Ror Reviews: ROBOCOP (2014)

Given that the last Paul Verhoeven sci-fi remake we got was the tedious Total Recall, Jose Padilha had his work cut out with this one. I wasn't very impressed with anything I'd seen from Robocop 2014 leading up to this screening, but was I pleasantly surprised?

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By Mark "RorMachine" Cassidy - 2/5/2014
When reviewing any remake it can be easy to fall into the trap of blasting it simply for existing, and not critiquing the actual quality of film making on display. This is because in the current climate we are getting English language remakes of foreign movies made only a few years ago and, in the case of Robocop, a remake of an English language movie made in the late '80s - so yes, it's inevitable that comparisons will be made and most of these "reboots" will be seen as completely pointless.

RoboCop reboot Kinnaman


Jose Padilha's Robocop doesn't buck this trend, but that's not to say it's a total waste of time either.

The movie's main problem is one the one we all figured it would be: If you're going to remake a gore soaked sci-fi classic with a healthy dose of black comedy and satire as a generic PG13 action flick..well, straight away you're gonna lose points. The action is at times surprisingly hard-hitting, but also a little pedestrian and uninspired, with the humor relegated to a couple of mildly amusing one-liners. To be fair to Padila, he does make room for a few swipes at American culture via Samuel L. Jackson's talk show interludes, and these are usually fairly successful - the problem is that the main narrative feels like a completely different beast altogether. The story is, for all intents and purposes, pretty much the same as Paul Verhoeven's original..minus the brutal way in which Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) winds up as Robocop, and with one crucial alteration: In this version his family and everyone else knows that it's Alex Murphy under the visor and he retains all of his memories, whereas in the original he begins as an unfeeling machine and only later does his real personality emerge. It's done in reverse here, and although I suppose it's commendable that they're trying something different, that does appear to be the ONLY reason to do it and it just doesn't work as well. We are also robbed of a really great villain like a Clarence J. Boddicker or the scummy OCP guys. This time Michael Keaton and Jackie Earle Haley serve as antagonists but only towards the very end and even then seemingly by default.

That's not to say their performances are sub-par, or indeed any of them. One of the main draws of this remake for many people was the excellent cast and they don't disappoint. If Kinnaman initially seems a bit out of his depth in the lead he begins to hold his own as the movie progresses, and ultimately gives a very good account of himself. He's given excellent support by the likes of said Keaton and Haley, with the ever reliable Gary Oldman emerging as a highlight. Michael K. Williams also pops up as Murphy's partner Lewis (played by a distinctly more female Nancy Allen in the original) but he's given hardly anything to do, and you're left to wonder why such a potentially strong female lead role was recast as male and then all but sidelined.

I also had a big problem with the ending. In the original, Murphy has a set of "Prime Directives" which his programming forces him to uphold; one of these preventing him from arresting any senior OCP member. In this version there's a similar plot device, but it's dumbed down substantially before being inexplicably discarded. To go into more detail would take us too far into spoilerville but you'll see what I mean when you watch for yourselves.

For what it is, Robocop 2014 is a perfectly serviceable, well paced, well acted action/drama that should hold your attention throughout. Unfortunately what it IS is another pointless remake. You could do worse on a rainy Friday night though - just don't expect to remember a thing about it as you're walking out of the theater.

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118 Comments
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SuperCat - 2/5/2014, 10:09 AM
I can live with 3 stars. I'm sold! Thanks Ror!
MatTaylorX - 2/5/2014, 10:09 AM
I'll stick with the original.
valeriesghost - 2/5/2014, 10:11 AM
about what i expected
ckal - 2/5/2014, 10:11 AM
One person gives a movie 3/5 and you're sold?

Wow. What else can I sell you?
kevberg - 2/5/2014, 10:13 AM
Paul Verhoeven is a hack. Uses way too much gore for schlock.

ill see this one .
MatTaylorX - 2/5/2014, 10:14 AM
EMPIRE gave it 2/5. They're normally on the money. Although they did give the rather dull MoS 4/5...
MrMartinMarvel - 2/5/2014, 10:14 AM
Just what I expected, passable but overall pointless.
justsomedude - 2/5/2014, 10:14 AM
totally agree with the review... that last part was like a WTF? moment. they never even bothered to explain, but tobe honest i enjoyed the movie more than i thought i would.. Omar's character was completely a waste.. such a shame
Dotanuki - 2/5/2014, 10:16 AM
I watched the original again last night. Such a great movie. The Clarence Boddicker has to be one of the best movie villains in recent history.
CaptainMexico - 2/5/2014, 10:19 AM
Ya, Clarence is a badass! The scene where he merks Alex Murphey is ruthless! I watched the honest trailers for the 87 Robocop, it just made me want to watch it again.
Pasto - 2/5/2014, 10:20 AM
Five robots out of 5!
Pasto - 2/5/2014, 10:20 AM
"EMPIRE gave it 2/5. They're normally on the money. Although they did give the rather dull MoS 4/5..."

