Friday, April 11, 2014

'RoboCop' (2014) REVIEW

'RoboCop is the remake to that 1987 movie that was SO violent that my mom wouldn't even let me watch the edited for TV version (when she was in the house, that is).  Well, this one is PG-13.  No blood spurts.  No one gets melted by toxic waste only to go SPLAT when they are hit by an oncoming truck.  I don't remember any actual blood being shown outside of scenes that take place in hospitals (in a medical context) when RoboCop is being built.  I mention that, because, when I heard that they were remaking RoboCop as a PG-13, I thought to myself that it might be good if it was just as satirical as the first one, but just "PG-13" the violence.  It succeeds and fails at the same time.  Allow me to explain.

Just as the old one satirized 1980's corporate greed, the new RoboCop harps on a hot-button political issue, the use of drones in warfare.  There is a company called Omni Corp that wants to extend their drone program to police the United States, but public opinion is not on their side, so they build RoboCop as a PR stunt, to show that robots can be used in American police work, but easing people into it, because he is part-human too.  He's a gateway drug to the full-robot cops they want to produce.

Joel Kinneman plays Alex Murphy, a good cop who is trying to hunt down a traitor in the Detroit PD.  This results in him getting a car bomb placed in his car and seriously injured (not killed like the original).  Alex's wife (played by Abbie Cornish) agrees to volunteer him to be turned into a cyborg (later named RoboCop).  I liked the fact that a lot of the story revolved around Alex's wife's reaction to what he was going through.  Not only because the original film neglected this, but because it gave the film a lot of added heart.  In the first movie, Alex doesn't remember his previous life when he becomes RoboCop, only to try to piece it together when he receives flashbacks (that involve his wife).  In this version, he remembers his family, but when Omni Corp realizes that Alex's human emotion cuts down on his efficiency as a cop, they try to take that from him and make him act more robotic.  They do the same thing backwards, but it adds to the conflict of the story, Alex being caught in the middle of this corrupt company's publicity stunt while trying to hunt down the corrupt cops that injured him.

Gary Oldman is great as the scientist who gets roped into creating RoboCop by Michael Keaton as the CEO of Omni Corp. (who should be in more movies).  Samuel L. Jackson is awesome and steals the movie as...basically a black Bill O'Reilly...named Pat Novak who has his own TV show (The Novak Element...not the O'Reilly Factor) and is on Omni Corp's side, wanting robots policing the streets.

I mentioned that the violence is considerably less here (no more than a TV cop show), but there are scenes that show what remained of Alex Murphy after the explosion and...well, you may be grossed out to see a lung moving in a glass case attached to Murphy's head (and some weird trachea thing).  Or the scientist sticking computer chips into Murphy's brain.  It's "medical", but I thought it was excessive.  And, the third act, takes a bunch of intriguing ideas that were introduced in the first two acts of the film and, well, doesn't play them out.  And the film ends in the most anti-climactic way they could have possibly ended it, dropping the things that were interesting and including one plot twist that was not explained and made no sense whatsoever.

So, the new RoboCop is decent.  The first scene is awesome and thought-provoking, lots of good acting...but you are going to walk out of the theatre wishing they had wrapped it up better.  And that he had said "your move, creep!"  They use all of his catch phrases except for that one.  I give it 2.5 blood spurts out of 5.

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