Sunday, April 06, 2014

Serve the public trust, protect the innocent, uphold the law [Robocop (1987) review]

Robocop is one of those movies I remember growing up.  I don’t remember when I first saw it.  It came out when I was 11, so I don’t think it was in theaters.  (Yes, it’s a very violent movie.)  It was probably on TV when I was older.  I had heard that there was going to be a remake of the movie.  I haven’t seen the remake yet; I’m expecting it to be a shiner version of this one.  However, if I do rent it, I’d like to have a recent memory of the movie to compare it to.

For those that don’t know the basic story, the Detroit of the future.  Detroit is bankrupt and has outsourced it’s police department to Omni Consumer Products, or OCP.  One division of OCP is working on new ways to patrol the city.  One idea is the ED-209.  When it fails miserably, an up-and-coming employee named Bob Morton (played by Miguel Ferrer) suggests the Robocop project, which needs an officer to die so that he might be remade into a cybernetic enforcement unit.

This infuriates Dick Jones (played by Ronny Cox), the senior vice president who happened to want the ED-209 to work, at least long enough to get a lucrative military contract.  Enter Alex Murphy, played by Peter Weller.  He’s just transferred to a precinct serving the wrong part of town.  As luck would have it, he ends up ‘volunteering’ for the Robocop project on his very first call in his new precinct.

Robocop a wild success.  He can’t be hurt.  He can’t be bribed.  He’s able to single-handedly clean up Detroit.  The trouble is that there’s corruption within OCP that Robocop cant’ quite seem to deal with.  He also has to deal with lingering memories from Murphy.  He can’t let his old life go that easily.

This is one of those cases where the movie seems dated, mostly in the special effects.  (The ED-209 has a definite stop-motion feel to it.)  It seems like an eighties version of a dystopia.  I will say, though, that they did seem to call Detroit going bankrupt.

I don’t imagine it was too easy for Weller as Robocop.  The costume covers everything except around his mouth for most of the movie.  We don’t get to see much facial expression as Robocop except towards the end, and even then, it seems emotionless, which I’ll admit is appropriate.  I don’t imagine it was particularly easy wearing that costume.  (However, it’s one of the few times that a stiff performance is called for.)

The movie is very violent.  Murphy being tortured and killed alone is enough to not let children see the movie.  Add to this that Robocop has to deal with all manner of criminals from rapists to drug dealers.  He also hunts down the people responsible for his being tortured and killed.  The violence is over the top.

What surprises me, though, is that the movie spawned not only several sequels, video games and the like, but also two animated series.  I’ve never seen either one, but I don’t imagine they could be that appropriate for children.  (From what I can tell, they do follow continuity at least marginally, so it’s possible that they’re intended for adults.)

The movie is primarily action.  There’s no twist ending.  There’s no romance.  We get to see a lot of gore.  At least the pacing was good.  I don’t feel like the movie overstayed its welcome at all.  I’m curious to see what the modern version looks like, but I’m also interested in checking out the sequels.  (It looks like Netflix has the live-action series as movies that were reedited from the episodes, although I don’t see the animated series.)

No comments :