Robocop (2014)

Let’s see now.
Total Recall – Critical flop. Commercially was ok, making about $75m globally. Judge Dredd was a critical success but not so great in the box office. Tron I personally thought was pretty rad but again a critical flop. Miami Vice was ok in the cool department but lacked the charisma of the original.

Kind of a mixed bag really and considering I’m a hyper fan of the hyper violent, dystopian original , I really was prepared for a forgettable experience. I love the lore and concept of Robocop, from the literary works surrounding him to the artwork that graces my living room, I feel I’m qualified to pass some judgement.

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Add to this the reliably unreliable flurry of film reviews, damning and praising in equal measure, Robocop 2014 could have gone either way.

The simple reason Robocop (1987) worked so well was because

a) it didn’t take itself too seriously (I’d buy that for a dollar!) and ensured the slapstick was in equal measure to its ridiculous levels of violence which at the time were quite vibrant.
b) Absolutely no CGI and everything was done either with clever camera trickery or models with stop-motion graphics.

This is what allows a film like Robocop (1987) to prosper and age like a good wine and something like, I don’t know, I, Robot, to wither and die in a suffocating cloud of dated CGI and effects.

So immediately, Robocop (2014) is off to a bad start, no matter how it tries, it can’t compete with those points. There are attempts at slapstick and I have to say, despite the forced rhetoric of Samuel L. Jackson’s TV presenter, he does nail it a couple of times, forcing some laughter from the audience. But then this is in conflict with the films attempt to bring a bit more humanity to the concept. It tries to deal, very well too, with the impact his transformation has on his family. Something we’re not exposed to from the original.

The incredible CGI also plays a strong part in showing how much of a helpless product he has become and rather than claiming to be this super cop is actually no more than a prisoner in a suit of armour.

Still, there are great parallels to be drawn from the original and it’s only fair to praise José Padilha for doing all he’s done to try to modernise the concept without alienating Robocop’s huge fan base.

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The first three quarters of the movie provide excellent build up to the story with some pretty good character development. The most striking difference between the two Robocops is mobility with our modernised version boasting some pretty good athletic ability. This gives a new dynamic to any clash he engages in and rather than stomp around like a lumbering powerhouse, is now demonstrating a balletic ability in a suit who can leap and spin around with aplomb, shown wonderfully in an exciting scene as he battles a handful of ED209 droids.

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There is a rush to the end and I can’t help but feel there’s a lack of care in finishing the story. We’re not stupid so the concept of every movie now being planned into a franchise is not surprising, so expect to see Robocop return. For now, I was very satisfied with his new adaptation. His new suit is supercool and Gary Oldman is just awesome. He wouldn’t put his name to a bad movie now, would he?

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