HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Robocop (2014)
HTS Overall Score:86
Director Paul Verhoven is a rather unique director who has a certainly sardonic take on violence and social satire in his films. We all remember the ultra-violent (for its time)/tongue in cheek take on “Starship Troopers” and his Arnold vehicle “Total Recall”. With “Robocop” his wild over the top violence and satire of the rising crime rates in Detroit City (back when Detroit City actually HAD a population) was balanced with a healthy dose of sarcasm and poking fun at the American public and their swallowing of all the corporate propaganda and rhetoric that was concerning him. Creating a veritable classic, “Robocop” has become one of the most widely loved and quote action movies second only to the quotability of Arnold films in the 1980s. Spawning some poorly received sequels, “Robocop” is still on my personal pedestal of favorites to this day. So when we heard that Director Jose Padilha was looking to reboot “Robocop” there was a collector cry of WHHHHHHYYYY! From the fanbase. When it was revealed that Fox wasn’t going to allow an R-rating those cries of WHY! Turned to rage. One of the most memorable features of the original was that Paul Verhoven uses ultra-violence like a paint brush, allowing us to see the ludicrously of the situation as well as to make it so over the top that it wasn’t a horrifying experience. How is a watered down PG-13 version of our beloved walking robot going to fare with the public? As it turns out there’s a mixed bag of experiences here. “Robocop” 2014 is a decent action film, but when compared directly to its predecessor it falls short in many ways. If you can distance yourself from the original then we’ve got a fun action movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Omnicorp hasn’t completely privatized the police force in this rendition. As Verhoven prayed off of the fears in the 1980’s of the corporations controlling everything in our lives, we now have some social issues that have been hot in our decade. Drones and robotic replacements here on U.S. Soil. Instead of nonfunctioning ED 209’s and EM 208’s they are fully functional and being used across our military as means of urban pacification with amazing results. People are terrified and under the control of robotic eyes, but the machines DO work well. It’s just that the American public rightfully does not want robots on American soil. Especially ones under military control. With Samuel L. Jackson playing Pat Novak, a sort of Larry King character, we see that there is a lot of push to replace U.S. police personnel with these robotic units. That way there is less crime, less police casualties and Omnicorp can make a TOOOOON of money off of this deal. Head of Omnicorp, Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton), is desperate to find a way to tap into the American marketplace. With the Dreyfuss law in effect, he can’t put a machine in a position to pull the trigger on American soil. This creates a problem and his solution is to hire Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Olman), a master in cybernetics, to put a living man INSIDE a machine. With detective Alex Murphy suffering a near fatal car explosion from drug lord Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow), he has a prime candidate for his new experiment. Only being able to save pieces of Murphy they install his remaining organs inside a modified EM 209 skeloton frame. Thus born a man inside a robot body. Someone with hardware and software of a machine, but the mind of a man. Something the public can rally behind.
Only problem is, when you have a man inside of a robot, it’s still a man. Just with manmade body parts. His mind is still intact and he makes the decisions and suffers from the same instinctual “flaws” that a regular human does. So to get around this issue, Omnicorp allows Alex to operate under his own free will until the visor comes down, and then once his combat mode is activated the software takes over, all the while drugs pumping into his system gives Murphy the illusion that he’s in control of the machine, thus creating a loophole in the law and giving Sellars a way to get his machines on the street and in the public’s good graces. Now things are obviously going to go wrong when you start playing with chemistry and the human body and they certainly do. The piece of humanity that still in Robocop exudes more control than Omnicorp predicted, creating a chain reaction when Murphy starts investigating his own “murder”. Dirty cops are uncovered, the lies that he’s been fed start to trickle in and our resident Dr. Norton starts developing a conscience. All of this leads up to an epic showdown of man vs. machine, or maybe part man/ part machine vs. machine shall we say.
“Robocop” 2014 is a solid action flick and suffers from some flaws in the story and acting, but its main hurdle to overcome is the direct naming and comparison to the original. Remakes are always tricky, because no matter how much you try and distance yourself from the original the sequel will always be compared and graded against that original movie. “Robocop” (the original) was a product of its time and was full of some fantastically memorable characters. Clarence Bodicker was one crazy villain drug lord and stood out as Robocop’s best nemesis to date. Dick Jones and the gleeful OCP sidekicks hammed up the screen and there was more blood and gore than a “Friday the 13th” movie. In the remake we have an exact lack of real villains. Antoine Vallon is extremely forgettable, basically there to act as an inciting incident for Murphy to get into the suit. Even the corrupt cops aren’t really that important. Although they do create an awesome scene when Murphy deduces who set him up. That moment when he walks into the police station and tells Lewis that things are going down I was sitting there going “oh yeah baby! Now THIS is Robocop”! Even Sellars wasn’t wildly evil or scary. He was a cutthroat businessman, and except for trying to kill Murphy near the end really isn’t THAT bad of a guy. He’s making a product and trying to sell it. He’s just not very ethically inclined. The action set pieces are really cool though and even though Jose Padilha couldn’t get Fox to give him the R rating, he pushed the PG-13 rating as far as he could before they made him stop. So while it’s not as bloody or over the top as the original, this new take has some very good action scenes.
