RoboCop Reboot Forgets to Upgrade
Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop is undoubtedly one of the most iconic action films from the 80’s. But like so many other franchises from that decade, Hollywood has this tendency to fall back on these films as a creative crutch.
Like so many reboots before, RoboCop falls victim to inadequately doing its predecessor justice. The concept is still present one way or another. Joel Kinnaman steps in for Peter Weller (Star Trek Into Darkness) as Detroit police detective Alex Murphy. Murphy and his partner Jack (Michael K. Williams) are sold out by crooked cops when trying to bring down a crime boss. Jack is left untouched, but Murphy is nearly killed by a car bomb.
Enter OmniCorp, the US government’s supplier of robot soldiers. Their innovations have sparked controversy leaving many citizens uncomfortable with robots assigned to patrol humans. OmniCorp’s CEO Raymond Sellers (Michael Keaton) and scientist Dr. Norton (Gary Oldman) propose a compromise placing a human inside the robotic suit.
There’s something a bit off with this latest RoboCop reboot, but it’s not all bad. This RoboCop dives headfirst into the human element. Murphy is fleshed out much more than Weller’s version, driven by revenge towards those who nearly killed him. It’s a welcoming change of pace.
SEE ALSO: The Grade Book: RoboCop (2014)
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple of a road for director Jose Padilha. RoboCop suffers exactly the same way 2012’s Total Recall reboot did. It’s a watered-down, pandering PG-13 movie, who’s very heart screams R. The sharp satire is gone as is the gratuitous violence. Even now on home media, we expect a unrated or extended version of RoboCop. Nothing has come of that I’m afraid.
Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton don’t add much to the supporting cast, though a bit less forgettable than the robotic Kinnaman. Samuel L. Jackson, however, adds his typical flavor we come to know. Jackson’s inserted through RoboCop as a vocal news personality sharing his two cents on the plot. He’s in full form and having boatloads of fun as Pat Novak.
For what it’s worth, RoboCop pays homage several times to the 1987 film. The distinctive score by Basil Poledouris is lifted out of that film and into just the right moments nearly 30 years later. Also RoboCop’s silver suit makes a brief appearance before transforming into sleek black armor. The new suit does take time to get used to, though doesn’t mesh well with Murphy’s CGI remains.
RoboCop doesn’t fail as a reboot. It’s just not necessary when the original film is still accessible to this day. Had it revved up its intensity with this human twist, this may have been the start of a new franchise.
RoboCop is a fine looking film, heavily detailed in its 1080p transfer. MGM has done a bang-up job keeping noise and aliasing to a bare minimum. Day sequences and heavily-lit environments benefit best, while darker scenes don’t fall that far behind. RoboCop is certainly a clean representation of its digital source.
MGM’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5. 1 surround track is better than expected. RoboCop is missing out on a powerful 7.1 surround track, but the current track remains impressive. All of the key action-heavy sequences in RoboCop are highlighted. Between guns blazing and ear-popping explosions, there’s plenty to appreciate. RoboCop’s mechanical moments are also noteworthy as are the effects from the massive EV-208 robots.
MGM limits RoboCop to one hour of supplemental material. The standard deleted scenes and trailers are typical additions. Though, three special features, nearly 30 minutes total, delve behind-the-scenes. The RoboCop Suit: Form and Function is the most detailed bonus, highlighting the designs of the new suit. The Illusion of Free Will: A New Vision and To Serve and Protect: RoboCop’s New Weapons are briefer supplements, yet informative.
The Best Buy exclusive metal packaging is impressive all-around. The front features the new black suit with the title arranged vertically. The back artwork is complemented with EV-208 ready for combat.
RoboCop barely scrapes by as a passable reboot of 1987 Verhoeven film. The film ironically feels more humanized this time around, but holds back on delivering over-the-top lock-and-load action pieces.
- Movie: C+ (6/10)
- Video: A- (9/10)
- Audio: A- (9/10)
- Special Features: C (5/10)
Grade: B- (7/10) – Recommended
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Matt Marshall is a YouTube movie reviewer who hosts MNMreviews. He has a B.A. in Communications/Journalism from St. John Fisher College and resides in Rochester, NY.