After watching the RoboCop remake I just had to rewatch the original once more. Now for those of you expecting harsh criticism I’ll let you know right away this is not the place you’re going to find it. This movie and I have a special relationship, one nurtured way back in the late 80’s/early 90’s when I as a young teen got infatuated with the RoboCop cartoon. After learning there was an actual feature film watching that became my goal and when I rented I never even bothered to look at the age-restriction. So there we were, a 14 year old boy and his 10 year old brother watching an R-rated RoboCop. My mom was not pleased, but we were;
This movie is awesome!
The fun thing is that on paper the concept of the part machine/part human cop is something of a movie starring Billy Blanks, but the script is not only pretty layered for a cyborg cop movie, it’s also filled with great satirical touches. Add to that the direction of Paul Verhoeven who does not shy away from violence and nudity and who handles the RoboCop character as a Jesus-figure. What you get is a cult classic that on almost every level easily stands the test of time.
I say almost because the only thing that doesn’t hold up so well are the effects and the fashion. In a couple of cases people early walk around with that certain 80’s hair style and clothing. It would have been smarter to neutralize the hair styles at least. Then there are the special effects. While RoboCop still looks awesome his main nemesis ED-209 is obviously brought to life by stop-motion. Now I don’t mind and the majority of the scenes are done pretty well, but when watching the Blu-Ray on an HD-TV it’s obvious during close-up that you’re watching a miniature model. Also a lot of backgrounds are obviously matte paintings. A lot of new viewers could be put off by this because they’re familiar with the 2014 version which at least had some pretty nifty effects.
But those people are morons, because they’re missing out on one of the greatest action sci-fi movies ever made. RoboCop has it all like over the top violent action, especially when you’re watching the unrated director’s cut. Hands are shot off, an injured man is thrown on top of a speeding car which then runs over it, ED-209 shoots a man into little pieces, a rapist is shot in the crotch and one guy lands in a container of toxic waste only for him to melt on screen before a speeding car literally splits him in two. RoboCop is not for the faint of heart.
But beneath this is something the remake got all wrong: a tragic story of a man who’s body is used after him dying and having his mind erased. RoboCop slowly realizes who he was in his past life and tries to get revenge on the people who killed him. These people are a memorable bunch led by the now classic movie villain “Clarence Boddicker”. He has some really great lines and Kurtwood Smith really enjoys himself in the role of gang leader with a sadistic touch.
To me RoboCop is one of those movie that never bores like Die Hard or Predator. It constantly makes all the right choices. In the 2014 version before RoboCop is unveiled in it’s final form we’ve been through all of his motions: the training, the testing, the coming to terms with being a cyborg. In this movie we see Murphy die from his point-of-view, then we see snaps of people tinkering on him. When he is revealed to the public we first only see it still from his point-of-view, we catch a glimpse of him when he’s walking past a tv showing him, we then see shots of his back. Bottom line: they really build up to revealing him which makes it all the more rewarding when we finally see him in action.
People really hate on George Lucas for constantly tinkering with his Star Wars movies but if I could choose between a remake and someone just replacing the stop-motion ED-209 with a CG-version I’d rather go for the latter any day.