A modern day retelling of the 1987 classic that has its fair share of glitches.
The year is 2028 and fear in America has never been higher. With war, crime, and corruption almost everywhere, the OmniCorp has the solution. OmniCorp has recently created a new robot army that will end humans having to risk their lives to fight crime and replace them with robots. With this new era of machine quickly becoming a topic of much debate, Congress puts in motion the Dreyfuss Act. This new bill bans the use of robots as law enforcement until proven effective. Unhappy with the implementation of the bill, OmniCorp’s CEO, Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) asks Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) to create a new prototype that is half human and half robot that he can sell to the public. Nolan soon learns about a recent car explosion that left police officer, Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman), paralyzed from the neck down. It doesn’t take long before Norton and Sellars agree that Murphy is the perfect fit as the world’s first RoboCop.
As an 80s child, I grew up watching a lot of the films and television series that Hollywood studio executives have recently green-lit to remake. We all know and I think for the most part have accepted that studios will continuously remake horror films, but when it comes to cult classics like RoboCop that is when people start questioning things. Like so many others, I grew up watching RoboCop and loved that the film mixed action, science fiction, and dark comedy. The film also had so much to say about society that still rings true to this day and left us as viewers with a host of quotable lines that include “I’d buy that for a dollar.”
This new retelling does a decent job at telling a similar story while bringing it up to date for a modern day audience. While the die hard fans of the original will surely find lots to complain about with this film, I honestly think that director José Padilha and first time writer, Joshua Zetumer did a decent job with the remake without making feel as if it was a carbon copy of the original. The story for the most part has a similar tone, however, as a whole it is entirely different. The film’s story is much more modernized to showcase things that are actually taking place now. Samuel L. Jackson‘s character Pat Novak, hosts his own show where he criticizes the government and pushes his beliefs onto the American People. The idea of corruption and greed is still very much alive in this retelling, but its just told in a different light.
I really can’t go too much into the story without spoiling this film. I will say that the whole setup as to how Murphy becomes RoboCop is different as well as the events that lead up to that. Again, it has some similarities since they both deal with crime and corruption, but for the most part the story is very different. Also, the entire thing about cops going on strike to fight back against the government and OmniCorp is missing from this film so just be warned.
My biggest problem with the film was not the changes to the story, but rather the odd pacing and setup for the film. I honestly found this movie to be incredibly boring at times and even though I can’t pinpoint why, I found myself struggling to be invested with these characters and the story. I think the film tried to create character development but it really didn’t work, at least not for me. I had a hard time caring about any of the characters including Murphy’s wife, Clara (Abbie Cornish) and his son, David (John Paul Ruttan). I feel like the way the story was it relied very heavily on these two supporting characters yet even though they cried and showed emotion, I didn’t feel anything.
Speaking of the performances, I thought that all of them were fine, however, there weren’t too many that stood out or were overly memorable. I think Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton were the strongest of the bunch, but considering their backgrounds in film that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. I thought Samuel L. Jackson was just playing Samuel L. Jackson has an extremist show host. I think Alex Murphy himself, Joel Kinnaman, was fine and he did what he could. He didn’t show much emotion or depth, but I think that’s the way the script set up the character. I also found that Abbie Cornish was very underused, even though when she was on-screen I liked her performance.
My other gripe with the film is the use of special effects and CGI while did look stellar, I just miss the old days of practical effects. I know this is a minor nitpicking issue but I grew up watching the cult classic so I was so used to seeing the actual robots rather than special effects. It was nice, however, that the film did showcase the classic suit within the film.
All in all, I found the RoboCop remake to be decent which is exactly what I expected from it when I walked into the theater. Is it a film that will blow anyone away? No, I highly doubt it, but at the same time its entertaining enough. Personally, I agree with those who state that studios need to leave the classics alone. I understand that on some levels that they want to introduce this old tale to a new generation, but honestly it rarely turns out to be as good as the original. I think this new generation of film lovers need to take chances with films that dare to be different instead of always relying on remaking a classic or adapting a book for the big screen. If nothing else, go back and look at what makes a classic, a classic. I think that if studios tried to figured out why there are so few films nowadays that can be considered classics that they would be much better off than haphazardly trying to take stories that we already love and make us love them again.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for RoboCop is a 6 out of 10.