ROBOCOP, An In-Depth EF Review

ROBOCOP, An In-Depth EF Review

Here is my in-depth review of RoboCop. Read on after the jump to see my verdict on this reboot of a beloved cult classic from the 80's, and leave your thoughts in the usual place.

RoboCop, 2014

General Information
February 12th, 2014
Opened: February 6th, 2014 Internationally @ $28,700,000, with its first actual screenings on January 30, 2014 in Malaysia and Singapore
Metacritic: 52% with a 7.1 User Score
Rotten Tomatoes Aggregated So Far: 49% (Critics) & 67% Audience
IMDB Profile
Movie Website

Editorial Biases:

I was young when the first RoboCop movie released, and I “Skipped” into it with some of my friends due to my preteen status barring me from “R” rated movies. While I can say it was cheese to the max, I can also say that I loved every second of it; during a very hot summer in New York 1987.

That said, I understand the need to control budgets; the fiscal responsibility in terms of what needs to be done to generate appropriate returns on a film at a 2.5 markup over its budget. But I am not necessarily happy this is a PG-13 movie to accomplish this fact. What I’ve perceived is a watered-down storyline eerily parallel to the original, without any risks to do something (properly) new. It should be a remake, in the sense that it should be new and different while maintaining the essence of the original, not just a generic sequence of events. While there are aspects in this film that I have found to be extremely pretty and “inner child awesome” I use my press access into this film tonight with a lot of apprehensive thoughts; skeptical that this will live up to the interesting ways the original is still relevant today. I may end up enjoying the film, but I’m almost certain it will not remove the original as the cult classic it is today, 30 years from now.

The Good

Despite anything I may write in this review, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this movie, because it was a very different take on a beloved character in cult cinema. It is fun, it is a bit mindless, but a few actors help place some of the story on track, even if some of the writing was not necessarily the greatest in a variety of areas. But this is not intended to be an Oscar performance, aside from the amazing CGI and costuming, which needs some recognition.

It is a film worth watching in an IMAX theater while sitting in a DBOX seat, as I did. If you don’t mind the rollercoaster seating effect, you’ll thoroughly enjoy the ride. Bring Popcorn, because this movie (the original, and this remake included) are what the phrase “popcorn flick” was coined for.

There were myriad homage’s to the original film, many I don’t want to spoil here in a review. While they are fun to notice and catch, most are not really hidden as Easter eggs. They are immediately recognized if you are a fan of the original film.

Because the film is a remake, they keep to a set outline defined by the original, and in keeping with this outline, the changes made cause the pacing to stutter forward in a few spots, but mostly has a good general feel and movement forward.

Edit: Joel Kinnaman was an excellent choice for the role and brought the human side of Alex Murphy extremely well.

The Bad

There are characters missing that are, in my book, a part of the original cult classic in a way that made RoboCop “become” what it is. Officer Anne Lewis, and Sergeant Warren Reed. Now, in some way, we got both in the form of Sergeant Jack Lewis, played by Michael Williams, who is a phenomenal actor, usually shining in criminal character roles (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire). Instead we got somewhat of a one dimensional character to feed a directional path for Murphy to follow, ultimately leading to his near demise and his resurrection as RoboCop.

Another amazing character that we did not, at least not yet (depending on sequels) get in this movie, is The Old Man. Someone I originally was hoping was being played by Samuel L. Jackson, to then seemingly be played by a younger more animated, frantic, and somewhat squirrely Michael Keaton. Who easily could have been Dick Jones. I’m guessing, like most films, the production did not want to give away their presumed surprise twist by penning the name of the bad guy from the original film. Which was obvious from the first moment Keaton walked into frame, that he would (ultimately) be the main antagonist, pulling all of the strings. You just don’t know, until much later on, that in the first few minutes, the film foreshadows the mechanic by which RoboCop would be thwarted in parallel to the original film.

What happened to my beloved and ridiculously cheesy commercials? Like “I’d buy that for a dollar!” I only got a revision of that line in a moment of homage. But no commercials to speak of.

