"I take orders from the Octoboss."

RoboCop (2014 remake)

tn_robocop14Many remakes, even good ones, remove or weaken the meaning or subtext of the originals. The classic example is Zack Snyder’s DAWN OF THE DEAD (by this same production company, Strike Entertainment), which is a fun action movie version of Romero’s masterpiece, but doesn’t have much time for the questions about our voluntary enslavement to consumerism and materialism. How do we keep our humanity in the face of this apocalypse? Did we have it in the first place? Who gives a shit. Zombies!

Another one is LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. A surprisingly good remake, in many ways more artful than the original, but with its last act tweaks and audience-pleasing ending it completely ditches the thing that makes Wes Craven’s version worth stomaching: its angry illustration of the dehumanizing effect that revenge has on those who commit it. According to the last scene of the remake fuck all that, sadistic revenge is funny and cool.

ROBOCOP 2014’s goals and tone are very different from Mr. Verhoeven’s 1987 classic, but it’s the rare remake that’s arguably even more directly political than the movie it’s based on. Most would say, and I agree, that Verhoeven’s (or really Neumeier and Miner’s) message about privatization and corporate greed is more powerful because of its hilarious bluntness. It was the sarcastic cop movie that Lee Iacoca and Ronald Reagan’s America was asking for, a movie where amoral corporate assholes run the police force for profit, turn a dead body into a cyborg cop, then unleash him to do high caliber battle with savage DEATH WISH style supercreeps and get mixed up in a feud within the company, reconnect with his old self and turn on them.
Brazilian director Jose Padilha, who already explored the militarization and corruption of embattled police forces in ELITE SQUAD and ELITE SQUAD 2, has taken a really different approach, but instead of repeating the same points he’s applying the RoboCop story to very contemporary concerns, not the least of which is our current policy of terrorizing other countries with drones.

In the opening, Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson), a Bill O’Reilly-esque TV loudmouth, praises the efforts of American combat robots in pacifying Tehran. We watch a live demonstration of humanoid droids (humadroids?) backed by ED-209s scanning terrified Iranians for weapons and gunning down rebels trying to protest their imperialistic presence. Novak not only has no problem seeing civilians treated this way, he’s demanding that we change the law to allow it on our own soil!

mp_robocop14The biggest premise that’s new to this version is that Americans don’t like the idea of unfeeling machines patrolling the streets, so OmniCorp (the company that makes the robots, eventually revealed to be a division of, not a renaming of, Omni Consumer Products) wants to “put a man in a machine” to try to change public opinion. The implication is hard to miss: we’re okay with machines patrolling people’s neighborhoods as long as it’s not us, it’s some other nationality, far away. If it’s us it’s gotta be a cool TV ready hero with a great backstory and everything, then maybe we’ll consider it.

The movie ends on Novak blustering about American exceptionalism, the most heavy-handed and on-the-nose part, but it’s kinda thrilling to see coming from a foreign director in what everybody assumed was gonna be disposable commercial crap. It forces us to think about the real world implications, it won’t let us off easy, the opposite of that LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT ending that had people leaving the theater with smiles on their faces.

Of course most of the movie isn’t about what our government/companies do to people in other countries, but what we are willing to let them do to us. Novak is our pundits and politicians who overwhelmingly supported the USA PATRIOT Act, who are more worried about Edward Snowden being a traitor or a douche than about the troubling programs he exposed, who never hesitate to give up any freedom (other than guns) because… what was that Benjamin Franklin quote? Something about “you gotta sacrifice liberty for security and you don’t deserve liberty neither”? Something like that.

Verhoeven’s villains couldn’t possibly be bigger assholes, that’s part of the joy of the movie. There’s the larger than life criminal evil of Clarence Boddicker, the mega-Ellis macho cokehead yuppie douchiness of Bob Morton, and the board room Machiavelianism of Dick Jones. I like that Padilha goes in the other direction. Admittedly his crime lord character Vallon (Patrick Garrow, one episode of Total Recall 2070) should be more memorable, but I like that OmniCorp CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) clearly doesn’t know he’s the bad guy. He’s a genius with great vision for business and technology, but unfortunately little regard for the greater good. There is nothing ideological or even power hungry about his push for robot Big Brother. It’s just that he’s invested so much in this technology. If you build it you better use it. If it becomes legal he makes alot of money, if it stays illegal he goes out of business. That’s all it’s about to him.

Sellars isn’t traditionally evil, but the motherfucker’s ignoring the huge consequences of his actions. That’s one thing that’s powerful about this one. This is how bad shit really happens most of the time. It’s not some madman’s master plan, it’s a mix of some good intentions, some greed, some negligence, some short-sightedness.

He’s the kind of bigwig our culture gets behind now. Not a guy that chews people’s asses out in the board room like Dick Jones, but a thoughtful guy with actual insights, one who strokes his chin and thinks about the problem and produces pearls of wisdom. Sellars even says “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them,” a Steve Jobs quote that was very accurate in the case of the iPad, not as much in the case of Sellars’s “tactical” black RoboCop suit that kinda looks like a human Knight Rider. (Although I’m fine with it, I think we all prefer the one that looks more like the real RoboCop, and the movie even acknowledges this by putting him back in silver at the end. It sounds like there’s not gonna be a sequel, but if there was I think the black suit would be left behind as the symbol of his corporate past.)

I think it’s also meaningful that they didn’t do anything like the original’s bitter inter-company rivalry between Morton and Jones, each vying for their robot program to succeed so they can move up in the company. Cut throat competition within the business world was a popular ’80s theme that was imitated in the TV RoboCops and that I’m sure is still relevant in other eras. But in this OmniCorp everybody seems to get along. As far as we know they don’t hate each other, and they don’t back stab each other, they work together to achieve the company’s goals. It’s just that some of those goals are bad for the world. That’s an important point. They don’t have to be assholes to be dangerous.

The same is true of RoboCop himself. His abilities are enhanced for modern technology. When he looks out into a crowd his facial recognition software runs everyone he sees through every police database. He has constant access to every police file, every security camera, both live and recorded. He can monitor heart and breathing rates and interpret body language like an instant lie detector test or to predict an attack. He cross-references open cases with everything on file, immediately coming up with a long list of new suspects and leads. He’s like a one man Big Brother. Like Nascimento in ELITE SQUAD 2, he’s suddenly armed with all these new law enforcement tools and they’re intoxicating. Their advantages take precedence over their ethical implications, and it’s exciting to watch him zipping around the city on his RoboCycle (you gotta call it that since it’s designed to match him) going after murderers. You can see the appeal of a RoboCop.

(Also, he would make a good boyfriend for Samantha from HER.)

But if a computer program is running a war, whether on crime or otherwise, how will it ever end? The people accept RoboCop because he has a conscience, but OmniCorp has to squeeze that out of him because it slows him down. So ultimately he’s being run from a distance, by a series of protocols, by people who are in the shadows, unaccountable, just like Americans flying drones over Pakistan. Robots keep the casualties down, but only on the side that has robots.

Well, unless the robots are fighting RoboCop. Filmatistically, Padilha’s action scenes are similar to what he did in the ELITE SQUADs: lots of handheld, war journalism style, but mostly clear, largely due to a reasonable amount of time between cuts. A standout action scene is a shootout that takes place in the dark, cutting between heat vision and Robo’s glowing red visor slit. He looks kinda Daft Punk in that scene.


I really like Joel Kinnaman as Alex Murphy, who in this version is pushing against corrupt colleagues to bust this guy Vallon. Instead of Anne Lewis his partner is Jack Lewis, played by Michael K. Williams (ha ha motherfuckers, you gotta choose between Robo having a female partner and your worship of Omar from The Wire). In the process he gets blown to bits and is chosen as the ideal candidate for this prototype robot officer. Or protobofficer.

A huge reversal from the original: he’s not a robot who starts to remember his life and becomes more human, he’s a man who realizes he’s a robot. He remembers who he is, he just wakes up with a horrible injury. He’s like a soldier who has to get used to a prosthetic limb, except it’s for his whole body.

I think there’s an important story beat missing here, which is the moment when Murphy figures out he’s not just a guy recovering from horrible injuries, he’s also a test case for a new law enforcement program. It seemed to me like they never dealt with his understanding or feelings about that. It’s like he automatically knew it and didn’t have any hesitation.

But then they start the drills and the tests. He has an enjoyable feud with Jackie Earle Haley as Randy Couture as special forces badass Mattox, who prefers training robots without human brains. He’s a dick, but with a legitimate point of view. He’s opinionated about his area of expertise, based on vast experience. Again, not evil.

As soon as Murphy’s ready he tries to reconnect with his family. Can he be a husband and father again? Not according to Omni, who realize they have to decrease his emotions to increase his performance in the field.

His wife (Abbie Cornish) and son (John Paul Ruttan) know he’s alive, but he’s kept from them, and they try to get him back. Two particularly powerful moments are the fear on his son’s face when he first sees his RoboDad, and the disappointment when he ignores him backstage at the public unveiling. Since the story is switched around, instead of wearing the helmet and then uncovering his face at the end, he begins by showing his face but lowers his visor more and more as the machine takes over.


So this ROBOCOP is about technology’s effect on foreign policy, law enforcement, civil rights, and family. But it’s also about corporate endeavors in general, creating and selling a new corporate product. And ROBOCOP 2014 itself is a new corporate product. So whether it was intentional or not it has kind of a meta type quality to it.

I think Padilha is kind of like Gary Oldman’s Dr. Dennett Norton, a well-meaning man trying to do the right thing within a system that’s all about making money. He has the endless financial, technological and staffing resources of the company, and that helps him to make progress that he couldn’t make even in his previous well-funded operation. But he also has to face an arbitrary deadline, the input of focus groups and the veto power of the money men above him.

I don’t know if/how much Padilha had to compromise what he was trying to do. It seems to me like he got his movie through the system (sounds like it in this interesting /Film interview too. And here’s one from The Verge where he talks passionately about the issues he raised in the movie). Dr. Norton has a harder time. He’s mostly a good guy, but he’s pressured into a major moral lapse that I don’t think he’ll forgive himself for.

