RoboCop (2014) – Review – RoboFail



Directed by José Padilha Written by Joshua Zetumer
Starring Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton

117 mins - Action | Sci-Fi - Release date: 12 February 2014

No one at Yell! Magazine wanted to see the RoboCop remake, so I finally bit the bullet, took one for the team, fell on the grenade, and saw it. I kind of wish I could burn the memory from my mind, like I did with A Serbian Film, it was that bad. No, no, don’t get me wrong; RoboCop wasn’t bad because of the blood, violence, and gore, there wasn’t any — and that’s precisely the movie’s problem.

I don’t usually complain about a film’s rating, but having a PG-13 rating really hurt RoboCop. How could José Padilha and company expect moviegoers to accept any less than the blood and violence set in the Paul Verhoeven original? The precedent had been set 25 years earlier and fans deserved better. In fact, Verhoeven had to cut scenes to drop his film from an X rating to an R rating — that’s freakin’ hardcore.

OK, one could argue that shooting for a PG-13 rating would open the film up to a broader audience, but coming from someone who was 13 when the original was released, we found a god damn way to see it in all its blood-soaked glory. The taboo in America isn’t fucking violence, it’s the far more natural and docile tits and ass… so what’s the bloody problem? Why not up the ante, or at least make it as brutal as the original?

It was talked about prior to the movie’s release how the new RoboCop focussed on the family element, which it did, and it was good. However, it was hard to get behind this angle since Padilha failed to create any sort of empathy for Alex Murphy/RoboCop (Joel Kinnaman). It was cool how Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) made Murphy realize his new self by disassembling him in front of a mirror, and it was mildly dramatic.

There aren’t any real villains in RoboCop 2014 either, not like Clarence J. Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) or Dick Jones (Ronny Cox) in the original. It’s a shame, really, to not have loathsome characters that you want to see take a toxic acid bath.

robocop - toxic guy

Of course the United States was villainized as a global police force, which I guess is the modern-day equivalent to the greed and corruption of corporate America. But that’s hardly comparative to the personal villains deserving of personal retribution.

OK, so no blood and violence, no empathy, no real vilains, so where did they get it right?

The special effects were pretty cool, but honestly they weren’t mind-blowing by today’s standards. In fact, they weren’t much better than those of the 1987 original. If that counts as a point in the pros column, you better take it.

Samuel L. Jackson and The Novak Element was nice. It worked well as a bit of an homage to the ’80s style of narrative seen in the original, The Running Man, Day of the Dead, and Total Recall, among others.

The Verdict:

Do yourself a favor and just watch the 1987 RoboCop. From the amazing script to the level of violence to the empathy you feel for Murphy, there's just no comparison. The new movie brings nothing to the table for a new generation and it fails in every aspect.

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