We’re also missing the gorgeous sniper rifles that were used to take out Robo in the original movie, by a cast of baddies that were relatively fleshed out and well developed. Something sorely lacking in this remake. These iconic weapons were replaced by (sure they were cool, but…) pulse rifle looking sci-fi toys. Along with Taser Projectile weapons, that can be set from Stun to Kill…I didn’t realize I stepped into Star Trek.

There is little to no blood to speak of in this film. A lot of the action sequences outside of the opening and ending are predominantly RoboCop fighting other robots, or using stun weaponry. As cool as all of this is, the movie simply has no balls. Short of the perceived murder of a child in Tehran by an E.D. 209 following its set rules of engagement. I also don’t feel the depravity of the city of Detroit, I don’t feel the dangers of the hyper-violent crimes that the city is supposed to be experiencing. None of that story was developed. The argument can be given that it’s all propaganda by Omnicorp, and that’s really what came through in the story, or so I’ll speculate this as intended.

I personally disliked the “Tactical Black”, not because I thought it was uncool, but simply because of the way the lighting in the film worked with the suit. Of which (nearly) its entirety was matted black with some piano black gloss in some areas. You simply couldn’t see it well enough on the screen. While I make this minor complaint, there was a definite purpose for it, and it becomes clear at the end of the film, but in my opinion, at the loss of visual detail throughout the movie itself.

The Ugly

This is yet another film using the Middle-East as a whipping child. I’ve been to the Mid-East (when I served in the military) and it is a beautiful place with a wonderful culture, and constantly using these people in films as the example of bad guys, seems stereotypically unfair. While this is a small argument point, I later realize in the film it’s Padilha’s subtle political message, in a very Alan Moore kind of style. While I’m not sure it was delivered properly, or for that matter, well; the picture painted for this particular political message is not completely unnoticed. I do like the aspect within the same set of political Easter eggs painting the picture of a corporatized America. But isn’t this an over-the-top no expense-spared-on-blood-squibs movie? Or is it RoboCop as written by Tom Clancy with Michael Crichton as a story editor? While that thought swirls in my mind under the category of “How awesome would that be!?” It’s still not the kind of RoboCop movie I was expecting, and in the end, is partial to the watered down PG-13 version this movie resulted to be.

The original movie attempted to kill Alex Murphy in such a way that you really wanted him to get vengeance and justice against the perpetrators. You can almost say that Clarence Boddicker, played by the awesome Kurtwood Smith, defined Murphy as a character through his tragedy (like some of our other beloved comic book characters). Something that was not really felt in this film, at least not with the simplest of car bombs; the deed was done quickly, and the audience is left with the torment of his family to define the situation. The enemy, Antoine Vallon, was a very normal, boring, and one dimensional mix of both Boddicker and Kain, from RoboCop 2. If anything, the real villains you felt more anger towards in this remake were Raymond Sellars and Officer Andre Daniels.

Equally as one dimensional, and underdeveloped, were how RoboCop gets nearly destroyed in his quest for vengeance against the men that killed him. In this case, the man who wanted Murphy's death, as Vallon had to be convinced to kill him by other cops. It’s a bit of A.D.D. when it comes to what the story was trying to develop and convey in terms of who is really the antagonist.

I attribute much of these issues with the fact that the film is PG-13, and when you can’t simply sprawl the enemy with a number of bullets, you have to creatively tell the story in other ways to fit the pieces. Which isn’t a bad thing, telling a story. But it can get muddled in the need to add twists and turns for the sake of adding them, and for the sake of maintaining a PG-13 rating.

The Great

“Dead or Alive, You’re coming with me!”
I expected some explosions, action, more “GET DOWN AGAIN!” style action. But I got a very-easily-stated-to-be-exciting set of action sequences that were not necessarily jaw dropping, per say. However, they were extremely satisfying. Specifically, the opening combat sequence, and the late in the film re-envisioned battle sequence with the E.D. 209’s…yes, that’s plural. There were a few of them for Alex to fight, and it did not let up, or let down, as both terms seem to work in this description.

