It wasn’t funny. It was very uncomfortable to watch. I think they missed the point. A reference to Iran is too close to reality. It would have been more satirical if they were pacifying Acapulco or Iceland. So the whole opening falls flat. Novak is lobbying for the use of these robots inside the US but federal law prohibits them. There was another missed opportunity here where they could have talk about different states or border patrol uses for robots. Jackson manages to get an audience laugh when he drops an f-bomb in the second half.
Soon we meet Officer Murphy starting with the back of his head. There’s a reference to Officer Lewis. We know she is his partner, or at least she was in the first movie. Lewis has apparently been hurt somehow. We meet other characters in the precinct. We spend time with the Murphy family. Later we find out that Murphy and Lewis went after a bad guy and Lewis ended up getting shot. Oh, and Anne Lewis is now Officer Jack Lewis. It must have been payback for Boomer on Battlestar Galactica. Bad guy decides our Alex Murphy is getting too close and blows him up.
So Murphy is hurt. He burned. He’s missing a couple limbs. But he’s not dead. His wife signs him over to OmniCorp. Robo is born as a way to get around the federal law. When Murphy wakes up he’s a little upset. They decide to suppress his emotions to increase his reaction time. They control his body chemistry and turn him into a robotic personality. Nearly an hour of screen time has passed and we are finally seeing Robo on the streets. Plot happens; bad guy dies; roll credits.
It wasn’t all bad. There was a lot to like about this movie. For one thing it was actually filmed in Detroit. No longer are they using Dallas, Houston and Atlanta as stand ins. We see OCP headquarters right on the riverfront next to the GM building. The city actually looks pretty good.
Gary Oldman was good playing Alfred to Murphy’s Batman. He was believable as the motivated scientist. Michael Keaton appeared to be playing an older cynical Bruce Wayne. I do not know Joel Kinnaman. He was very stiff it was hard to watch him. And that was before he put on the suit.
The effects in the move ran the gamut. The scenes of what was left of Murphy were reminiscent of of the Borg queen. The gun battles looked like video games. There was a lot of first person shots and a bit of shaky stead-cam. The battle with the ED-209s was good. I liked seeing them in the urban scenario. Overall the movie had a good look.
The whole movie was missing heart which coincidentally so was Murphy. This is the second in a trilogy of Paul Verhoeven remakes. While this one was not nearly as bad as Total Recall, it never made me care about anything in the story. The result is a flat procedural walk through of the first movie with Verhoeven’s biting edge. The original went over the line. This movie pulled back. Robo is armed with a taser instead of a bit gun. This was obviously done to get the PG-13 rating. I only saw blood in one seen. If you are a die-hard Robo fan there may be something here for you. The wait to video should not be long.