Sunday, February 23, 2014

Let's Review: Robocop

I am a huge Robocop fan. As I write this review I am rocking out to the original theme music, why you may ask? Because it rocks that’s why! (That and the new film only used it twice and got it stuck in my head). I was really nervous about this film. I love Robocop and I didn’t want another bad film to tarnish his name like Robocop 3 did. Was I disappointed in this remake of an awesome classic? Let’s review Robocop.

The Negative

There is a significantly slower plot movement after Alex Murphy is transformed into Robocop. The film just slows to a grinding halt at this point. The original film barely went into the details of his construction and training, but this new film wants to nail in every single moment. I understand that the film wanted to go through this process to fully explain what was happening in this plotline and how it was different from the original film, but hurry it up a little. The second we see him as Robocop, we want to see him patrolling the streets of Detroit, but this film just took its time getting there. Way too slow.

I hate to keep comparing to the original film, but this is a remake, it’s simply going to happen. The original film was filled to the brim with the corruption that was flowing through society, bureaucrats, and politicians. This new film still has that, but it is significantly toned down. The original Robocop always felt like he was sitting in a den of snakes, the only trustworthy person with him was his partner Lewis, in the new film, Robocop has a lot more allies and it just seems like a friendlier film. The brutality of the world that the original Robocop existed in justified his existence; the new film has very obvious snakes in the grass and very obvious golden people who you can always rely on and I feel that the film is worse off for it.

Why did they have to switch the gender of Robocop’s partner? There are significantly more male action heroes out there than there are female action heroes. I think it is a very big issue in writing right now, that stories have men outnumber women 10-1. There is actually only 4 important female characters in this film and that is being generous with the word important. To be fair they also switched the Detroit police chief into a female character, but I feel as though the loss of Anne Lewis is more significant than the barely present police chief. The original Robocop is one of my all time favorite films and I really like the fact that it has a powerful female action hero as Robocop’s partner. I honestly feel that ‘Jack Lewis’ in the new film didn't add anything crucial to the role that required him to be male. He just felt like a placeholder for the buddy cop role. The fact is we need more strong female roles in stories, and the character of Officer Anne Lewis was sorely missed in this remake.

The Positive

The human element is significantly amped up in this remake. A major change to the plot is that OmniCorp has the ability to switch off Robocop’s emotional human side, and turn on an efficient killing machine to tackle the crime in the city at any time. This plot was never explored in the original series. Alex Murphy’s family are major characters in this story when they barely appeared in the original. I loved that this was the plot they decided to explore with this remake as this was something that they couldn’t actually explore with the original series. In the original Robocop film, Murphy is already the emotionless Robocop right from the get go and his family had moved away. This film shows the actual grieving family and Murphy’s problems with trying to be the man he was while still being over-written by OmniCorp’s programming and it is used to brilliant effect.

The action scenes were AWESOME! Just like zombies before him, Robocop has finally learned to run. The original Robocop was a walking tank that efficiently took out every enemy as he made his way across the battlefield, this Robocop does that…but at the blinding speed of a NINJA! The fight scenes are unfortunately few and far between, but when they do show up they are a spectacle to watch, especially one of the final fight scenes where Robocop takes on a swarm of ED-209s. In the original series Robocop never really fought ED-209 one on one in a real fight, but here Robocop lets them have it and it is amazing.

In Conclusion

This could have been much worse. It seems today that all the film industry seems to be putting out is remakes, and many of them haven’t been very good. This film, I feel, actually explores something that the original couldn’t have and I believe that it pulls that off really well. This could have easily just have been a rehash of the original but for better or for worse this film really tries to break the mold of the original without tarnishing its legacy. This is what a reboot should do, it should explore new territory without breaking the original intent and that is what this film accomplishes for the most part. If you are a Robocop fan like I am, perhaps you will enjoy it as much as I have. 4 out of 5.