For presidents day I, all alone, went to see what this new Robocop Reboot was all about.
Lets get this out of the way right now: I liked this film and I’m also a fan of Robocop 1 & 2; let’s try to forget that Robocop 3 was a thing.
In this reboot nothing is taken away from the Verhoeven Masterpiece. Instead we have a proper reboot to make the style, tone and message more contemporary.
Basics of the story remain the same. Cop goes after criminal, criminal kills the cop, cop comes back as Robocop.
There has been quite a bit of angst about the movie being PG-13 instead of gloriously R. THIS story loses nothing for being rated PG-13. If they had tried to make the first Robocop PG-13 it would have been a disaster, in fact I think they were stuck with an X rating until multiple recuts.
Lets go down the list.
Language: 80’s detroit and 80’s action in general loved the f-bomb amongst other things and this worked for the original. Here a language filter in most media doesn’t bother me unless a character is specifically known for it. Sam Jackson does give us a Mother F&cker at the end. Overall the lack of swearing was a non-issue, colored language never felt left out of the dialogue.
Blood: Famously gory is the original with the shotgun dismemberment, and the ED-209 glitch scene where it shoots up the boardroom. The reboot shifts focus from urban decay, crime and corporate corruption to drone warfare, the nature of will and a hefty dose of technofear. In this regard most of the fight scenes are against drones, use explosives, or the new taser rounds. The first big scene vs humans is fought at in darkness meaning blood is a very limited factor.
Ok, Fears from the Trailer.
1) The Wife and Kids. The kid from the first Robocop had a much bigger part. Here the child is barely a prop. And while the 2014 wife can be annoying she is at least necessary to exert plot pressure which is 100 steps up from the 0 impact of the wife from the original.
2) Why does he still have a human right hand? He doesn’t. The Omnicorp in this version is a child of the bigger OCP from the original and is focused on creating drones for warfare. The conflict is that while we use drones overseas we don’t’ use them here at home.
The obstacle is that congress and the American people don’t trust robots and Omnicorp’s solution is the robocop initiative. Putting Murphey in the suit so a person is making decisions, not a drone and the hand is cybernetic but covered to look human so people aren’t freaked out.
This was a big sticking point with me as you don’t put something can can withstand a few hundred pounds of force on an arm that can exert a few tons and that did not turn out to be the case. Good on them.
3) But the Gunfights! Robocop carries two weapons. His primary service weapon fires TASER bullets. Which is already a thing so no sci-fi magic necessary. He has a secondary weapon that fires bullets which does come into play but the scene hides much of the gore. There is an acceptable level of violence, just not the gratuitous blood splatter.
4) But he’s black! Omnicorp isn’t very evil in this movie, but they are still quite douchey. it was the bosses call to make him Black and it’s a character arc thing. Spoiler Alert!!! he gets his blue back at the end.
Almost every character! Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton Sam Jackson and Jack Earl Haley make this movie sing. Everyone else delivers just enough to hold up their parts.
The weakest parts of the cast are due to time. The Criminal Antagonist does not get enough screen time for us to care about Murphey’s conflict with him. Murphey’s partner Lewis is now 1) A Man and 2) Black, I had to hear his name a few times before I realized She had been reimagined. And the ED-209, he gets a few scenes looking badass but we don’t get a feel for what they can do before the big showdown near the end.
Omnicorp is not evil enough. Honestly it’s like half way through the movie the writers realized Omnicorp was supposed to be villainous and previously smart characters had to make obviously bad choices in order to set up the conflict at the end.
Robocop is going to flounder for it’s release date. It opened on Valentines weekend and is up against The Lego Movie. I don’t know if the studio predicted how huge the Lego Movie would be, but they still put their film up at a time when children would drag the family one direction, and wives would drag them the other. This is on top of a poor set of trailers that did not convince fans of the original to give it a chance.
And there is the Robocop reboot. I watched it so you don’t have you.
But you should, this was a worthy effort.