In general, the action, and the faster moving, more agile RoboCop in the film were exciting to see. The suit was gorgeous, as were the other Mechs, including the E.D. 209 designs. My hats off to the digital artists that put all of this material together with such detail and beauty.

…and, Amazing?

“I wouldn’t buy that for a dollar!”
Samuel L. Jackson in this film is pretty much a stroke of genius, as far as name drops are concerned toward marketing the film. He fits in “his” role perfectly. Rather I should say Stephen Fry’s character from “V For Vendetta” which almost aptly could describe Mr. Jackson’s, Pat Novak, character. While I can almost with certainty see this for what it is, I have no proof. I did mention the director possibly using Alan Moore as an inspiration, perhaps there is a bigger pattern. But there is something to be said about how the character was played. You can see this archetypal character in a variety of films. Most recently, in the “Hunger Games” franchise with Stanley Tucci. In the 80’s with “The Running Man” with Damon Killian, played by Richard Dawson, (a film released a few months later from the original RoboCop in 1987). Among other characters played in this manner.

The production even let Mr. Jackson say “Motherfucker” and “Bullshit” in his signature scream! That has to count for something.

Jackie Earle Haley also seemed to sometimes channel a character from one of his fellow co-stars. That of Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg. Don’t remember the character played by Gary Oldman in the 1995 “The Fifth Element”? The inflections in Mr. Haley’s accent, the slightly higher pitched voice. Perhaps it’s that I’ve worked with voice actors and have done voice work myself that things like this seem apparent to me. But knowing the usual voice we hear Haley using, it’s too easily dismissed as coincidental that he ends up working with Mr. Oldman, and uses the same vocal inflection and accent we heard used by Mr. Oldman (so interestingly) in that particular cult classic.

While his voice was interesting, Mr. Haley was also a fantastic character that wasn’t necessarily a villain, but wasn’t really a good guy either. He played this character beautifully.

What Might have Hurt This Film…
I’ve played the Devil’s advocate plenty of times arguing both sides of the R vs. PG-13 debate. I’m not necessarily sure if it is going to hurt the film, because the argument at its core would lose more of the hardcore fandom, not the mainstream. However in terms of the artistic value of retelling a story that’s been already done; the argument itself is whether or not it should be done, and artistic value is not really the strong point. I would have preferred an R rating for many reasons. But I like my violent action movies violent. I think that while this is a good remake, it's a satisfying action flick. It could have been far better if it maintained a variety of the key elements that made the original movie; while cheesy yes, still a great film. From the stoic, specific, and purposeful speaking Old Man, the interactions Murphy had with his fellow officers, the awkward tension built up with his partner Lewis, and the struggle to be human, to eventually reconnect with his family.

While it may not have hurt this film much, I wonder why a minor cameo by Peter Weller, the original RoboCop wasn’t in place. Hell, I’d have cast him as the new Old Man! Maybe we’ll see him in a sequel.

The 80’s are gone, and so is the magic that made many of its movies great. This one will probably be fine, if it survives the box office, but I think I’ll be re-watching the original more often than I would this one.

Overall Verdict?
I enjoyed the film, it has a lot of potential as a revival of a franchise for a modern audience, and I expect if it can muster the box office numbers to justify two more sequels, that those sequels will definitely improve upon the franchise. Even RoboCop 2 was an amazing film and cult classic in itself. I’d only hope if this rebooted franchise can make it to its trilogy, that it ends up being a much better third installment from the original, which was a bit of a stinker.

It’s missing some key elements that I was hoping for, but it still provided for a great movie going experience. New and younger audience members that have no ties to the original, like us old fogeys, should relatively enjoy the film without too many qualms. More than likely, calling us (the older generation) crazy for holding onto the nostalgia of the original.

If you don’t like to spend money at the theaters, wait for the Blu-ray, it is at least worth the Redbox rental fee. If you love the theater experience, this movie is perfect for IMAX and DBOX viewing. EDIT: If you're like me and like your violent movies to be violent, and prefer an R rated 'Action Sci-Fi' experience, you may think this one is a pass at the theater.