Over the end credits Padilha plays “I Fought the Law” by The Clash. What does this mean? Who fought the law?

I don’t think it’s RoboCop. The status of his career isn’t 100% clear in the end. He’s still with the police and Dr. Norton, but does he fully control himself? What is he allowed to do? Are we okay with him still being on the streets? Whatever it is it doesn’t seem like he fought the law and the law won, so I won’t take it that way.

Could it be Padilha admitting defeat? He tried to get a pure movie through the Hollywood system but he just made a consumer product? I don’t think so, I think he won that one, so I can’t see it that way either. So I guess you have to take it literally. It’s the point of view of the criminals (or dirty cops) who lose to RoboCop in the end. They fought the law and RoboCop won.

Of course the song is also a cover done in a very different style from the original, and beloved in its own right. In fact, the previous hit version, by the Bobby Fuller Four, was one of many covers. The original version was recorded by The Crickets, but never received any airplay. So really nobody knows the original version, and at least the last few generations definitely know the Clash version better than the earlier ones, and might not even know it’s a cover. The exact thing we don’t want to happen with ROBOCOP.

It didn’t even occur to me until well after the movie that maybe one compromise Padilha had to make was the usual one of making this PG-13 when the original famously pushed the limits of the R-rating. After I saw some of you complaining about it I realized that yeah, this is one of those stories that could be improved with some extreme violence. I can’t argue with that. This Robo going really overboard would amplify the movie’s points and could also make some of it seem darkly humorous like Verhoeven’s.

But I think why it didn’t cross my mind is that these movies aren’t about exactly the same things. Verhoeven was, in part, making fun of American attitudes about violence. He wanted his RoboCop to cross the line and see if we still cheered for him (and we fell for it). Padilha’s point is more about subjugation. The main thing we hate about drones both in reality and in the movie is the cases where something goes wrong and it kills a bunch of innocent people. But what if the system could be improved and these types of errors could be avoided? Then would we be okay with it? I don’t think so. I don’t think anybody wants to be those people in the movie being scanned by robots every day. I am not satisfied with “I’m a non-threat so I have nothing to worry about.” The issue is the system itself, not whether or not the bugs can be worked out.

And incidentally the scene where we find out exactly how much of Murphy’s body is left inside that thing is as upsetting as any of Verhoeven’s visceral violence ever was. I’ve never seen anything that made me picture so vividly what it would be like to be that utterly helpless. Forget paralyzed… he’s bodiless from the lungs out. Even at the end of the movie, after he’s won, he must be fucked, right? ‘Cause how can he avoid being compromised when he needs their multi-billion dollar machines just to live? Without them he’s just a severed head hanging on a rack.

* * *

It’s clear from reading all the comments on my various RoboCop History Week posts that praising this remake around here is like shitting on a flag. But it’s also clear from sampling each of those shows that this is the first of the numerous ROBOCOP followups that treats the idea with the respect it deserves. It finds intelligent things to do with the heart and soul of RoboCop instead of just shoddily mimicking the shiny titanium alloy surface. It looks forward instead of backward, applying RoboCop to the world of 2014 instead of trying to rehash what was already said perfectly about the world of a quarter century ago.

A few years back the rebootquel RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES came out, was surprisingly enjoyable, and was really well received because of it. Fun movie, but to me it has alot more you have to forgive than this ROBOCOP does. RISE has plenty of the ol’ technical wizardry to add, but less to say than the original APES movies, all of which were political allegories for their eras. While Padilha extends the issues and implications of ROBOCOP into 21st century technological and political reality, RISE as far as I can tell just gives a modern look to the age old superstitious tale of Those Stupid Fucking Scientists, Who Do They Think They Are, God?

Are people easier on it because it’s not named after a specific APES episode, or because APES is even older than ROBOCOP so they don’t have the same attachment to it? Or are they just racist against apes so they don’t give a shit about protecting the original? You’re all a bunch of anti-simites, aren’t you?

I understand the line in the sand that people have drawn against this remake, but I think it’s misguided. It looks like the movie’s not gonna do so hot, but unfortunately the message Hollywood gets won’t be “stop remaking movies people love.” It will be “Why did we listen to that smartypants Brazilian guy who told us ROBOCOP was about making the public comfortable with drone warfare? Next time we’ll just get some TV director and tell him what the movie’s about.” In the long run I think it will have a pretty good reputation as one of the better and riskier remakes, and oh well, they never made good sequels to the orginal, maybe we don’t want to risk the same thing happening with this one.

I’ve seen most of the online critics go from pre-release scoffing and hardline opposition to reluctantly admitting that this ROBOCOP isn’t bad. I’ll take it further. I seem to like it better than anybody, I believe it’s actually good. I liked it. YOU HEAR ME? I FUCKING LIKED IT. AND I’D DO IT AGAIN.

ROBOCOP is the best ROBOCOP since ROBOCOP.









This entry was posted on Sunday, February 16th, 2014 at 3:06 am and is filed under Action, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

91 Responses to “RoboCop (2014 remake)”

  1. Great review, Vern. Still on the line as to whether I will go see this (will need to hunt down an original language version in Madrid), but it seems that Padilha gave it his all.

    Shame about the violence, though.

  2. Not cool, Vern. Not cool.

  3. That’s the spirit, Eddie! How dare Vern have a mind of his own.

  4. You know, I had completely written this film off as not worth my time (especially after watching the training clip with JEH), but reading this review has (more than any of the film’s actual marketing) made me interested to see how it plays out.

    Thanks Vern, for being the kind of guy considerate enough to give ol’ Robo a genuinely well thought-out and well written review.

    You may have opened at least one mind to giving this film a chance…

  5. This was better than I expected though I’m still not totally sure where I stand on it. It actually reminded me of your ROBOCOP 2 review Vern, where you point out that it has good intentions but assumes its audience is stupid. A lot of stuff in this is way too literal and timid but it does have some meat on its bones and some good ideas. I think it could’ve benefited from more focus, it had a really vignette-y approach to all its elements and like you point out there’s not always the connective tissue to make things work (like skipping the part where they tell Murphy he’s going to be a robot cop and not just a guy with a new robot body).

    My favorite touch was Robocop waking up in a Foxconn factory. I wish they explored that angle more. Keaton’s performance was such a treat, it was great to see that guy sinking his teeth into something like this. I loved Jacky Earle Haley too. And I liked how Kinnaman played Murphy as slightly hood and how the more robotic he became the more white he acted.

    (SPOILER) I agree with you about liking how Keaton’s character was more interesting than just a malicious corporate raider type, but how do you account for that ending? I’m just guessing but that felt like some studio-mandated b.s. to me. Throwing out his characterization to give Murphy a reason to shoot him, and then somehow Murphy overcomes his programming in like 3 seconds because I guess the movie needed to end. I didn’t think that was great or interesting.

  6. Vern this is why I love you.

    As soon as I get a job I’m A. Seeing this movie, B. Donating to this site for this and other joyous reading moments.

  7. The Original Paul

    February 16th, 2014 at 7:18 am

    Y’know, my “principles” aside Vern, one of the reasons I love your site and your reviews is because you’ll be open-minded enough to give a movie like this a chance when so many of us won’t. I respect that.

    And to answer both your point in the other thread and this – yep, I’m dismissing the movie without seeing it (although it’s fair to say that a lot of reviews aren’t as positive as yours, your unique spin is what I come here for after all!)

    But like I said in the other thread… I don’t even care if it’s decent. Honestly I wouldn’t care if it were the best “reboot” ever. I’ve taken this line for several years now, and goddamn it, I’m gonna stick to it. I don’t want to support this trend in filmmaking with my money / time. Even if that means throwing out the occasional diamond along with all the rest of the polished turds that are out there.

  8. This movie is so great but it gets under my skin that I can’t convince anybody to go see it, yet EVERYONE I know went to see that Lego Movie without hesitation.

    Sometimes I think I’m taking crazy pills… but yeah, I love the new RoboCop. I can’t imagine a better action movie coming out this year.

  9. This had to have been one of the best weeks for this websight. I really enjoyed every review from Robocop History Week.

    And I was on the fence about seeing this, but you know what? If I can get my car out of the garage I’ll see it tomorrow.

  10. Did anyone else notice that vestigial “Rape Victim” credit at the end? That seems to indicate there was actually an R-rated cut pretty late in the game. That, or Padilha is waving in the studio’s face.

  11. I don’t get it. I really fucking hated this movie and I assumed everyone else would, too. But I’m wrong a lot. True Story: One night back in the late 90s i was watching mtv with my buddy and this new white rapper came on with a “Brand Spankin New” video or whatever they were labeling new shit then, and we watched this clown (eminem) rap about all this stupid shit in this weird style that we hated, and when it was over we laughed and I remarked “Well at least we’ll never see whatever that was again.” That’s what I think of when I start to think I’m right and everyone else is fucking wrong. Clearly this is not true.

