The F*ckin Black Sheep: Robocop (2014)

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

Robocop (2014)
Directed by Jose Padilha

"​​Robocop only seems more relevant today"

So it turns out film fans, especially genre nuts, don’t really dig remakes, reboots, reimaginations, or however producers want to label the product. As annoying as that can be, we often forget about the business of Hollywood. If the studios own characters or a property, they’re gonna try to find a way to make money. Can’t blame them. It’s business. Why let a title just sit or keep re-releasing the same Blu Ray (calling it a new edition) year after year if they can make a new chapter and more money?  

Take 2014’s Robocop for example. People bitched about a new version, as if it would wipe away Paul Verhoeven’s work and flush childhood memories down the shitter. Who gives a f*ck if they make another? They’ve already made two sequels, a TV show, and an animated series. Let's face it, if the movie is good, fans will see it.  If done right with talented folks, it’ll only enhance the property.  And that’s what we have with Robocop.

Is this updated version better than 1987’s? Nope. Not even close. Is it better than all the sequels? Yeah, it is. The special effects are better. The technology is better. The action is better. Problems are different now, meaning the movie has something new to say about the world.  Robocop only seems more relevant today with our over-dependence of technology.

Smartly, the studio hired a good director in Jose Padilha (Elite Squad) and gave us a hellva cast: Nick Fury/Sam Jackson (as a sleazy TV host), Omar/Michael K. Williams (as Murphy's partner), Rorschach/Jackie Earle Haley (as a gun loving asshole,) Sweet Pea/Abbie Cornish (Mrs. Murphy) Evil Genius/Gary Oldman (as a scientist), and Batman/Michael Keaton (as Dick Jones…but not Dick Jones). Now 1987 had Peter Weller, who was never a huge star, and in his place comes a TV star...that guy from The Killing (Joel Kinnaman). He's pretty good, keeping the humanity in the character, but never really standing out. (By the way, Keaton and J.E. Haley are my standouts). 

As for the plot, we still have two cops Murphy and Lewis (now a dude), but now they end up getting too deep undercover with some bad people. Eventually, Murphy gets blowup with a car bomb, leaving him dead. Well, almost. His life is spared when he becomes mostly machine minus his head and a few other body parts. He then becomes a pawn of OmniCorp as they want to mass produce Robocops for billions. 

Most reboots attempt to distance themselves from the original, even ditching memorable elements. The newest edition doesn’t stray too far from the original. while still doing its own thing. For starters, it keeps that booming, overzealous score for the opening but then goes elsewhere. In place of an overrun, cash strapped futuristic crappy Detroit, we have a futuristic Detroit that frankly looks better off than the one existing today. Sure, things are bad, but nowhere as bad as 1987 (which takes away from the film's power). 

This Robocop also surrounds Murphy with more “good” people. For one we have his wife around, although I don’t think she’s needed. I liked the loneliness of Murphy in the original film, where his only connection came through his partner. But here, Murphy remembers too many events and people. It's a major flaw. The film might lack the same biting satire, I do like Sam Jackson's Pat Novak TV commentator who loves  doing whatever he’s told (he even suggests that Congress has become pro-crime for not supporting Robocop). 

It's too bad Robocop didn't do what it should've at the box office. It would have been fun to see more adventures of the Tin Man with a fast shooting gun. This might not be the original, but it sure didn't bitch slap it either. 





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