3.5 out of 5 Comic Book Movie Geeks will love it, the rest of us would rather watch the original I-II

Have you seen RoboCop yet? Are you planning to? Did this review help you? Do you agree or disagree? I want to hear from you! Comment, share, tweet, pin, form your words, “Dead or Alive, you’re going to share your opinion!”, whatever tickles your fancy. @EmanuelFCamacho
Posted By:
E.F. "Manny" Camacho
Member Since 8/20/2013
Filed Under "Robocop" 2/12/2014 Source: From the voice in my head
DISCLAIMER: is protected under the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) and... [MORE]
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Cayo - 2/12/2014, 11:18 PM
3.5 is good enough for me. I never got to watch the original so I'm looking forward to seeing how this'll turn out.
incepshawn - 2/12/2014, 11:22 PM
Well put together review. So, you went to an UltraStar theater I'm guessing based on the seats?

I grew up on the original and loved this film. 4/5 for me. I liked that Padilha actually fleshed Murphy out as a human and gave more focus on his family. Love Kinnaman and hope this film does well and leads to more roles for him
Humperdink - 2/12/2014, 11:26 PM
What the heck, I'll check it out if I have time to kill.
It's probably something I can wait for but I think this review is probably very accurate to how I would feel.
efcamachopmp - 2/12/2014, 11:29 PM
@AgentEX Cobb :)
TheAstoundingMan - 2/12/2014, 11:33 PM
Great review. I must admit that I haven't even seen the original. I will still wait for the DVD on this one, but I will also be sure to watch it before I turn to the original.
faazil786 - 2/12/2014, 11:56 PM
i saw it and loved it.
pesmerga44 - 2/13/2014, 12:04 AM
I wouldn't say loving the original Robocop is nostalgia Robocop is just legitimately one of the best action and sci-fi movies of all time. On top of all that it was a smart and pretty dark movie. If you actually look back and re watch the movie OCP the bad guys at the end of the movie still win. They pretty much own Detroit and their plans to convert it to Delta City aren't really stopped. Also while they are technically the bad guys besides Dick Jones they aren't your typical evil businessmen and businesswomen of the 80's they were just a businessmen and businesswomen.
technodrome518 - 2/13/2014, 12:10 AM
I found the action very entertaining but most of the characters you just didn't care about. No growth. They cast Alex perfectly. Overall it's about what I expected from it. I agree with pretty much all of this review.
pesmerga44 - 2/13/2014, 12:14 AM
I will say one thing that completely bugs me about the new Robocop is that no matter how I look at him he looks like a guy in a Rubber suit especially when the visor comes up the suit comes off the skin it looks like a rubber suit. Compare that to the 80's Robocop when his helmet came off he looked like a cyborg there was no doubt he was a cyborg compare the two.

2014 Robocop

1987 Robocop

Peter Weller looked like a cyborg the new Robocop just looks rubbery.
efcamachopmp - 2/13/2014, 12:19 AM
@Pesmerga44 I see what you mean, but I wouldn't call RoboCop the best Action Sci-Fi movies of all time...that's a pretty big statement.

I'd say that about Terminator 2, Aliens, Predator, maybe the first Terminator because of what it started. RoboCop was a great action sci-fi film in 1987, but it was a gore-fest filled with hilarious one-liners, campy bad guys that actually had some back story, and a lot of what was done in the film was iconic. RoboCop 2 is arguably a better film...but this is all debatable. The term I chose so it wasn't a hardcoded statement to categorize most of us that love that film is Nostalgia. It's me being passively PC.

pesmerga44 - 2/13/2014, 12:20 AM

I didn't say best I said one of the best
efcamachopmp - 2/13/2014, 12:21 AM
@Pesmer yep. You can see his mouthpiece move in a very rubbery manner. We can't tell if that part is supposed to be soft or metallic. I attribute this to the color choices. He looks much much better in the steel/chrome color scheme as opposed to the "Tactical Black"

efcamachopmp - 2/13/2014, 12:23 AM
bah Typo, I missed adding "One of" to that sentence, it's why the word "movies" is plural...derp (I need sleep).
goatman - 2/13/2014, 12:23 AM
Thanks Manny. Good article, as usual.

