RoboCop is one of the most iconic action films of all-time, showing off the capitalist greed of the 1980s whilst containing some of the most violent scenes committed to film at the time, not least when ED-209 goes a little ka-ka and obliterates one of OCP’s employees during a test run. It certainly earned it’s 18-certificate, and that was proved when ITV broadcasted it while they were still heavily censoring films, with that scene massively cut as well as all of the language, with Dick Jones fuming, “Sometimes, they even called me *airhead*!” when he obviously meant something else.
The sequel, however, was just terrible, and when RoboCop 3 came round, with Peter Weller replaced by indie actor Robert Burke, the violence had been toned down and the certificate was lowered from 18 to a 15. Then came the short-lived TV series, where the metal cop disabled bad guys, not by killing them, but by, say, shooting a pile of boxes which just falls *on* to them. So when a remake was announced, and that it was going to be a 12-cert, this seemed like the worst idea in the history of ideas. 12A is rubbish for a RoboCop film. It sounds like Die Hard 5 all over again.
Some 18-rated films these days are resubmitted for an uncut 15-cert if they’re shown again in the cinema, like the first 2 Die Hard films, and even the third film is now an uncut 15. For RoboCop, I guess even if the original would still be an 18 for the ED-209 scene alone, along with Miguel Ferrer’s nose candy.
Anyhoo, can this remake win me over? I’ll give any film a fair crack of the whip, even one with a tough row to hoe as with this.
This RoboCop is set in 2028 and opens with a news crew in Tehran filming a city being patrolled and apparently protected by roaming ED-209s and some lesser robots. Local suicide bombers want to make their point while getting on camera, however, so things aren’t going to end well for those selfish, deluded twats. Looking forward to those 72 virgins you were promised? Jeez, someone saw you coming! The only thing any of us have to look forward to once we shuffle off our mortal coil is absolutely nothing, so, in the immortal words of Vanilla Ice, “check yourself before yo wreck yourself!”
Since the latest polls show up that most Americans don’t want robot cops patrolling the streets, as they can’t convey any emotions and have no conscience, what happened in Tehran isn’t expect to play out in Detroit any time soon, so OCP CEO Raymond Sellars’ (Michael Keaton) big idea is to put a man in a machine because people will only truly appreciate a real human on the beat. Really? Does that also include the soulless time-wasters at Greater Manchester Police?
Joel Kinnaman can’t act his way out of a paper bag. Okay, Peter Weller wasn’t exactly the most expressive actor around but at least he carried a certain gravitas.
Everyone else onscreen is similarly just going through the motions as if they can’t wait until their next break for a meal is due, whether it’s Gary Oldman as the doctor in charge of it all, OCP head Keaton, Abbie Cornish boring us to tears as the dutiful wife, Jennifer Ehle giving her most wooden appearance to date as an OCP bigwig, and even Michael K. Williams, once so good as Omar Little in The Wire, here playing Murphy’s partner, Jack Lewis.
Aimee Garcia also pops up as Oldman’s underling, Jae Kim. Fans of Dexter will remember her as Jamie the nanny, as well as Angel’s daughter. She’s still achingly hot.
There’s a grim moment not too far in, after Alex becomes RoboCop, where he gets to see just how much of his original body is left. I guess today’s 12A is more like a 15-cert back from when the original film was released, so they can get away with more than they could for such a low certificate back then – even though the ’12’ wasn’t introduced until 1989, but you get the idea – but the violence is still toned down considerably. There’s none of Verhoeven’s OTT gore on display, here.
There’s also an obligatory nod back to the “I’d buy that for a dollar!” and “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me” lines, as well as the thundering theme tune, but as for RoboCop 2014 as a whole, it comes across as a completely pointless remake. You just can’t top perfection and I don’t know why they even bothered to try. As the recent Godzilla reboot proved, making such a film way too serious with precious little in the way of comedic quips will leave you with a film that will soon be forgotten. Both took up a similar amount of screen time, and although there was a lot of gunfire and explosions going on all over the place, neither director managed to create any real excitement. Just how is that possible, given the source material?!
This RoboCop seems to look more into the character of the man-turned-robot, stopping occasionally to show news discussion programme of the day, The Novak Element, hosted by Pat Novak (Samuel L Jackson), rather than showing us any real violence.
Riding around on his motorbike, he looks less like RoboCop and more like Street Hawk (anyone else remember that?)
Oh, and I have to take issue with the scene where Murphy, in full human form, is being fired upon with a semi-automatic rifle, yet he’s covering himself with a wheelie rubbish bin! Sure, they’re made out of metal, but they certainly aren’t bullet proof! Still, that’s Hollywood for you.
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen theatrical ratio and is in 1080p high definition. The picture on the disc is faultless, showing off the futuristic landscapes perfectly, but you wouldn’t expect anything less from a modern action movie. Note that an IMAX version was released in cinemas, but since none of the film was shot in IMAX, what on earth was the point of that other than a money-making exercise?
The sound is in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and sounds fine for explosions and gunfire all over the shop, but while it’s loud, it’s not a reference disc and isn’t one you’ll be using to demonstrate your AV setup to your friends.
The extras are as follows:
- Deleted Scenes (4:01): There are 5 of them here, but they’re all very brief and there’s nothing crying out to be re-included in the film.
- Omnicorp Corporate (3:43): 10 brief pieces (not even featurettes) concentrating on the suit, the robots, the weapons and “Next Generation RoboCop”. They look like a sort-of in-house video from OCP but are all way too short to be of any real use.
- The Illusion of Free Will (7:46): Key cast and crew soundbites are mixed in with clips from the film in a puff piece where they try to make it sound like they were doing something new with this remake. The clips of the original that they show just makes you want to take this disc out and put that one in, instead.
- To Serve and Protect (6:06): More of the same, but a look at the weaponry used in the film.
- The RoboCop Suit (14:54): Guess what this segment’s about?
- Trailer (2:14): In the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio.
- Audio description: Describes the film… audiobly.
The menu mixes clips from the film with a piece of the incidental music. There are subtitles in English, and when it comes to the chaptering, I feel one should come every five minutes on average. Studiocanal, have finally listened to me – I hope – because they up their game from the usual 12 to a healthy 32! Please keep it like this!!
Once again, Studiocanal put trailers (AND an advert!) before the main menu. These should go in the extras section, hence I won’t publicise them here.
Running time: 117 minutes
Released: June 9th 2014
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (ARRIRAW (2.8K) & Redcode RAW (5K))
Disc Format: BD50
Director: José Padilha
Producers: Marc Abraham and Eric Newman
Screenplay: Joshua Zetumer
Music: Pedro Bromfman
Alex Murphy/RoboCop: Joel Kinnaman
Dr. Dennett Norton: Gary Oldman
Raymond Sellars: Michael Keaton
Clara Murphy: Abbie Cornish
Rick Mattox: Jackie Earle Haley
Jack Lewis: Michael K. Williams
Liz Kline: Jennifer Ehle
Tom Pope: Jay Baruchel
Chief Karen Dean: Marianne Jean-Baptiste
Pat Novak: Samuel L. Jackson
Jae Kim: Aimee Garcia
Mayor Durant: Douglas Urbanski
David Murphy: John Paul Ruttan
Antoine Vallon: Patrick Garrow
Senator Hubert Dreyfuss: Zach Grenier
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.