Swanner: Since this seems to be remake week with no less than three remakes opening, we’re starting with Robocop. Based on the 1987 Peter Weller film, directed by hack director Paul Verhoeven, this new version offers up little more than better special effects than the origional. When you look at how this was constructed it all starts to make sense: the director, Jose Padilha, has only one other feature behind him; the screenplay was adapted by first time scribe Joshua Zetumer, and the lead is a no-name actor. How could you expect more than the mess we got? I have $100 million to make a movie with – let’s go with all unknowns?
Judd: HACK DIRECTOR?! You bite your tongue, Sir! Paul Verhoeven is responsible for such delights as Robocop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers and the cult-classic Showgirls. The thing about Verhoeven – and I think this is what makes him genius – is that his movies exploit the lowest common denominator, taking it so far over the edge that he’s satirizing the smut that mouth-breathers lap up. There’s a quote from Showgirls that sums up Verhoeven’s work perfectly, “What you’re doing, at least it’s honest. They want tits and ass, you give ’em tits and ass. Here, they pretend they want something else, and you still show them tits and ass.”
Swanner: … right … Well, back to reality and the review of the current Robocop … the story follows OmniCorp, a multinational defense conglomerate with the money and backing to do whatever they want … except to sell their security drones in America. CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) has the idea to morph man and machine with help from Scientist Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman). Enter Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) a good cop badly hurt in an explosion and perfect to become Robocop. At least that’s what they were hoping for ….
Judd: This incarnation of Robocop focuses on the transition from Alex Murphy to Robocop. While I love backstory, in this instance it was too much – especially when it had nothing to say. Like all movies made after the 80s, when it was OK to just be a hero, we’re left with a flawed, emotional man pining for his family and revenge, and of course “the wife” has to have a major role in it all. Yawn. Verhoeven’s Robocop skewered Regan’s plans to privatize the military, corporate corruption and the idiocy of American culture. Padilha stripped out all the social commentary and added more ‘splosions that the brain dead public remembers from the original. What little lampooning Padilha did, came from watered-down stock corporate slime balls, Jay Baruchel and Jennifer Ehle. Samuel L Jackson as a Fox-style blowhard was the closest thing to a message this movie had.
Swanner: God darnit, Mr. Judd, you use your tongue prettier than a twenty dollar whore. You certainly are passionate about this one. I just found the first half boring and the second half, I just wanted it to end. You’re right; there was no underlying story here. This film wasn’t about anything, after the writer pithed the brainstem of this story all you had left was a lot of action sprinkled in with some tears (for the women). The equivalent of a Big Mac. Bulk with no substance.
Judd: The first Robocop is one of my favorite movies, seriously and non-ironically, because of what it said and the way it said it. The first was a movie with great heart about a (mostly) emotionless cyborg. This remake is a heartless movie about a ridiculously emotional cyborg. While I really liked the way they showed us what was left of the man under the suit, it added a level of pity that was unnecessary. Verhoeven and Weller were out to kick ass and ask the more perceptive of us to reflect on our society. The remake is an extended prequel for a franchise that feels like it was written by a focus group. It’s got something for everyone and nothing that makes it special.
Swanner: 1 Star
Judd: 1 Star