Watching the 2014 version of RoboCop made me realize how many memorable scenes the original had, while most of them were grotesquely violent they were also memorable. The Ed-209 demonstration gone wrong, the execution of Officer Murphy, the shooting of a rapist in the crotch are good examples of scenes everybody will remember. But the movie, largely made up of a cast of relatively unknowns, had a good script out of which director Paul Verhoeven got everything he could. That movie is also full of good quotes and Clarence Boddicker was a classic villain. In the 2014 version a lot of those elements are gone.
As you can probably tell I’m a big fan of the original. I consider it to be one of the best action movies ever made and it’s one of those movies I can just watch over and over again without getting bored. The 2014 version however does not reach that status. All it does is provide a revamped storyline, a cast full of big names and better special effects but like RoboCop himself: the heart is gone.
RoboCop is the story of Officer Alex Murphy who gets killed by a car bomb planted by corrupt colleagues. OCP is looking for a way to introduce robots as law enforcers in the US and see a possibility by creating a part man/part machine cop. Different this time isn’t just the element of police corruption but also that using Alex’ remains is done with full consent of his wife unlike in the original. They actually start off by having RoboCop being fully aware of his past life and then lowering his dopamine levels so that he loses the majority of his emotions. These changes don’t work in favor of the movie, though to be honest they don’t work against the movie either.
What really is a major complaint is how they never build up to the introduction of RoboCop. In the original he had multiple major reveals: his first introduction and later when he removes the mask. In this movie the first shots we see are RoboCop without the mask. Which is really clean despite the brain being visible unlike the original which was a cool prosthetic. It really takes the element of surprise away of the whole character and when he’s finally introduced to the audience in the movie, he’s already old news to us.
RoboCop is an adequate action movie for today’s audience. The action scenes are fun and the special effects seamlessly integrated. No stop-motion ED-209’s here. The high profile cast consisting of familiar names like Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Jackie Earle Haley, Jay Baruchel and Samuel L. Jackson do their jobs and add to the overall gloss this movie has over its predecessor. Especially Oldman’s scientist/doctor is a layered character who’s constantly balancing on what’s right and what’s wrong. Jackson is fun as the right-wing TV -show host obviously modeled after people like Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly.
But the movie is pretty tame due to the PG-13 rating. RoboCop mostly battles other Robots, merely tazes people or issues threats and when he does go up against a platoon of heavily armed bad guys the light is turned off so all the action takes place in the dark allowing him to mow down a dozen people without a spat of the red onscreen. Whenever somebody is shot it’s always shown from a distance or off screen.
The original was a movie that surprisingly turned out to be much better than the synopsis would have people expect it to be. The remake, though a decent action movie on its own, never lives up to it and considering the box office should be renamed RoboFlop.