    But fuck, man, what is the fucking difference between this and every other goddamn movie they reconfigure for modern pre-teens? The whole movie is this slow, joyless grind to a who-gives-a-fuck ending, and the political stuff was pretty hamfisted. I think the question Vern raises about Murphy’s instant involvement in being a police-bot, like its just a foregone conclusion, is a BIG FUCKING QUESTION. Also, I would argue that all bad guys are pretty bad dudes, using all reasons Vern used above. I mean, Oldman’s just as bad as those dudes, but then “Does the right thing” or something (god, I can’t even remember this pile of shit i only saw last monday and I have a pretty good memory about shit like this) and I can see how its supposed to be blurring the lines between good and evil, blah blah blah, Keaton and Oldman are really very similar, one just ends up on the wrong end of the Robo’s gun because he wasn’t in that moment trying to help Robocop. Or something. I might be totally fucking wrong (see above) but I just didn’t feel like this movie earned anything of weight by the end. It was just a fluffy turd, with shit action scenes, shit performances by great actors. Did this new director tell everyone to tone it down? Was he worried it wouldn’t be boring enough? Is making super flat movies a thing in Brazil that I am unaware of (yeah, i haven’t seen this dudes other movies. not out of disinterest, didn’t know who he was until I saw roboshit) I dunno, I’m not the most political dude on earth, and nowhere near the smartest, but I thought mostly as I watched this that:

    This badass, slap you in the face because you’re a fucking idiot movie, ROBOCOP, got remade as a PG-13 movie with modern “Badass shit” injected into it, but they thought i hated well made action, that i wouldn’t give them a chance because its called robocop, so they made it way more overtly political than the original (which in my opinion is a fault. one of the best parts of the original is that you are forced to think for yourself about what just happened) and I guess, decided that Joy and Fun are kids stuff, and sucked all of that out, too, But then after it was done, they were shit! this movie is boring and soulless, lets punch it up with some laffs, so they add that fucking stupid line about how “at least you’re (robocop) the right color now.” HOLY CHRIST. In all seriousness, I enjoyed GI Joe Rise of the Cobra a million times more than this. That movie was stupid as fuck, but it was so much fun I watched it twice.

    Anyway, lay off Vern in these talkbacks. He’s not your dad, he doesn’t have some responsibility to you. He’s a man with opinions and that’s why we love him. In fact, if this isn’t Overt Irritant shit at play, this positive review to a movie even a dude who likes GI Joe movies (such as myself) can’t see anything good about, may be the beginning of Vern’s Advancement. I don’t wanna blow it, but you never know. Anyway, I love you Vern. Keep up the great work

  12. Dikembe – Yeah, I’m with you there, it felt like he changed for the conclusion and I didn’t follow why.

    Randy – What I like about the characters being that way is not so much a “blurring the lines between good and evil” as just showing that we are doing bad things without evil intentions. There’s not some sinister guy cackling about his army of drones that he’s going to conquer the world with, or his all seeing computer network that collects information from everyone’s phone calls and emails, but various people with different ideological, business or practical reasons end up step by step putting us into that position. And just like Murphy’s head being inside that suit, once we’ve built this technological empire it’s kind of hard for us to back out.

    I love the bluntness of Verhoeven’s ROBOCOP (which I rewatched on blu-ray Friday and still love dearly) but also I like seeing it done in this different way.

    Everybody: Please don’t kill me if I made you interested and then you still hate the movie. I’m sure you’ve seen some of the other reviews. Most people seem to think it’s only okay.

  13. Good review, Vern. I liked it too. Not a TON, but it wasn’t by any means bad. I do like that it goes its own way with a lot of things and keeps the references to the original at a minimum. The action’s well done, and I didn’t think it would significantly add to the movie in a meaningful way, just be a bit more fun for us fans of action that doesn’t treat us like babies. I thought the shootout in the dark was effective. Very intense and gave Robocop a bit of a horror monster quality. Also I liked the touch that when you see it from his perspective there’s a running counter of how many perps he’s “neutralised”. If they’d also included a “out of [how many there are]” it would have been another bit of satire that his programming only sees a number of objectives to clear, like a video game. Most of the cast were good. I liked Kinnaman, though I thought he looked a bit too edgy at the beginning as a human, though since he was working undercover and was going through some stuff, I guess that makes sense. Keaton and Oldman were great too, and Jackson was fun. Cornish was good, though it was a rather one note character as all she played was the worried wife and mother. If she wasn’t crying, she was just looking melancholy in general…even in the scenes before Alex gets blown up. A couple more “happier times” flashbacks could have balanced that out a bit.
    Storywise, it could have done with a few tweaks. Pacing for one. We spend so much time on his development and training that when he actually debuts, they skim over the whole “cleaning up the city” aspect (you know, the whole purpose of him becoming Robocop) then go straight to him solving his murder in 5 minutes and then onto the climax, which yeah, was kinda outta nowhere. They should have made more of the final confrontation with Mattox, as they did built up that antagonism a lot, and I did buy that this guy was a deadly, experienced soldier and he gets taken out rather easily by Lewis(who when you think about it, shouldn’t have been able to get there since he was being held up by ED 209s who’d shoot him once he picked up a gun again).
    A few other thoughts:
    -I’d have liked to have seen more of how the robots were being used in the more stable and developed countries. In the opening Novak Element, he did say “every country in the world” except America was using them. So assuming that the UK and Western Europe are still a fairly civilised area(and it would make sense that say, London would do this, given how it’s one of the most CCTV covered cities on the planet), wouldn’t the use of robot law enforcement there create a bit of a track record that the US dissenters would have to argue with?
    -They rebuild and train him in China. I was wondering if this was going to turn out to mean that OmniCorp was Chinese owned, which would have put another satirical slant on things
    -Why would a wanted criminal show up at the unveiling of a new highly advanced super cop who could identify him in seconds?
    -I liked the scene where they look at possible new designs, “focus tested” on prison inmates and featuring a dig at TRANSFORMERS to boot, and it was a good way to introduce his black design

  14. Great review, Vern.

    I read something months ago (can’t remember where) in which Padhila said that while the studio was a huge a pain in his ass, he was able to pretty much make the movie he wanted. And if that’s the case, I figure it has to be worth a look.

  15. The vibe I get from the reviews is that it’s just OK. Middle-of-the-road, vanilla, tries to do some things but is kinda compromised and pulls it’s punches in the end.

    To me that’s almost worse. The last thing I want walking out of a Robocop movie is thinking that it’s generic and/or forgettable. Robocop should be a punch in the teeth, whether it’s good or bad, it should go all out.

    Robocop 2 may be stupid and messy and not sure what it’s doing, but it ends with 30 minutes of mayhem and random civilians getting violently gunned down by a giant robot.

  16. “Anti-simite”. Now there’s a phrase I never thought I’d hear in my life-time.

  17. bullet3 – It also had a robot that committed suicide after killing 2 people and a 10 year old drug lord. Somehow I doubt this new one features anything that warped. Good review nonetheless even if I am in the camp that will never touch this thing with a 10 foot pole. Call me stubborn but the trailers just don’t do anything for me at all despite an awesome cast.

  18. Caught the remake: Meh.

    The head is in the right place, as Vern pointed out with the contemporary politics.

    But the movie sadly lacks balls. The story is esoteric, never once did the narrative truely engage me. The original movie? BAM you’re hooked right from the start in this world and doesn’t let off until you get the title credit at the end there. Plus it doesn’t help that it kinda takes too long with the training and shit before he finally hits the streets, and even then that promised orgasm is too short to get any joy from it.

    Not terrible but…whatever.

    I guess its better than the pointless TOTAL RECALL remake.

  19. I’m gonna see this with an open mind. But so far all this middle-of-the-road feedback is making me appreciate Verhoeven so much more.

  20. since it’s what the movie’s about, I guess I’ll throw in my two cents about drones

    the 21st century sucks, this is not the bright, happy future we were promised in the 90’s, this is the cold, hard reality, a world where there are people that want us dead for Religious reasons and as we are all aware you can’t stop Religious fervor with things like logic or rationality, think of the recent Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate where Ken Ham bluntly said “No one is going to convince me the word of God is not true” (thus rendering the whole point of a debate pointless), that’s the kind of mindset we’re dealing with, just picture all those Christians in America who will never stop fighting to ban abortion, prevent gay marriage or have creationism taught in public schools until the day they die, now give those people guns and bombs and the will to use them

    no matter how nice and “liberal” America becomes they wont stop hating us, so what the fuck are we supposed to do? we can’t do nothing, we can’t just sit back and just hope they never attack us again, because they will, we tried the mass scale “boots on the ground” invasion in Iraq and we got our asses kicked, so clearly that’s not a good idea, so what other option does that leave us? at this point in time it seems like the only option is drones, I don’t like it anymore than you do, I wish the world wasn’t this way, but life is not always the way we wish it was

    however, that said, I obviously don’t think it would be good to to start using drones in America, but I’m not against the idea of drones in of themselves

  21. “I understand the line in the sand that people have drawn against this remake, but I think it’s misguided. It looks like the movie’s not gonna do so hot, but unfortunately the message Hollywood gets won’t be “stop remaking movies people love.” It will be ‘Why did we listen to that smartypants Brazilian guy who told us ROBOCOP was about making the public comfortable with drone warfare? Next time we’ll just get some TV director and tell him what the movie’s about.'”

    I don’t know, I feel like this kind of plays into the logic of the system a bit. Yeah, they could have probably done a worse job with this, but there was always something kind of superfluous about it, since the original still holds up so well. This was made because hollywood is addicted to established “properties,” and the creative restrictions that imposes is the problem here. It should be where, if they say they want to make the next Robocop, that means they want to make the next film that does the kind of cool things that Robocop did. Not just make a new film titled Robocop with some of the same elements and a new paint job. Not that I would begrudge anyone seeing this or enjoying it, but this holds little interest to me beyond the basic curiosity of how they handled it. And I need a better reason to sit down and watch something.

  22. Don’t know if this has been posted already, but The Asylum recently released their knockoff version. Starring none other than Mr. Michael Jai White, playing a cross between Anne/Jack Lewis and James Caan’s character from ALIEN NATION: http://youtu.be/7AgZebTmtiY

  23. is there anything The Asylum WONT ripoff? and also, how are they even still going? wasn’t their whole business model tricking morons seeing them on video store shelves? well considering there’s not really such a thing as video stores anymore, what’s the point? no one’s going to be fooled into renting them on Netflix or whatever thinking they’re the real deal, right?

  24. Darren – There’s nothing technically wrong with the new ROBOCOP, but its in the same boat with the recent flop JACK RYAN. They’re both perfectly fine rentals, but that’s as enthusiastic as I can be for them. Both do have timely relevance somewhat. If the new ROBOCOP has its head in the right place with the politics, JR i suppose I appreciated that the Russians are the outright bad guys with a plausible enough paperback thriller scheme. (Plus with Russia being assholes to Gay people, let’s just say its easier to picture the Russians as bad guys again honestly.)

