Director: José Padilha
Writers: Joshua Zetumer, Edward Neumeier, Michael Miner
Cast: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish, Jackie Earle Haley, Michael K. Williams, Jennifer Ehle, Jay Baruchel, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Aimee Garcia, Douglas Urbanski, John Paul Ruttan, Patrick Garrow, K.C. Collins
Synopsis: In 2028 Detroit, when Alex Murphy - a loving husband, father and good cop - is critically injured in the line of duty, the multinational conglomerate OmniCorp sees their chance for a part-man, part-robot police officer.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action including frenetic gun violence throughout, brief strong language, sensuality and some drug material
-Great visual effects
-Great action scenes
-Sound mixing and sound editing were done fairly well
-Good fight choreography
-Satire of the media and American global influence on the world vs. public perception
- Solid acting performances from Abbie Cornish, Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman, Jackie Earle Haley, Samuel L. Jackson, and Joel Kinnaman
-Michael K. Williams' acting performance was downright terrible
-Villains were vastly underdeveloped
-Fails to capture the essence of Alex Murphy's struggle between being turned into a machine as well as the original
-Story takes forever to get going
- The relationship between Robocop and his partner is played up to be bland and cliche. Whereas the original film, there was at least something of a close relationship.
Freeze Dirt Bag! You're under arrest!
"Robocop" was a classic 80's film that was perfect in it's own way. It was not only a great science fiction movie about a man losing his humanity after being transformed into a machine, but it also served as a great satire for own world at the time. Sure, the special effects are kind of dated by today's standards, but the overall film itself is a timeless classic.
However, in an age where reboots and remakes have become more popular, it was only a matter of time before somebody was going to try to reboot this franchise. Enter the new "Robocop" movie of 2014. Does it hold a candle to the original? Or is it just another dud trying to capitalize on an established brand name? Well, let's find out.
Before I begin this review, I know a lot of people complained about the rating for this reboot being a "Pg-13" one versus an "R-rated one; which the original one boasted. However, the thing we have to keep in mind is that even though the violence did do a lot to set the tone of the original, the reality is there's nothing about the story that requires that level of violence to tell it. If anything, you can easily tell "Robocop's" story without the graphic violence of an "R-rated" film. In fact, this reboot almost does a good job at doing that, but it falls short in certain areas that quite frankly have nothing to do with the level of violence in it. However, if you are one of these fans that feel the level of violence is a key essential element to Robocop's story, then I guess it's worth pointing out.
Like the original, Alex Murphy is murdered by some guy that he was in pursuit after. But unlike the original where he was shot several times to death, this time he dies via bomb implanted in his car. Hence, you don't see as much blood and gore like we saw in the original, when he dies. Meanwhile, Omnicorp is a multi-billion dollar robot company that issues various war droids for the United States military. Throughout the world, these droids patrol the streets of various Islamic nations, to keep them in line.
Although Omnicorp and the military claim it's for the better good, and it's for their own protection, we can definitely see that it's more like oppression than anything else. Using fear tactics to keep people in line, and showing how America is slowly becoming the harsh dictatorship that we once fought desperately against to gain our independence. The film does a great job satirizing this aspect of our own society.
Plus, Samuel L. Jackson's portrayal of a biased media outlet distorting the facts in favor of big corporations, by telling us only what we want hear, is a nice touch as well. In fact, when I first heard that the film was going to emphasize more on Robocop's struggle keeping his humanity, I was worried that the satire part of the original would be non existent in the reboot. However, I'm glad I was proven wrong on that point.
The technical aspects for this film are simply amazing. Everything from the sound mixing, sound editing, cinematography, to even visual effects were nicely done Not to mention, the fight choreography was vastly superior to the original's slow moving action scenes.
As far as acting goes, I thought most of them did their jobs rather well. Michael Keaton manages to bring a sly douchebag manipulative businessman archetype to the role. Although his part was written rather poorly, you can at least tell he tries to bring some credibility to the role. Jay Baruschel brings in some much needed comedy relief, as the sniveling publicist for Omnicorp.