I am big fan of the original RoboCop film, Peter Weller and Paul Verhoeven. But I had made up my mind about seeing this soon because of Joel Kinnaman. He was awesome in The Killing, Safehouse and The Darkest Hour. Don't remember him from the original Dragon Tattoo, but I'm sure he was good in that as well.

Your review put my mind at ease, however, and now I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy the movie for what it is... a different take and a competent reboot.
pesmerga44 - 2/13/2014, 12:25 AM

I would actually put it above those movies the reason why is because unlike those movies Robocop is also a satire on American culture that is still very much prevalent. The randomly placed commercials were a satire of how the average American is dumb down by television much like in the book 1984. Also how much of our world now is controlled by corporations hell look at Detroit today it is bankrupt it might well be bought out by a corporation and made into a real life Delta City.
technodrome518 - 2/13/2014, 12:42 AM
This reboot was lacking the dark humorous side that I remember from the trilogy. I was waiting for those tv commercials to pop up, but they never did. Oh well it was still a nice start to hopefully a franchise. I'd like to see where they could take it.
Ceejay - 2/13/2014, 12:50 AM
His suit looked amazing, the only people who have a problem with it are those who still think metals have to look like shiny objects in order to be real. These same people simply haven't embraced the fact that in this day and age metallic compounds are used to for a lot of things and no longer retain that old school junkyard metal look. The same goes for polycarbonite type tough yet flexible based plastics. The new suit is a sign of tech, the old Robocop suit was very much a product of its time along with his corny walk. Sure fanboys love the nostalgia of these elements but we make robots today that can walk, run and ride bikes simulating human movement perfectly, no advanced tech is going to put a robot on the street that walks like a motorized toy!

Nostalgia is the biggest enemy when watching a remake, there is no point to doing a remake unless you re-imagine enough of the original to allow the movie to stand on its own merit. A majority of reviews on the new Robocop simply miss that fact and slate the movie for not being exactly like the original. The original was a budget film that was meant as a one off. The popularity on VHS meant the studio forced it into franchise territory and they spawned two awful sequels that tried to mimic the style of the original.

This new film is made with the possibility of sequels in mind therefore it does more to focus on the core characters for recurring roles rather than the gung-ho satire style of the original that simply tried to pack as much in 90 minutes as it can for entertainment. Not that the new film is not entertaining, it is! But the movie is not a R-rated gore fest for cult audiences, this one is marketed for a more universal audience like a superhero franchise. Nobody who goes into the cinema holding onto love-letters from the original is going to enjoy it as much of those who simply pass off the original as a fun film from the past that was fun for its time. The theme of the story is the same, the structure is not, it's a re-imagining so don't expect the same characters or situations.

For me the original is a way more entertaining movie but the new version is a far more better told story with more grounded characters in comparison to the comic level caricatures of the first. Where as the original was tainted by its sequels, the new movie will probably be bolstered by its franchise follow-ups to deliver a more progressive and entertaining collection if it manages to make the box office to continue the plan. 7/10
PenditaMarah - 2/13/2014, 12:50 AM
the first robocop i watched was in around 1991 and it really blew me away,as a kid at that time and instanly become a fan of paul verhoven's.after 20 years hollywood decided to remake the robocop which is gaves me different feedback from my mind.....just watched it last week and i think it was great and entertaining,despite a few weak plot.for me,im goin to give 4/5.
PenditaMarah - 2/13/2014, 12:51 AM

well said and i agree some of your points.
Newbus - 2/13/2014, 12:53 AM
Excellent review. Like the original maybe this film is a sign of the times where everything is sanitised and dumbed down.
NoPhucksGiven - 2/13/2014, 1:11 AM
Oh look another remake of a beloved classic. The film industry has lost all sense of originality.
REPOMAN - 2/13/2014, 1:22 AM

The big problem with the new RoboCop film is it doesn't know what story it's supposed to be telling; is it a story about Drones and foreign policy or is it about a Cyborg cop who patrols Detroit. It serves neither threads particularly well and is a script that is very much half-baked. The original is streets ahead in terms of its storytelling economy- like Alex Murphy at the end of the Verhoeven film, it knows what it is, and that starts with a solid script.