    So I’m not damning Vern for liking the remake or think the remake was an abomination to God. I’m in the middle apparently.

    Griff – eh I liked SHARKNADO! And I don’t know if they were the same folks who made GHOST SHARK (which I also liked) but yeah Asylum at least made one movie that I enoyed.

  25. That ANDROID COP just looks plain bad, for the sake of being bad. I don’t get why they would make those things half-arsed, without at least a bit of irony.

    If you haven’t seen it, I’d recommend MANBORG from the Astron 6 dudes. Its low-budget, but these guys put a bit of care into it, and seem to have a love for the Robo/Borg genre.

    RRA –

  26. RRA – I fear im in the middle without having even seen it. Im just gonna lower my expectations a few clicks, you never know…

  27. The Asylum’s ‘Dragon Crusaders’ is also not terrible. Not a ripoff of anything in particular, with a couple of honestly cool characters. If you watch it (it’s on Netflix) I dare you to not enjoy the archer guy and especially, especially little 4’10” real life Pencak Silat ‘sword master’ Cecily Fay kicking ass in every action scene (because she choreographed all her own scenes). The Asylum has a stable of actors and directors, and some of them put their hearts into it. I’m not saying watch their stuff unless you have the capacity to enjoy ‘bad’ movies. And even if you do enjoy ‘bad’ movies, many Asylum movies just suck. But Sharknado is the only SyFy-style film that knows what it is and isn’t boring, Dragon Crusaders is actually good but has a low budget, and Transmorphers 2 (yes I watched Transmorphers 2) is the most gender-blind movie I’ve ever seen.

    ANYWAY. Vern, your open mind is one of the greatest strengths in contemporary film criticism. You never review with an agenda, and I appreciate that more than I can say in a brief comment.

  28. Excuse me, it’s the first Transmorphers I’m thinking of. Transmorphers 2 is completely different, totally unrelated to the first one.

  29. I liked the open-mindedness of your review, even if the last few paragraphs make me feel like I’m personally kicking Jose Padilha in the balls by refusing to see it. I liked the ELITE SQUAD movies and everything, but I don’t want to support a cynical cash-grab by a giant corporation just because Padilha was able to sneak in a few crumbs of art while his corporate overlords weren’t looking. I’ll probably see it on DVD or something.

    I think people were kind to RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES because it was coming off the heels of a much shittier remake that pretty much nobody liked. It didn’t have much to say politically and was kind of dumb in parts, but it had great acting, nice action and was genuinely emotionally engaging.

  30. CrustaceanLove – plus RISE was good and effective for what it aimed to be: A mixture of both the old 1950s mad scientist movie (“you can’t play god!”) and the jailbreak picture. Not like CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (which RISE was basically a down to Earth grounded modern day reboot of), which was about enslavement and Black Panthers and whatever shit that scared old white people at the time.

    Whenever RISE pops up on TV, I end up planning to watch a few minutes of it and inevitably I get fully engaged, especially the revolt/escape 3rd act. I mean Kamakazee gorilla attacks on helicopters! Plus who knew monkeys sign language each other could be compelling?

    I don’t know honestly why Vern tried to compare the new ROBOCOP with it. No offense, its kinda random. They have nothing in common except that they’re both reboots and sci-fi. If critics liked RISE, which lets be honest was better than most of us expected from a James Franco sci-fi reboot that nobody really was asking for. A decent crowdpleaser. I’m looking forward to DAWN out this summer. So far from the reviews out there, new ROBOCOP is seen as having little meat on the bone to knaw on, and not simply with people pissy that ROBOCOP got remade.

    Fair or not, people just aren’t exactly dying to see the remake and the reviews don’t do enough to make them change their minds. But its doing good overseas so far, so maybe there is still hope for a sequel?

  31. Members of the Vern Fraternity, I have just returned from the afternoon session of BLACK/WHITE ROBOCOP 2014 and it is my humble opinion that it is a solid remake, and a fuckin GREAT film in it’s own right. That’s right, I am off the fence and my name is no longer Malcolm in the middle.

    Thanks Vern for being so positive about movies in general. Cynicism, especially when it comes to remakes of movies I love, is usually my first instinct. Occasionally this instinct serves me well, a la CONAN remake and TOTAL RECOIL, but damn if I don’t love left-field whacks up the side of my head now and again.

    Darren Baker – greetings fellow Darren. I’m pretty sure the credited rape victim appears in one of the clips on the Novak Files show that Sam Jackson is hosting. There’s a clip of a woman being harassed by two men in front of a garbage container in an ally. There is no actual rape shown, it just seems that the threat is there. You never know, there might be a hard R version out there.

    I didn’t know who this guy Kinnaman was who played Robie until I remembered him as the cop from the series THE KILLING, and he was pretty good in that. He’s got the same kind of street talk thing going on here as well. He was a really good Murphy and he looked good in the Robo-suit, even if at first I thought he was a bit too DJ Quall-ish with his skinny frame and face.

    I thought the political satire was still there with Sam Jacksons angry media preaching. They made a point to show how the media influences society about politics and agendas. Like when Novak interviewed Keaton and a debate started with Senator Dreyfus, but they cut short Dreyfus’ last comment because it didn’t fit the show’s agenda.

    Abbie Cornish was really good in the Melissa George role as the hot wife. There was a lot more focus on Murphy’s family in this one. I may have even read (or created, who knows?) a subtext about the way corporatisation grinds a man down to nothing more than an efficient machine trained to serve the bottom line of CEO’s and governments. And how he has to fight to get his humanity back from these pricks.

    I want to go into more detail later when I have time, but for now I just wanted to describe how I felt when I saw it. Great fuckin movie. I loved it. I’ll see it again.

  32. Vern, I’m with you. I really liked the remake and it’s the best ROBOCOP since ROBOCOP.

    Surprised you liked the action though. I thought it still had Padilha’s post-action nonsense. The dark hallway fight was a nice idea but I legitimately could not see what was happening. And the suicide bombers vs. working ED-209s is also a great idea, but obscured by shaking cameras and all the smoky debris.

    But, luckily the movie focused on the Alex Murphy conflict and the politics, which was great.

    I’m not of the mind that a remake has to surpass the original. In fact, I think it would be a healthier approach to take to remakes to just say, “Look, we can’t do better, but we can do something else interesting.” That’s what Padilha did by adapting it so much. I dare say, we could even see this as ROBOCOP 4 set in a future some time after OCP’s Robocop. Alex Murphy is a fairly common name, but his wife isn’t Ellen. This Omnicorp division got the ED-209s working and they figured out something even more powerful than Directive 4 to control Robocop.

    Okay, I’m reaching, but I’d be happy to more ROBOCOPs with Kinnaman. Sadly, I think Vern is right about the Hollywood spin, although the studio controlled remakes haven’t done any better. Same with the subsequent YA franchises. I really don’t get the ice skating uphill there. If people don’t want to see the same shit again, isn’t it cheaper to invent something new and merchandise the shit out of it?

  33. RRA: Maybe I’m a weirdo but it doesn’t seem random to me at all to draw parallels between two recent unwanted reboots that took unexpected approaches to adapting beloved, famously political, heavily sequeled and merchandised pop science fiction classics. That seems like a fair category to me, so it’s interesting to compare and contrast their approaches and their reception. RISE is clearly more impressive on a technical level (because of the great mocopimation) and arguably better storytelling. I would say that ROBO has better acting performances and characters with more dimension to them, but some would disagree. I don’t think you can deny my point that ROBOCOP is the one that has something to say, like its predecessor did. Since the subtext is one of the main things many of us love about the originals this is important to me.

    I enjoy both movies, I see flaws in both movies, I find it interesting that one was accepted with open arms while the other is reluctantly allowed to come inside but has to sleep on the floor. I’m not attacking RISE, I just wish people would be as open-minded about ROBO, because I think it has much more dimension and substance to it.

    Also I brought it up because I suspect this means PLANET OF THE APES is slowly drifting into the past as a movie that only old goateed doll collectors care about, and I want to remind people that those movies are awesome.

  34. First of all, thanks Vern for this insightful review! Reading the comments that congratulate you on your verdict on the film because it goes against the grain of the average reviewer’s, made me think about how film is generally evalued today. It’s something the often maligned Armond White uses to state and I think he’s right: The ability and willingness to evaluate and discuss film has almost completely transformed into a bartering of opinions, where it’s not important what you have to say about a given film, but where the only thing of interest is whether you represent the majority and the “right” opinion. Fact is: There are no movies that are indefensable to everyone. Every film has something to say to somebody somewhere and has the potential to make a connection. So I think when a reviewer is getting praised for representing a kind of “unpopular” opinion, that’s pretty sad, because it basically says that film is not something open to discussion but a thing of right and wrong. And belonging to the wrong side takes “courage”.

    The other thing I want to say is in regard to the commentors who judge Padilhas remake not by itself but by the sheer fact that it’s a remake. Now, there certainly has been no shortage of bad remakes of nearly every film that was popular in the past 30 years but I think that doesn’t discredit remakes in general. It just shows that studios and producers don’t care that much. A remake is a cheap and safe way to bring out new product. It doesn’t take as much work (because there already is a story), most of the time it already has a built-in audience and a way to market it. Remakes are the films where it is most obvious that studios today are profit oriented businesses. But that’s true for most of the “original” films that open each year, too. Remakes aren’t a new phenomenon. The difference between today and let’s say the 1950s or 1960s is that movies have become brands. 50 years ago you would’ve taken a successful formula and tweak it into a new movie, today you call it ROBOCOP 2014 because you know that the name has a certain kind of pull.

    Let’s be honest: Even if Verhoeven’s ROBOCOP wasn’t a remake it basically was a modern take on FRANKENSTEIN with a little bit of BLADE RUNNER and let’s say DIRTY HARRY thrown in. So that story actually wasn’t that new. I think that’s true for 95 % of the movies, books etc. Most of them are variations of stories that have already been told. (And you could argue that almost every film is the “remake” of a book.) The difference between Padilhas ROBOCOP and a possible “new” Robot-Cop movie is the way it is marketed. I haven’t seen the film yet but from what Vern is writing I think the differences between both versions are pretty obvious in a way that it shouldn’t concern us that it’s a remake. It should be evalued on its own. What if Verhoeven had called ROBOCOP “Frankenstein 1987”? Would we have hated it because it did Shelleys novel injustice?