Abbie Cornish, Gary Oldman and Joel Kinnaman all add the much needed depth this film needs; while Jackie Earle Haley plays the smart a** antagonistic a**hole like nobody's business. However, the rest of the actors are fairly forgettable in this movie, and Michael K. Williams does a horrendous job in his part.
Granted, it's not entirely his fault, as his character was tragically underdeveloped. However,some of the lines he says are blatant stereotypes of what you'd expect black characters in the 90's to say. Not what you'd expect to hear in a 21st century film. For example, when Omnicorp changes the color of Robocop's armor to black, Michael K. Williams' character makes a comment saying, "At least, you're the right color now." Get it? Because Michael K. Williams is black, and Robocop's armor is now black. Gee, why is that if Robocop's armor was painted white, and a white guy says that exact same line, then it would be considered racist? Yet, if a black guy does it, then it's fine? Seriously, what gives? Take in mind, I'm a minority myself, and even I found that statement to be a racist.
However, the worst part about Michael K. Williams' character, Jack Lewis, is that he has barely any emotional connection with Alex Murphy at all. For those of you who saw the original, one of the best aspects to "Robocop" is the relationship that he had with his partner. Sure, they had more of a sibling relationship in the original, but Alex's old partner was portrayed as his last link to humanity. She was like a big sister to Robocop. Whereas the reboot, they changed his partner from a white girl to a black guy, and then made their relationship to be more like they're buddies. Granted, that could still work, but since they share very little screen time together, it almost seems like that one aspect that made the original so great is no longer there anymore.
But then again, that might explain why they gave Alex's wife a bigger role in this retelling of Robocop's story. For those of you who never saw the original, Alex's family moved on after he died, and got resurrected as Robocop. In fact, he never saw them again. This later helped the audience feel sorry for Robocop in the sense that he not only might've lost his humanity, but everything he might've cared about as well. He literally had nothing left, yet he still found the inner strength to regain his humanity, after being turned into a machine.
It was a touching story about a man turned machine trying desperately to regain his humanity, after he lost everything in his life. In fact, that's what made his friendship with his partner so strong because she was literally the only thing he had left in this life. His last link to his humanity if you will.
However, this new reboot takes a different route to where even after Alex gets turned into a machine, he still retains his humanity, and it shows him slowly becoming the Robocop that old school fans used to love. Um...clever? Don't get me wrong, it's a clever concept to say the least; especially if you're trying to retell the same origin story in a different light. However, it fails to capture the struggle that the original had going for it.
Plus, in the reboot, they made it seem like Omnicorp can wipe away Alex's personality, and memories anytime they want. Not mention, they can even shut him off as well. Whereas in the original, this wasn't the case. Therefore, this makes the whole concept of Murphy keeping his humanity seem all the less relevant because at the end of the day, he's still at the mercy of Omnicorp, or whoever the hell else programs him. Whereas the original, they couldn't wipe away his humanity that easily. Sure, he was still a tool of the system, but they could never take away who he was.
It's almost like the illusion of free will that Gary Oldman mentioned earlier about Robocop. Is that the point of the film? Is free will nothing more than an illusion? Whatever the case may be, it almost seems like the filmmakers behind this film failed to capture the inner struggle of Robocop to some degree. Granted, it's a unique concept to work with, but it just falls short on execution in a lot of ways.
Of course, none of this helps when you have a movie that takes forever to get going, as the beginning has very slow pacing. Add in the fact that you have poorly written villains in this feature that range from being bland generic stereotypes, to being downright uninteresting.
Overall, I wouldn't call this new retelling of "Robocop" a bad movie by any means. It just fails to live up to the original in a lot of ways. And while it did present a lot of interesting ideas, it just falls a bit short on execution in a lot of areas. It's certainly worth a rental if you want to check it out, but I just wouldn't expect too much out of it.
Robocop TV series intro
© 2014 Steven Escareno