The unfortunate thing is the film has cost way too much -even with inflation it has a budget about 3-4 times that of the original- and being in the (these days) less successful bästard genre of action-sci-fi is unlikely to make enough money for sequels.

GUNSMITH - 2/13/2014, 2:00 AM

PenditaMarah - 2/13/2014, 2:07 AM
people who thinks that this movie sucks,need to watch this new interpretation of robocop.the design was cool,even the original robocop 1989 design made a cameo and the action was good,very good.before bashing this movie,people who said "this movie sucks" or "i love the original one,no need to watch the reboot" need to be more open minded.i suggest you to watch this new robocop.
GUNSMITH - 2/13/2014, 2:52 AM
havoc9987 - 2/13/2014, 3:17 AM
If they make a sequel just stick with the silver suit it was badass. The black suit was okay and looked much better in the movie but the silver looked awesome. A real villain is also needed but overall it was a really good movie and deserves to be a success. Fans of the original (myself included) should support this film and no matter what the the 87 Robocop will always be there no one is taking it away from you.
WarmAndGushy - 2/13/2014, 4:22 AM
Looking forward to this now.The original ROBOCOP is apart of my childhood,and will always be,however I can watch a new interpretation it want affect the cult status of the original.
diomc - 2/13/2014, 4:26 AM
Totally rubbery...

solidsnakeeyes - 2/13/2014, 4:26 AM
Well said ceejay.

Don't worry about the black suit guys, Murphy will use the original back at the end - 100% percent sure. I know , I've seen it.
MarVell - 2/13/2014, 4:41 AM
Good review. Though I have low expectation for this Robo-remake, I plane to see it this weekend.

JoeMomma29 - 2/13/2014, 5:57 AM
I saw the movie last night with my kids and we loved it. I like how they redid the story and yet still paid homage to the original movie. Also not to spoil anything but when they show Murphy that his a cyborg it blew my mind. Anyways people need to give this movie a chance, do not expect a masterpiece but at the same time this movie is not garbage either.
thewolfx - 2/13/2014, 6:37 AM
This movie was ok..

For the sequel.. if they get to make one

Better be rated R this was a reall pussified version of robo

It was entertaining but it had no balls

I am glad the rubber suit is gone n hes back to silver.. which begs the question why not keepit silver the whole movie.
JoeMomma29 - 2/13/2014, 7:03 AM

Because the CEO of OmniCorp wanted something tactical so they made his suit black.
MrCBM56 - 2/13/2014, 7:09 AM
I liked it. Didn't love it didn't hate it. 3/5 stars.
beane2099 - 2/13/2014, 7:18 AM
I liked this movie. When I see a remake I always try to leave the original version out of mental sight. Judging this on its own merits I think they did a great job fleshing out Murphy, his family and Dr. Oldman (at this point he's just Gary Oldman to me). But there were some missed opportunities. Antoine Vallon was lame as far as villains go. He really didn't do much. Murphy's death carried little emotional impact in the movie because th audience knows that has to happen - it's part of the story. Obviously they couldn't show Murphy being shot to pieces but his death should have been more personal. That's why the scene where he confronts his killer was muted (but still a great action piece). There were a few other things that bugged me but I liked it overall.
Marxman12 - 2/13/2014, 7:44 AM
@thewolfx Had no balls? Are you kidding me? Unlike the original, we actually see how little of Alex Murphy's humanity remains.
While far from perfect, this new Rob Copa maintains the same emotional intensity as the original.
Marxman12 - 2/13/2014, 7:45 AM
^^^Damn auto correct!
JoeMomma29 - 2/13/2014, 7:55 AM
@ Gusto

I tried to find your cameo in the movie since it was shot in Detroit but they did not feature any homeless people in the movie.
NebulaFields - 2/13/2014, 7:59 AM
Looks pretty cool, man.
batman0069 - 2/13/2014, 8:12 AM
New robocop remake total piece of trash
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