    (Not to sound like a wisecracker, I have avoided many of the remakes of the past few years and am kind of tired of them. But that has more to do with modern films in general not so much with the fact that they’re remakes.)

  35. Glad you liked it more than me, Vern. For me it was okay, but felt the politics and the plot a bit muddled and uninteresting compared to the original. I have always been a big proponent of Joel Kinneman and he is great as RoboMurphy.The film is technically as slick as any Hollywood blockbuster,it was definitely different and I consider ROBOCOP 2014 to be a film that I have seen. Loved Sam Jacksons outburst at the end,though. That was good for a laugh.

  36. “Also I brought it up because I suspect this means PLANET OF THE APES is slowly drifting into the past as a movie that only old goateed doll collectors care about, and I want to remind people that those movies are awesome.”

    I’ve been meaning to see the APES movies for ages since I’m a sucker for sci fi from that time period (I love SOYLENT GREEN and LOGAN’S RUN for example), but I find myself always procrastinating since it’s a pretty big undertaking to buy all four films at the same time

    the point is, since I as a young guy at least want to see the, they haven’t totally faded into the past yet

  37. This one makes me think of PROMETHEUS: it’s going to be hard to discuss without being accused of sour grapes. It’s also tricky because OG ROBOCOP is my go-to high watermark for blockbuster sci-fi action movies in general. But I enjoyed the Elite Squads and Bus 174, and Robocop History Week had me successfully primed to watch this with open mind (thanks, Vern!).

    But, man, this was a mess to me. The “big ideas” felt totally incoherent and tacked on. Drones are already being used in the US, so it already felt weirdly dated as sci-fi. The lack of world-building is puzzling – I got no sense of why drones might be required in the US at all, as even Detroit (Detroit!) looked like quite a nice place to live, so long as you aren’t a drug dealer or undercover cop. The original created this awful, shitty crime-ridden world in which a Robocop might actually seem like a good idea for a minute, but the new version doesn’t do any of this. I didn’t get any sense of a debate really raging in the real world outside of Sam L just standing there and telling us so – outside of the Senator, we don’t meet anyone who is anti-drone (Jackie Earl Haley is anti-Robocop but he obviously loves the drone). The idea that the only thing people need to accept drones on the streets is a “human face” just doesn’t resonate any real world analogue that I’m aware of, especially in a world where drones are already being used in the US and nobody seems that perturbed, by and large.

    But even beyond this confusion or the lack of any real interrogation of these issues, in my opinion any satirical impact is neutered by making this Robocop a slick and efficient non-lethal operative (unless the objective of this movie is the complete opposite of the original – i.e. to make a Robocop seem like a swell idea!). One of the reasons the original worked so well is that you were able to root for Robocop as a protagonist while still understanding how completely ludicrous how he is as a response to crime. He’s hopelessly slow and he absolutely destroys everything in his path – he might foil a dime store robbery, but he completely fucks up the store, too. His counterpart, ED-209, can’t even handle the fucking stairs!

    In this one, Robo gets the job done with perfect non-lethal efficiency, which completely side-steps any of the tricky issues the original tangles with in such an entertaining fashion. Even in Tehran, the drones are established as pretty damn effective (they kill a kid, sure, but he had a weapon). A movie interested in dealing with real-life issues around drones would surely have dealt with their questionable accuracy, for one. You can see how this could have been done by, say, transplanting the ED-209 boardroom scene from the original to a wedding in the Middle East, but the movie doesn’t appear to have to balls to do so and instead presents drones as pretty unambiguously effective. So instead, the question the movie asks is whether or not these amazing machines should be used in the US, and on the evidence the movie presents the answer appears to be yes, because they work really well. The movie doesn’t present any real reason to side with the Senator, or supposedly anti-drone public that we never see.

    (As an aside, what about Robo’s gratuitous use of the taser on two occasions? One where tases a suspect (the dirty cop) that is explicitly identified as “cooperative”, and the other where he delivers a clearly pre-meditated and malicious (and painful!) zap to Jackie Earl Haley as part of a fucking training exercise? I don’t think even Peter Weller’s programmed cyborg Robocop would have been this much of a dick, but I definitely didn’t buy it from Joel Kinneman’s supposedly incorruptible humanised Robocop.)

    The one part in the movie that almost works is the transformation section, particularly the decision to have Alex Murphy remain conscious of the process. This doesn’t work as satire, but almost works as creepy body-horror and felt like the only part of the movie with any real edge. But they quickly abandon this for generic digital shoot-em-up stuff and the rest of the movie is downhill from there. (Also, as effective as that section is, I couldn’t shake the suspicion that if this scene had appeared in a movie with cheaper special effects I would have been laughing my ass off. His little hand dangling there and the single tear and all that. The scene where he visits his family in the big suit did have me laughing, though. I can’t imagine his wife and kid reacting with anything other than total revulsion and horror, but instead it’s all hugs and sensitive moments, which is hilarious.)

    Ultimately, this feels like the kind of dumb, schlocky action movie that the original was only pretending to be. This actually feels like the kind of movie that Verhoeven was lampooning with his original. And lord knows I love dumb, schlocky action movies, but the best of those are straight up FUN. This is mostly more of the same boring, navel-gazing flavour that most modern “action” movies run with.

    The beauty of the original is that it you could watch it as a riotous action flick, or as a movie with a point to make, or both, if you wanted. It worked equally well on all those levels, but at the same time. This is one of those movies where they have to basically pause the action for 20 minutes to have “serious” parts dealing with “issues” or to have Sam Jackson just straight up explain everything to camera. I mean, it’s fine if you want to watch a movie about Robocop crying, but it’s bad news if you’re looking for a fun time at the movies if you ask me. I dunno man, maybe I don’t know how to watch these movies properly, but this felt like every other Hollywood action movie these days. Not as boring and dumb as the Total Recall remake, but not much of an improvement, either.

    This movie is a little like watching the entire original trilogy at once, but with the fun and violence surgically removed: you briefly got to enjoy a touch of the grisly side of the original ROBOCOP, before heading to the neutered, PC Robocop of the sequel, and right out the other side to the PG-13 action, mostly robot opponents, and lovable kid of ROBOCOP 3. They might has well have had him fly up to the helipad for that undeserved damp squib of a showdown with Keaton.

    Vern, I really appreciate your work in convincing me (and others) to watch this with an open mind, but I don’t personally think the movie itself stands up, I’m afraid. There’s probably a good ROBOCOP movie to be made about drones (although I suspect the real missed opportunity would have been to do something looking at the state of Detroit today). I’d be up for that, but I don’t think this is it.

  38. Great review Vern, glad you enjoyed it to. I went to this with pretty low expectations but wanted to see if it would hold up at all. Wasn’t disappointed, and was really pleased that Padilha took a new approach to the story but kept a strong, pretty blunt message about the world today in it. Also, it was nice that he left a few references to the original in it without having to spell it out for everyone.

  39. Great review Vern, glad you enjoyed it to. I went to this with pretty low expectations but wanted to see if it would hold up at all. Wasn’t disappointed, and was really pleased that Padilha took a new approach to the story but kept a strong, pretty blunt message about the world today in it. Also, it was nice that he left a few references to the original in it without having to spell it out for everyone.

  40. Jesus, Griff, I hope you never vote. Your views are pretty bad, lack empathy, and betray a lot of prejudice on your part. Shit, Indonesia aint got no beef with us and that’s the biggest Muslim nation in the world. The whole wide world, man. And religious folk in the US got it pretty bad, most of them are middle aged rural whites who had their entire economic foundation shattered so all they can do is cling to their religion and guns. Show some empathy and understand why they cling to that shit, bro. They’ve been victimized and now they’re being used by some pretty shitty people, so whenever you sneer at them or laugh at them all you do is make it harder for them to change. Stop being part of the problem.

    Vern, I’ve not yet seen the remake but what I love about the original Robocop is how it really “gets” it. It talks about privatization before it was really a thing, goes into how corporations think of its workers, and lots of other deep issues. Shit, it’s ghastly that Murphy can’t even get some time off when he dies on the job and instead still has his robolabor expropriated. Combine that with media bombardment, the destruction of our culture, and just lots of other things and I think the movie just “gets it”.

    Does the new one get it, too? I think there’s some fertile ground about how myopic Silicon Valley is in thinking that technology can change the world for the better, that all progress is good, and things like that. Does it go into how technology, and robotics, make us all so much more productive that we need fewer workers and how this just destroys working men and women? How this then creates crime? There’s a lot of stuff here, but from what I can tell the new movie just does a very surface level “drones are bad, Snowden, and I guess Bill O’Reilly is a jerk, too” stuff, but does it get to any of the deeper shit at play?

  41. Also, I agree with Crustacean Love about RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. It’s kind of dumb in parts, but is emotionally engaging and works on its own merits. Remakes or reimaginings or whatever of older movies or books work if they at least work on their own terms.

  42. I love both series and we walked outta Rise of… cheering “Apes! Apes! Apes!” (I’m not kidding) but when I walked outta Robot Officer Version 2, all I had was an extreme headache and sore legs. Seriously, anyone else have that problem? Not just at Robotdude, just life in general? We saw JFK a few weeks ago and my legs fell asleep about six times

  43. Obviously, one should when it comes to remakes instead of judging them see them as a different movie and compare what is different. But it is hard to not judge it when the filmmakers insists on putting dumb references that does not gel with the new version/vision. The new rendition of Poledouris classic score, the groanworthy “I´d buy that for a dollar”-quip and the quick glance at RoboCops original suit certainly doesn´t do this new version any favors as a standalone movie at all. They are of course minor complaints really, that should have very little bearings on the films overall quality, but I don´t want to be reminded about a better movie when I try to keep an open mind.

