One of the perks of having your own blog is that you get to make up the rules as you go along. For instance, we recently decided to save any Christmas movies we come across until December. It just makes more sense than watching Elf in April. So when Ben suggested we go crazy and review the original RoboCop now in anticipation of the release of the reboot, I was like “Sure, why not.” If you disagree, well… I don’t know, complain in the comments section or something. We don’t really care. Your move, creep.
RoboCop is a movie that I had no interest in ever seeing. It just didn’t seem interesting, and I assumed it would be completely dated. I was completely wrong on the first count, but slightly right about the second.
This movie was a lot more entertaining than I thought it would be. The setting is a strange mix of the past and the future that somehow makes it feel fresh, though not in a way that could have been planned in 1987. For example, in RoboCop‘s Detroit the city is on the verge of bankruptcy and overrun with crime. There’s no way the filmmakers could have known that the city would actually file for bankruptcy just over 15 years later, but given recent events it totally feels like a robotic police officer could be right around the corner. (Which let’s be honest, I’m sure somewhere a company is definitely working on this.)
This film was directed by Paul Verhoeven, who I only know from Starship Troopers. Verhoeven’s fingerprints are all over RoboCop, which looks like a test run for Troopers. The violence in both is gruesome and over the top. Both employ fake news footage and commercials to flesh out the world presented. Each movie presents a dystopian future that skewers present day greed and corruption. There are even gratuitous nudity scenes that take place in coed locker room facilities in both. I’m starting to wonder if Verhoeven intended Starship Troopers to be a pseudo-sequel to RoboCop… It kind of works, actually.
The special effects here are the only thing that I found a tad distracting. For the most part they are good. The actual RoboCop suit looks pretty slick even now. The prototype that preceded him didn’t age as well. When an actual robot/puppet is used it looks great. However, stop motion animation was used for most wide shots, and it looks incredibly dated. Still, this is a minor issue. It definitely does not ruin what is a seriously cool movie.
Most of you are probably asking why I’m reviewing a movie starting with R. I decided to review the original version of this classic action movie to commemorate the release of the new reboot.
This is a really violent film. I never realised it was rated R, but after watching it again it absolutely should be. The violence is very gory and bloody, sometimes it feels excessive but the story is so great and really original that you can forgive the over the top violence somewhat.
Peter Weller stars as Alex Murphy, a Detroit cop who is horrifically murdered in the line of duty by the villain Clarence Boddicker (That 70s Show‘s Kurtwood Smith). Murphy is brought back to life as the cyborg police officer, RoboCop. The police force have recently been bought by the mega corporation OCP, and they are hoping to use this RoboCop in the field as a way of eventually replacing real police officers should they ever go on strike, which is something they’ve been threatening to do since being privatised. RoboCop is supposed to be an automaton that will blindly serve his OCP overlords, but when he starts remembering his life as Alex Murphy problems arise and OCP elect to put an end to RoboCop.
In the late 80s this idea was groundbreaking and the special effects were amazing. They have not held up so well though. Robocop still looks good because it’s just Peter Weller in a suit, but the hulking police robot ED-209 looks very dated. The film makers used stop motion to create this robot and he looks very fake on camera by today’s standards. The futuristic setting is also let down by what is clearly 1980s technology being used by the characters in this film. This is one of the reasons I’m so interested in the reboot that is to be released this week. The story is still great, and if they follow it properly, but also have updated special effects I think the film could be a really solid homage to what is still a great action film.