TROLL troll troll troll TROLL!
Humperdink - 2/5/2014, 10:21 AM


TheClemster - 2/5/2014, 10:22 AM
Ror has spoken,

I shall go watch the movie: 3 stars is enough to drag me there
crushercreel23 - 2/5/2014, 10:23 AM
Super Cat I hate your avatar
SuperCat - 2/5/2014, 10:24 AM
Three out of five is bad now? I must have low standards then.
TheIncredibleHulksta - 2/5/2014, 10:24 AM
I will watch on a Tuesday matinee when it's as cheap as can be but I'm not expecting anything...
SuperCat - 2/5/2014, 10:25 AM
Lol @ crush

I get that a lot ;)
Arrowhead77 - 2/5/2014, 10:25 AM
I will check it out...
xfan320 - 2/5/2014, 10:26 AM
Oh a bit of advice: you meant to write "antagonists" in the bit about Keaton & Haley, not "protagonists". That would make them the heroes..

I'm still looking forward to it. This gave me some hope
TheBaroness89 - 2/5/2014, 10:28 AM
Oh Ror- you have convinced me to see this now...before noon for half the regular price.
SnowMiser - 2/5/2014, 10:33 AM
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Pasto - 2/5/2014, 10:36 AM
LMFAO! To far old bastard TO FAR!
cipher - 2/5/2014, 10:37 AM
Good review, Ror.
beto - 2/5/2014, 10:38 AM
3 stars is enough for a popcorn film... never really expected much from it just wanted to be entertained
Marxman12 - 2/5/2014, 10:45 AM
I'm still excited for this film. I plan on seeing it next week.
RorMachine - 2/5/2014, 10:47 AM
xfan320 , dammit! Thanks..even after a proof read these things are sometimes missed.
ralfinader - 2/5/2014, 10:51 AM
Better review than I expected, but I wasn't expecting much. I'll watch the original again when I need a Robocop fix, and leave this watered down version for the youngsters.
BillyM67 - 2/5/2014, 10:52 AM
Sounds like they should have done a straight remake, fixing the the issues the first one had (lack of quality CGI and cheesy writing/acting), and it would have been better.
InfiniteMonkey - 2/5/2014, 10:54 AM
Meh, I'll watch this when someone offers to pay.
If not, FX next year.
supermarioworldE - 2/5/2014, 10:55 AM
Knew it. The original never needed to be remade.
AlphaDean - 2/5/2014, 10:56 AM
I will check this out in the near future
Ineedrevelation - 2/5/2014, 10:56 AM
Thanks Ror. Not watching it cause I saw the original a few days ago and it's better than I remember.

they can go to hell with reboots.
Mrcool210 - 2/5/2014, 10:59 AM
The last "pointless remake" i saw was Carrie, and that is the worst movie i ever seen in my life, i mean god that was awful, so i might skip this if it isn't more positive
TheClemster - 2/5/2014, 11:02 AM
@ Gusto it should stop in half an hour
GLprime2814 - 2/5/2014, 11:06 AM
I'll wait when it's out for a week and I'm the only one in the theatre.
Optimist18 - 2/5/2014, 11:09 AM
Why are remakes "pointless"?

For those who aren't cinephiles, a lot of the great "classics" have been lost to the "winds" of time. Talk about a movie or its star from anytime before maybe the 70's (even that's becoming rare), and anybody under the age of 30 will most likely go "Huh? What are you talking about? Who or what is that?".

Now, you could blame this on a lack of culture, and an arrogant youthful attitude of "what predates me is none of my concern", and while true, a more important fact is that if some films were not remade (in essence, retold) than the stories they were retelling would be lost to a new generation.

Again, blame it on that lack of culture and arrogant attitude, as you're right 9 times out of 10, but also face the fact that if remakes didn't exist, any movie older than 40 years would be an enigma to those who aren't cinema junkies. Sad, but true.
ComradeGrey - 2/5/2014, 11:09 AM
Merits a sequel?
TheDesertGorilla - 2/5/2014, 11:11 AM
I'll pass.
Bl00dwerK - 2/5/2014, 11:16 AM
The Total Recall remake blew the first one out of the water...
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