  44. Casey: the more I think about it, the more it seems like the message of the movie is more like “drones are good”. I’m having trouble thinking of any arguments against drones presented by the movie. Maybe we are supposed to assume an anti-drone position just because Sam Jackson’s douchebag pundit is pro-drone, but there’s little evidence in the movie to counter his argument, and most of it seems to confirm that drones are pretty sweet. There’s even a scene that explicitly states that drones can do everything that a human does – except even faster. Arguably one of the ED-209s over-steps the line in Tehran, but there’s just as much to suggest that it made a justifiable decision in the circumstances. As far as I recall we never see them make an unambiguous mistake like in the original movie’s unforgettable boardroom scene. The only argument against drones that I can see is that some liberal politicians and members of the public find them a bit, yknow, creepy? Otherwise, in this world, drones seem to be pretty damn great.

  45. Shoot: the constant references to the original definitely make it hard to buy the argument that we’re supposed to be viewing this as a stand-alone movie on its own terms. But I suspect that when most of us compare this to the original movie, we are not comparing it to the specific lines of dialogue, specific scenes, themes, specific effects or costumes in the original. We’re comparing it with the original movie’s wildly successful combo of intelligent film-making, over-the-top comedy, subtle drama and sheer balls-to-the-wall badassery. It’s a perfectly conceived and executed satirical sci-fi action spectacular full of great acting, memorable scenes and fantastic characters. If we have any expectations, they are for a movie that captures that spirit. It’s a high standard indeed, but dammit, they knew the risks.

    That said, the new one has at least one potential contribution to the canon of cheesy dialogue that got some laughs out of me: “Nah, it’s good cop, Robocop!”.

  46. I’m going to hang away from this movie until some accidental viewing. I believe Vern’s argument that it’s the best Robocop since Robocop. But what I love best about the original is it’s socio-political commentary. From the thoughtful comments I’ve read, it seems like although the original introduces some contemporary issues, but doesn’t deal with them critically. To be a worthy successor to Verhoven’s flick, the remake needed to knock that bit into the outfield. Sounds like a grounder. That kind of superficial “here’s a thing” politics is not the kind of thing I can get behind in a Robocop movie.

    And Detroit’s not a dystopia? Whats the point? Cool casting, though.

  47. Shoot and Brapps, I’m with you.

  48. The movie was not good. Mediocre maybe, but definitely not good. 2 big issues I had with this movie: 1. It marginalizes Murphy’s character. He basically has no personality besides pissed off cop. 2. Someone please explain why the Detroit of this movie even needs a Robocop? The Detroit in this movie is clean an completely sterile. What crime was happening besides Alex Murphy getting blown to bits for discovering the sale of illegal guns? There is absolutely no real case made in the movie that Robocop should even exist. The only case for his existence is the existence of the original movie. Also, Michael Keaton’s turn at the end was horrible. It was like something out of a Scooby Doo cartoon. Now that Robocop has unmasked the villain, all of a sudden he’s ruthless enough to threaten his family right in front of him? Nothing in the movie shows this guy with that type of ruthlessness. Now we’re supposed to believe he would turn a gun on a woman and a child? This movie stinks of paint by numbers safeness in every way.

  49. One argument against drones is made in the opening scene, when you watch innocent women and children have to stand and put their hands up to be scanned for weapons by war machines, then get caught in the crossfire with suicide bombers who we know from the dialogue have been driven to this by the presence of the drones. Like I said in the review, the POV of the movie is not about the efficiency of the robots. It’s that no matter how good they are they are not accountable to human emotions. Murphy works better when he lets the machine take over but he does the right thing when he takes control.

    I think Detroit not being a hellscape is also part of the point because you’re right, we *don’t* need a RoboCop. Only OmniCorp needs a RoboCop because otherwise what are they gonna do with all these fuckin robots. It’s a police-military-technology industrial complex.

    I do have one complaint though that I’m surprised nobody brought up – it’s too bad they filmed all or most of this in Canada. Unless they’ve changed the tax incentives recently I know Michigan is a place where alot of productions go for discounts, so you’d think they’d be able to figure out a way to film it in the real place.

  50. You know, I recall a comment that basically said that this new ROBO would be interesting, because it is always interesting to see America through the eyes of a foreign director, but for all of the talk of drones, wouldn’t it be a much more interesting – and closer to home – idea of a policeman as a fucking nightmare to have to deal with? I feel like Sam Fuller would’ve made this, but Murphy would be predisposed to causal racism and he’d terrorize the shit out of the populace. You know, like cops sometimes do?

  51. Henry Swanson's my name

    February 17th, 2014 at 1:13 pm


    And seriously, why was Keaton shot at the top of a skyscraper if not to fall off backwards in homage to the original? I’d love to know if they shot that and it was trimmed for PG-13.

    I really hope we get to see a sequel to this new Robocop iteration. Preferably made by Padilha. I was a little letdown, but I’d still love to see where he took it next.

  52. I don’t get that some people were surprised that Keaton does what he does at the end. He was never painted as an humanitarian. Just a driven corporate genius with his own agenda. Murphy was only ever a product to him. Maybe because Keaton’s not often cast as a villain, he’s more comic and likable, that people found it a stretch. It went over fine with me and fit with the way Murphy was de-humanised by Omnicorp. His only real ally was Oldman’s doctor.

    Now if they got Keaton to put on the black Robo suit and say “I’m Batman”, they could have taken the delusional narcissistic angle and justified his behaviour even more. But then Oldman would have got confused..

  53. Hi Vern. I thought about the bit at the start, but I couldn’t see how that was an argument against drones specifically rather than a general argument against military occupation. Wouldn’t that scene have been the same if it was regular human soldiers frisking innocent people in a foreign nation? Occupation itself – not the technology involved – is what inspires people to fight back. And if human soldiers were faced with the same scenario, regardless of the righteousness or otherwise of their occupation, you could understand how they might respond the same way the drones did. So I didn’t see how that bit was making a point about drones in particular.

    The only other objection to drones I can see in the movie is the emotional one: that they lack the human dimension. But I dunno, if that’s the best the anti-drone lobby has to offer, it’s only a matter of time. That argument could just as well be a pro-drone one in the real world: a non-drone cop would cost the city a lot of money in counseling and paid leave in the event of killing a kid – if that would even happen, given the impressive efficiency of the drones in the movie. When Murphy and the drone faced the hostage situation in the training simulation, it would have been interesting if Murphy had handled that situation more sensitively, minimising trauma to the kid, but he doesn’t, he just does the same thing as the drone, except slower. So for it still seems like the movie has way more arguments for drones than against.

    I wouldn’t be able to recognise the real Detroit enough to spot that they used a fake one, but on the subject of nit-picks, I was wondering about the bit where they said that Murphy was “investigating his own murder”. Maybe it’s just me, but did they forget that they changed it in this one so that Murphy wasn’t killed? What murder was he investigating? Small point, but it added to the sense of laziness I got from the new version.

  54. Of course people were surprised that Keaton did what he did at the end. It was completely out of character and just tacked on by the writers because they had no real villain. He did nothing in the movie that indicated he would ever pull a gun out and threaten a man’s family right in front of his face. I would have accepted it more if he had a goon do it. Everything he did at the end was generic villain stuff. They should have had him twirling a mustache also, it would have made just as much sense.

  55. Chitown – does Keaton need to be a cliché villain that we can recognize on the surface, like, say, Clarence Boddicker, or Bob Morton from the original? ROBOCOP ’87 was intentionally over the top and cartoonish. That’s part of why it’s a classic. The villains had to stand out, particularly Boddick. ROBOCOP ’14 wasn’t aiming for over the top. I thought the tone was a bit more serious.

    Keaton’s character was a hybrid of Dick Jones/Morton. He’s a corporate guy, not a street villain. I don’t think corporate villains need to be mustache twirlers to be evil. They’re evil by the way they play the game, through double-talk and deception. He told Murphy’s wife whatever he felt she needed to hear so he could move forward with his program. It was clear to me he didn’t give a fuck about anyone but himself. That’s why I wasn’t surprised by his later actions.

  56. Vern – Eh I still think you putting RISE and nu-ROBOCOP together might be a stretch, but let me gather my thoughts and fire my salvo later which explains why I have trouble grouping them together.

    If anything, nu-ROBOCOP’s roommate is obvious: The RED DAWN remake from a couple of years ago with Thor and Peeta.

    Both are MGM-produced remakes of MGM movies.* Both originals were 1980s movies that were hits that played well with meat & potato crowds, and both controversial at the time (if for different reasons.) Both were heavily criticized back in the day for being too violent. Both originals were directed by guys that have been accused of being crazy more than once. Both remakes incidentally featured China somehow in the plot, or would’ve anyway if MGM didn’t digitally replace the Chinese invaders with North Koreans in post-production for nu-RD. Both remakes bombed or are bombing at the domestic box-office.** Both remakes kept the original movie’s title. Both feature lame lines that are callbacks to scenes from the original movie. Also fun fact, Joel Kinnaman screentested for Thor.

    But more than anything else, both movies you can’t directly remake as they were because they were too much political creatures of their time. Since then, Reagan died and the Cold War ended. So both remakes tried to retell their plots fueled by 2010s politics.

    Drew McWeeny reviewed an early draft of nu-ROBOCOP and apparently at one point the movie would’ve featured footage from nu-RED DAWN on TV, as a kind of wink wink inside joke.

    *=Yes Orion released ROBOCOP originally but MGM bought them out so its now MGM property.
    **=nu-ROBOCOP is doing decent overseas, let’s make that point clear.

  57. Darren-Exactly what are you talking about? Keaton taking out a gun and threatening Murphy’s family while also threatening to shoot him in the face is pretty over the top. Up until that point he pretty much just a clueless corporate executive who showed no real signs of anything that took place on the roof. It would be like if Mark Zuckerberg all of a sudden pulled out a 9mm in The Social Network and shot his ex partner in the face. It wouldn’t make sense then and it doesn’t make sense in any way in Robocop. It’s dumb writing and nothing else.