I really did appreciate that Jose Padilha cares a lot about the original film. You can see the TLC and nods to the original as they incorporate the original theme song back into the beginning of the film, which is just electrifying to me as a child of the 80s. There were a few added lines that made chuckle and raise my drink to the past as we got the famous “I’d buy that for a dollar” and the famed “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me” (which was one that I felt fell a bit flat). Jackie Earle Haley is surprisingly the best actor on screen as he actually hams it up as the overzealous mercenary commando in charge of the ED and EM line of machines. He plays the perfect jerk foil to Murphy’s stoic calm, adding some friction and action that was lacking elsewhere. Unfortunately for us Joel Kinnaman is more robotic OUTSIDE of the suit than he actually is inside. His acting range is actually about on par with an ED 209, basically as flat as a board. I got very little emotion from him, and when he DID try to emotional, it didn’t really work. Which leads to another complaint. We only get to see the real “Robocop” for about 20 minutes as they lower his dopamine levels to counteract his heightened emotions during an electronic upload of information. During those 20 minutes we get the ice cold robotic hero that we grew up with. Up until that point he was just a man inside of a cybernetic outfit. Unlike the original where we had a robot who believed that he was Alex Murphy, a piece of machinery that was gaining a little bit of humanity back that was taken from him, this Alex Murphy is a fully functioning human being put inside of a robot body and suppressed to ACT like a robot. Which is where his conflict from. As a result we have a much more human character instead of the machine desperately trying to connect with a humanity that he had lost. It’s not a fatal flaw, but it’s not the Robocop we all knew.
As I said it’s not the Robocop we knew, but it’s still a very solid action film if you can separate the original from the reboot enough. When I saw it in the theaters I was rather disappointed, but after a second viewing the film is actually growing on me. We aren’t subject to Paul Verhoven’s quirky humor and aggressive violence (or Peter Weller’s pouty/kissy lips) but it’s definitely sleek, shiny and a solid popcorn movie that will certainly give your home theater a workout.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action including frenetic gun violence throughout, brief strong language, sensuality and some drug material
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=19722[/img]Holy moly, mother of chocolate malt balls! With a mixture of Arri Alexa and Sony RED cameras, Robocop 2014 looks simply scrumptious. With tons of bright colors, ranging from the neon red of Robocop’s visor and LED’s to the rich greens, blacks and blues of Detroit City it shines from top to bottom. Bathed in a mixture of dark blacks in the seedy underworld, to the bright Urban areas of the city, Robocop is one pretty looking picture. Free from any of the artifacting flaws or resolution glitches that can happen with digital photography, it’s like looking through a window into another world. Photorealistic and gorgeous from top to bottom, side to side, it is probably the best looking picture I have seen in a very long time (at least since Gravity). Detail is insane, you can see everything from the acne on Joel Kinnaman’s face to the fluttering of Claire’s hare in the wind while picking up her son from school. The bullet wounds on the chest, strands of wire sticking out from a bullet hole, it’s all there to see without any imperfections. The razor sharp clarity of digital photography is unmistakable, and being a movie ABOUT hi-tech electronics and robots, the lack of grain texture fits perfectly. I honestly can’t say a single bad thing about this 2.40:1 AVC transfer. It’s just amazing. Bravo Fox, bravo.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=19730[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA English track is one beast of a recording, let me tell you that. It’s nearly as perfect as the video score, giving us a robust track that is a mix of aggressive and highly detailed at the same time. The aggression is kept well within check, as it pounds mercilessly during the copious action scenes and then can be kept at a more subdued level during many of the dialogue scenes. The film literally pulsates with awesome LFE that ranges from a sonic assault during gunfire and action scenes, and then can accentuate the quieter scenes by still adding some incredible power and literal WEIGHT to Robocop’s impressive footsteps. Dialogue is clean and clear, with no imperfections that I could audibly discern, with a dynamic range that’s very wide, but kept in check so that it doesn’t wake the neighbors one moment and have you struggling to hear dialogue the next. Surround usage is superb as it adds a dimensionality to the experience that is much needed. Bullets plink and impact around the user and the roar of the Detroit city streets reverberate all around the listener. The detail from a single footstep is heard and replicated easily, even during the more boisterous action scenes, but the 360 degree immersion is never lost in the chaos.
• Deleted Scenes
• Omnicorp Product Announcement
• RoboCop: Engineered for the 21st Century
• Theatrical Trailer 1
• Theatrical Trailer 2
• Sneak Peak
“Robocop 2014” is not the Robocop that we grew up with, but it’s an entertaining action movie in its own right. Given plenty of TLC from director Jose Padilha, it gives plenty of nods to the original while creating its own take on the classic character. As a reboot it tends to fall short, but if you can ignore the comparisons to its predecessor sharing the same name, you’ll get a lot of fun out the action and some incredible HT workouts as it sports a picture perfect encode with amazing audio. I would have liked a few more features, but it seems that special features are much less a pressing need in today’s home video market. Definite recommendation to check out. Good fun, weekend popcorn fun.
Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman
Directed by: José Padilha
Written by: Joshua Zetumer, Edward Neumeier
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi, Urdu, Thai DD 5.1, Castillian, Italian DTS 5.1
Runtime: 117 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: June 3rd 2014
Buy Robocop 2014 Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Give it a Watch
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