Thursday, February 13, 2014

Movie Review -- Robocop

Today we have the remake of the 1987 movie Robocop, this time starring Joel Kinnaman. Updated to appeal to modern sensibilities, does the reboot cut it?

Like the original, this new version takes place in futuristic Detroit. Average cop Alex Murphy (Kinnaman instead of Peter Weller) and his partner Lewis (Michael K. Williams instead of Nancy Allen) are investigating guns stolen from the police department. Their search leads them to bad guy Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow). During a shoot-out, Lewis is wounded and sent to a hospital. Determined to finish the job, Vallon has Murphy car-bombed. Things look dire at this point. Fortunately, OmniCorp CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) sees an opportunity to introduce Americans to the future of law enforcement. He convinces scientist Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) to remake Murphy as an ass-kicking cyborg. Unlike the original, they try to keep his humanity intact in the process. However, this new Robocop is still very defiant, continually fighting his programming. In addition to fighting crime, he also sets out to avenge his own murder. But when he starts threatening OmniCorp interests, they'll go to any length to stop him.

Robocop is a fun popcorn movie,but that's about it. If it didn't have the Robocop license, it'd just be another sci-fi movie. Whereas the original was an intensely violent satire of American culture, the remake doesn't really have a voice. And while the new cyborg policeman is sleek and agile, he reminds me too much of another slick robo-hero. With the Iron Man movies still fresh in our minds, it's hard to get excited over an imitator like the new Robocop. Also, a big part of the original was Murphy's struggle to regain his humanity, something the remake just doesn't deliver on.

But lest you think it's all bad, there are some good points to this film. There are more varieties of machines than in the original (even if the ED-209s aren't nearly as menacing), including androids and deadly military drones. The CG is also cool, and I like the fact the soundtrack features Basil Poledouris' awesome Robocop theme.

Bottom line: It's not a bad movie by any means, but it can't compete with the original. Nostalgia is a force to be reckoned with.

"Dead or alive, you are coming with me."

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