  58. Maybe the difference between 1987 and now, and the challenge that a director remaking a 1987 classic for a 2014 audience through a 2014 studio, is this: Real life has become so outrageous that it’s almost impossible to parody anything in politics, culture, or entertainment. How are you going to satirize elderly Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair at a national convention convened to elect a Presidential candidate? Or Miley Cyrus putting her hair in little devil’s horns, sticking out her tongue, and butt-teasing Justin Timberlake? Or hordes of vapid, talentless, but somehow famous “celebrities” flooding broadband with inane “selfies”? I haven’t seen the Robo remake yet, but I can’t imagine that the Faux News character’s rants in the movies are any funnier or more discomforting than Samuel L. Jackson’s real-life bombast last week against the reporter who mixed him up with Lawrence Fishbourne.

  59. Fred Blosser – exactly, we already live in the absurd future predicted by 80’s satire

  60. Pretty sure there were Neanderthals in the Pleistocene era who thought they were living in the absurd dystopia predicted by the previous generation’s satirical cave paintings.

  61. Nick – I know, I wish at some point they’d made the ROBOCOP for the Rodney King era.

    Blapps – But don’t you think Americans would be upset if soldiers were patrolling the streets too? Drones are a replacement for soldiers, supposedly cleaner because they prevent loss of human life. Would we allow drones to fly over American soil targeting people for assassination, or are we only okay with it if it’s far away?

  62. Debating on whether or not to see this. The big problem for me initially was that this whole crew was talking shit about the original movie before it came out. I got the impression early on in certain interviews that Padilha didn’t think that much of the original, had this sort of, “yeah, this was a good movie……………for its -time-” kind of vibe to his comments. Like his whole point in needing to expand the focus on Murphy’s time with his family and add a new political dimension is, in my opinion, because he didn’t think there was a lot of depth to the original. And then there’s the making fun of the original suit and other smarmy, condescending behavior that just turned me off completely. It goes beyond the fact that the first movie is one of my all-time favorite movies, period–that kind of talk is just divisive. (You guys can appreciate that, right? Imagine if they were gonna reboot Die Hard and the director kept calling it “silly” or one-dimensional or whatever…wouldn’t you start to get a little pissed?)

  63. “Pretty sure there were Neanderthals in the Pleistocene era who thought they were living in the absurd dystopia predicted by the previous generation’s satirical cave paintings.”

    lol you’re probably right about that

  64. ” Real life has become so outrageous that it’s almost impossible to parody anything in politics, culture, or entertainment. ”

    Which is one of the reasons why I think that FUTURAMA is the most realistic depiction of the future ever.

  65. I also enjoyed the movie. Time will most likely erase it from existence but I liked it, and I agree with most of the points of this review.

    Also I liked that it was filmed in Canada because I could spot familiar places. BTW I tried to sneak in on of the warehouses where they where filming those reshoot sequences but I was not able to get in.

    The one thing I kept thinking the whole movie is that, considering they where trying to do something different and look at the story form a different angle etc… why didn’t they make a sequel instead?

  66. Merso, you’re speaking my language. Continue the story!

    I really do like REBOOTCOP though.

  67. Hi Vern: yes, I totally agree that Americans would be upset if soldiers were patrolling their streets. That’s why the bit at the start would have played out exactly the same with real soldiers instead of robot ones. People object to the occupation itself, not the tech involved – they wouldn’t have been any cooler with being lined up and scrutinised by armed humans. So the opening scene tells us absolutely nothing about the cons of drones specifically, only about military occupation in general. If you want to question the logic/consequences of putting troops on foreign (or American) soil, I’m all for that, but you don’t need to make a Robocop movie for that.

    (And if it’s true that Americans would object if human soldiers were patrolling their streets, what do you make of the central premise of the movie: that the only thing the US public needs to be able to accept drones is that they have a human face? Would the people of Tehran have been okay with the drones if they had smiling human heads? I suspect that they’d be even more disturbed! So for me the entire reason why Robocop is created in this version is based on a false premise that just doesn’t exist in real life. Do you know anyone whose issue with drones is their lack of human feelings rather than their questionable accuracy and/or the inevitability of their being used to further imperial agendas etc?)

    When Michael Keaton says that drones would save thousands of lives, the movie gives us no substantial reason to disagree. The drones in this movie are not the wedding-party-bombing, innocent-kid-killing, extra-judicial-assassinating ones that we read about in real life; they are super-efficient machines making rapid and rational decisions based on all the available data in the course of routine and conventionally-accepted military use. We never see them do anything illegal, make a mistake or even break down.

    In this movie’s world, as far as I can tell, drones are fantastically effective and infallible and the only reason why people would possibly object to them is because they are weirded out. By removing all the many real-life reasons to be concerned about drones – by making them so perfect – the movie gives us no real reason to object. I mean, why not put the perfectly efficient robots of this movie on the streets instead of putting human lives at risk? (Leaving aside that the movie totally forgets to establish any need for drones/Robocops in the US.) If a kid has to be killed because he’s a legitimate threat (like in the beginning) why not have a robot do it rather than a human that will be haunted by it forever?

    If the movie really wanted to raise questions about the use of drones then it could easily have done so by having the ED-209 kill an innocent kid at the beginning, or a kid with a toy gun that the drone couldn’t distinguish from a real one like a human could. Or it could have had Robocop make more sensitive/human decisions, as suggested in my previous comment. But it didn’t do either of these things – it gave the kid at the start a weapon, and the choice the robot made is just as subject to debate as the choice a human soldier might have made.

    The only real question the movie asks is: “how can we get Americans to accept these amazing machines?” This is actually a movie about marketing. There is no substantial critique of drones that I can see.

  68. I had no idea it was shot in Canada. But it is of course a natural progression since the television series and PRIME DIRECTIVES. RoboCop now fights crime in Canada.

  69. What’s with all this anti Cananda bullshit on this board for the last week? The original was shot in several US cities, none of them Detroit. I’ll give you a little secret about movies, it doesn’t really matter where they are shot.

  70. I liked the first 3/4 of this one alot. There’s surprisingly strong filmatism going on, I actually liked the action scenes (the post-Robocop ones with all the double-guns and action hero posing and shooting in the dark seem heavily inspired by Equilibrium, which is not a bad thing). The disassembly of Robocop with the lungs in the jar and the endless rows of Chinese factory workers were surprisingly powerful images. Kinnaman, Keaton, Haley, and Oldman are great. The Eagle-Eye stuff with Robocop accessing CCTV databases was a strong idea that was communicated visually in a clean, exciting way. There’s simply too much good stuff here for an outright dismissal.

    But the final 1/4 falls apart, not in a spectacular way, but a frustrating one. Keaton’s character turns into a different person just because there needs to be a final villain, the big finale (he just overrides his programming and shoots him anyway I guess?) is a big anticlimactic letdown, especially after the “Dick, you’re Fired!!” ending of the first one. The whole thing just seems fragmented and slapped together. I mean, Lewis saves Murphy at the last minute TWO scenes in a row! What?

    I agree with Blapps – the movie does seem very pro-drone, but we know it can’t be because this is Hollywood and drones = evil in almost every movie ever, and Sam Jackson was all for them and he acts like a bad guy, so the whole thing ends up feeling muddled and confused even though I can see they were going for complexity. I too, kept waiting for a moment where Murphy’s emotions/humanity would offer an advantage over a robot (discerning a real gun from a toy one, like you said), but it never happened! It’s an obviously intentional choice (and a surprising one) but I don’t really know what the movie’s trying to say. By the way, the climax actually revolves around the trustworthiness of the drones – Lewis trusted their programming so much that he threw himself in harm’s way to save Murphy, which is yet another testament to the drone’s efficiency!

    I think Padhilla and the screenwriters deserve a ton of credit for pulling a Verhoeven and subverting the audience’s expectations and sneaking in a message, unfortunately, the message, whatever it is, still went over my head. Anyways, it’s still a strong origin story and it’s too bad this movie’s not doing well because I would totally see a sequel to this.

  71. Oh yeah, what happened to Miguel Ferrer? His name was on the imdb listing as of a few weeks ago (with a character name and high billing and everything). I do kinda like that this movie was pretty low on the callbacks. The “I’d buy that for a dollar” certainly felt alot more organic than the “get your stinking paws off me you damned dirty ape” groaner in Rise.

  72. Very well said Vern. I saw this with a couple friends, all with lowered expectations, but regardless of those, we still really enjoyed this new Robocop. I have actually been thinking about it off and on since i saw it Sunday, and I am actually kinda floored that so many people are not seeing it for how good it really is. I’ll support the cause, pass positive word-of-mouth and buy it on DVD/Blu-Ray/Whatever when it comes out.

  73. Sorry about that.I was just fucking around with the “anti-canadian bullshit”. I apologize to all canadians for any harm I might have done to your national identity. It was an act of immaturity and I will cease with all trashtalk from here on.

  74. Jack Foley – where did you think you saw Padilha talking shit about ROBOCOP? I haven’t seen anything like that. Here’s a quote from the /Film review I linked to:

    “RoboCop is way smarter than a regular big movie. People ask me, are you scared that you’re doing RoboCop, it’s a classic. I would be fucking scared if I was doing a bad movie that had no ideas in it. I mean, it’s RoboCop. To me, it’s the connection between the automation of violence and fascism that Verhoeven saw and that he put inside that character.”

    And a much more detailed version from the Verge interview I also linked:

    There is a reason why the first movie is a classic, and the reason is it’s a great movie, meaning it’s a great character construction. The character that Verhoeven and Ed Neumeier came up with embodies the idea that the automation of violence opens the door for fascism. And you can play with this idea in several ways. I mean, one way to think about it is to consider what would happen if instead of soldiers in Vietnam, there were robots. America pulled out of Vietnam because soldiers were dying. So once you replace people with robots, you lift a lot of restrictions for war. Then, if you replace policemen with robots, you lose the conscience of the policeman. So if you give an order to a policeman that he thinks is preposterous, he may say no, but a robot you can program to do anything.

    “And Verhoeven saw that — he understood that there was a connection between automated violence and fascism, and he created a character where, inside the character himself, he had Alex Murphy fight against the directives. It’s brilliant. And not only that, he ecstatically created a world I hadn’t seen before. It was in your face — like angry, smart angry — and so it’s a great film.

    “But I didn’t look at it like it’s an iconic movie that I had to match. It’s such a smart idea that it gave me a lot of places to go, so I looked at it in a positive way, not a negative way. I mean, think about doing a reboot of a bad movie that has no substance in it — that would be daunting. And so I just tried to get that concept that they created, and I thought it was time to do it — time to bring it back and to use that concept and that character to a movie that provokes people to think about issues that are relevant today — drones, robots being used for war. This is going to happen. And different countries will have to create different legislation about how to handle those things. The UN will have to decide what to do and what not to do, what to allow and what not to allow, and so on. It’s a real issue that they saw back in ’87, and I took it as an opportunity to start with a very sophisticated idea and then build from there.

    It seems to me clear that he’s not faking it calling it a classic, he obviously has great respect for it and in a thoughtful way, not a stupid fanboy way.

    And who says they make fun of the original suit? As I said in the review they do the opposite, they say that it made prisoners shit their pants. (I also forgot to compliment the movie for casually dropping that they were using prisoners as a focus group.)

    As for your comparison to DIE HARD, that’s not necessary. If I felt Padilha had disrespected ROBOCOP like that I would not be happy.

  75. Don’t worry Shoot, Swedens turn will come! When they start giving tax concessions to Hollywood productions we can all complain about how white everything looks. They could even shoot the ROBOCOP sequel there, and we could give him shit, call him SNOWBOCOP!

  76. Oh man, Vern, so happy to see you liked this as much as I did. I love the shit out of the original Robocop as much as any red-blooded American male and this remake isn’t a classic like that, but dammit it’s pretty good. I think I may have to go watch this again before they yank it from the theaters.

  77. I just wanted to thank you for the hour or so I just spent reading up on all your RoboCop posts. What a fun trip down memory lane: is it sad I remember most of these? …probably.

    And I adore the first movie: I saw it when I was a teenager and it is one of my go-to classics, but I don’t understand why people can’t like this one, too, without it being some sort of Classic Coke/New Coke thing. They’re written in different times for different audiences.

    I honestly thought the family stuff was overplayed: they had like, oh god, NO chemistry together in their big cuddly wuddly family scene before he got blown up and she never really seems to grapple with what she did signing him away like that, at least on screen. I wish she had, I don’t know, some sign of a backstory or life beyond “Imma stand by my man!” because stretching that out over as many scenes as she had was really wearing on me. x_x

    But as for your review, spot on! I agree with your read that it’s not this shallow stupid thing haters are claiming. It does its own thing and does it as well as any movie can having to go through Hollywood and its mill. Thank you for giving me such a great evening’s reading!

  78. I was excited to see the new Padilha movie and I got something that had the same sort of breathless power as his Elite Squad films, at least for significant stretches. The continuous scene where he leaves the police station, gets confronted by his wife, gets worried about his son, overcomes his programming, visits house, decides to solve his murder, has shoot out with bad guys, goes back to the station, kills more bad guys, confronts commanding officer, might kill her but we never know because they pull the plug… balls to the wall filmmaking in my opinion.

    I also like Oldman’s character arc. I appreciated the candid, unsubtle writing in which we see him quickly go from nurturing a patient into playing classical music with his robot appendages to explaining how he programmed away Alex’s free will. It’s the sort of hamfisted, melodramatic shit Padilha seems to excel at and I love watching him do it. Fucking love it.

    I still bet you he was cockblocked pretty bad on this film, but once you make a film you either take your name off it or you stand behind it so I appreciate that he’s sticking by his work.

    The film struck me as being possessed of a wilder energy than most people are giving it credit for. While I also had problems with a number of the inconsistencies and undeveloped plot points and conceptual aspects, I certainly didn’t see anything bland here.

  79. Nah, RoboCop 2 is better than this one.

  80. It had it’s flaws but the positives far outweighed the negatives. Was very impressed how different the tone was from the original and I fucking loved how creepy it got in places

  81. This film is a missed oportunity.
    Yes, there’s a lot of talking about drones, but it’s never applied as real drama. You know you’re in a akward form of storytelling when you have flashbacks in the first five minutes.
    This could have been interesting if Robocop was used as anti-riot police. But in this lame and generic future there’s not such thing as inequality and even an honest cop lives in a huge house.

  82. I think I’d put Robocop and Robocop 2 over this remake.

    People above are kind of missing the point talking about the “pro-drone” scene in Tehran at the beginning with the 209s and the citizen shakedown. It’s not that the robots are doing a great job and are probably better than their human counterparts would be… it’s that we shouldn’t fuckin’ be there in the first place! You could have the Care Bears and a re-incarnated Mr. Rogers doing the shakedowns and it would still be idiotic. The solution to occupying Iran isn’t that humans are too emotional to do it right, it’s that you shouldn’t be occupying Iran.

    Anyway, this was a good movie to watch on the treadmill and not much more. The leads were decent, even though it felt like they didn’t have enough to do other than Oldman. Action was okay. I agree with whoever above said that the pacing was really off.

    If they do a sequel, I’d like to see Robocop face other Robocops in someplace like Ferguson. Time to clean up the streets.

  83. Finally caught up with this one through the miracle of VOD (Random note: German Amazon Prime video has the movie catalogue that German Netflix should have!) and I don’t have much to add, other that I really liked the more philosophical approach and deliberately slow pace of the first 2/3, that made the whole movie feel like a great episode of THE OUTER LIMITS. And I have the feeling that in many of Keaton’s boardroom scenes, somebody snuck some real studio notes regarding the making of this movie into the script. (“He transforms! Kids love it!” “Make him cool, make him tactical, make him black.”)

  84. One thing I forgot to mention (And I haven’t seen anybody mention ever [But I know that nobody cares anyway]): I really liked what they did with Robo’s design in this one. I’m not talking about the “cool” and “tactical” black, but how Murpy was after his Robocopification much taller than everybody and how they made some subtle (CGI enhanced?) changes to his body shape, that made him look even less human.
    Seriously, the more I think about this movie, the more I like it. And I already liked it a lot.

  85. Alien versus Prometheus

    October 1st, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    Well, as atrocious as this remake was, it was probably the best Robocop since “Robocop: Prime Directives”.

  86. “I don’t think so, I think he won that one, so I can’t see it that way either…”

    What? Seriously? The general public doesn’t read about the filmmaking process because they don’t know anything about it and don’t give a crap about it, of course, but you…? How did you miss the “scandal” when Padilha called Meirelles from USA one night and sobbed to him about what the swamp and horror he found Hollywood to be? How Padilha told Meirelles that making Remakecop was the worst experience of his life, how every idea he had was rejected, how he was essentially told to do the dance and be grateful for being in Hollywood or get out, et caetera…

    This was big news in Brazil. It was then translated to English and published in foreign media, which resulted in Padilha being humiliated and forced to lie that “he loved working on the film” and that “he was grateful for the enormous support of the studio” bla, bla, bla.

    But when he got back out after the remake was done, he spilled a little more truth.

    Anyway, it’s essentially the same story as always: a parasite executive wants to make a movie, he doesn’t have any knowledge or talent (or “time”) to make it himself, so he gets a creative, the creative is enthusiastic and thinks he’s there to make his picture, but he quickly finds out that he’s just a servant hired to make the parasite’s “vision” as the parasite wants it. The creative is there to obey and serve, and he has nothing to say…

    If you’ve ever been in “the biz”, you know the experience and you lived through it…

  87. “I don’t think so, I think he won that one, so I can’t see it that way either…”

    What? Seriously? The general public doesn’t read about the filmmaking process because they don’t know anything about it and don’t give a crap about it, of course, but you…? How did you miss the “scandal” when Padilha called Meirelles from USA one night and sobbed to him about what swamp and horror he found Hollywood to be? How Padilha told Meirelles that making Remakecop was the worst experience of his life, how every idea he had was rejected, how he was essentially told to do the dance and be grateful for being in Hollywood or get out, et caetera…

    This was big news in Brazil. It was then translated to English and published in foreign media, which resulted in Padilha being humiliated and forced to lie that “he loved working on the film” and that “he was grateful for the enormous support of the studio” bla, bla, bla.

    But when he got back out after the remake was done, he spilled a little more truth.

    Anyway, it’s essentially the same story as always: a parasite executive wants to make a movie, he doesn’t have any knowledge or talent (or “time”) to make it himself, so he gets a creative, the creative is enthusiastic and thinks he’s there to make his picture, but he quickly finds out that he’s just a servant hired to make the parasite’s “vision” as the parasite wants it. The creative is there to obey and serve, and he has nothing to say…

    If you’ve ever been in “the biz”, you know the experience and you lived through it…

  88. Thank you for sharing that, it’s good to know, and it makes sense. But no, I had not heard that, and this review was written immediately after seeing the movie when it came out, so from what you’re saying it was not even publicly available information at the time. I would love to see what he wanted to do and I’m sure it would’ve been better, but it doesn’t change that I thought this movie, however compromised, was more interesting than it was given credit for at the time. (I was definitely wrong that it would have a better reputation later! Unless being completely forgotten counts as better.)

  89. I’d never heard this either but I found it. He spoke about his lack of creative freedom on the record in 2016 while promoting Narcos.

  90. Well the link didn’t post but it’s Googleable.

  91. Okay now that I’ve read about it I’m pretty sure it was *not* the worst experience of his life, as he has since been sued by the police for the way he depicted them in ELITE SQUAD and since he won they tried to kidnap him and he was (at the time of the interview at least) planning to stay in the states only because he didn’t feel safe at home.

    But obviously they should’ve given him carte blanche, he was a really interesting choice for this movie.

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