Robocop Review

It is seldom that I have done a movie review on my blogs, but I have been at the theaters a couple more times than usual lately (which is to say twice in the last two weeks) and unlike most of my movie going experiences this one was worth the money. Let me start by saying, I am an unusually cruel critic when it comes to seeing a movie in the theater. I cannot remember the number of times I said to my wife, “We should have just saved our money and rented this one.” Or, at times, just walked out on the movie all together (Will Ferrell #1 case study). With that said, I am a huge fan of the idea of Robocop; I’ll explain that more later.

The night before my buddy and I were to go and see RoboCop, I went to Rotten Tomatoes, and saw that the film was getting fair but not great reviews from both fans and critics alike. Some of which told me it lacked the satiric foundation of the original. On top of that, for one of several 1980s reboots to hit the screen this year, RoboCop had a less that stellar opening.

With all of this freshly in my mind, I went into the theater with little to no expectations. Can I just point out that this should be how we always approach watching a new movie, but seldom do? That way if the movie is rotten we can say, “That’s what I thought.” But if its great or just ok, we’ll not be too disappointed in the forty dollars we just laid down.

RoboCop in many ways is a virtual remake of the original with updated dialogue and better special effects, but with just a few new elements, which I found timely and thought provoking. The story gets underway as two sides of a heated debate rage. In a nutshell, most of the world is protected by armed robots, but there are laws on the books in the US that prohibit use of robots in law enforcement. The thinking behind the ban is that a robot would not be able to make moral judgments and could end up killing innocent people.

OmniCorp is a multinational conglomerent run by a man named Raymond Sellers (Michael Keaton).Let’s just take a minute and acknowledge the great Michael Keaton: arguably the best Batman of the movies, the creepy Beetle Juice, and one of my personal favorites, Blaine Sternin on the Frasier television series. I admit, Michael Keaton was a huge draw to seeing this film for me, despite the poor reviews. There is something amazing about the presence that Keaton brings to the screen; he is essentially the same in every film, yet embodies different characters in  such a legendary way! That is what I call acting! Keaton’s Sellers is not the brains behind OmniCorp, but more like the public persona of a giant organism, think what Steve Jobs was to Apple Computers. We find Raymond Sellers looking for something that the American people can rally behind as he tries to overturn the American laws against Robot Law Enforcement. Sellers was soon to be in luck.

Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) with his partner are investigating corruption and weapons smuggling, when he is nearly killed in an attempt on his life. Doctor Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman)  has the chance of a lifetime, combining man and machine. The surgery works and Alex Murphy becomes the Cyborg RoboCop. This part of the film differs significantly from the original in that in the first Alex was dead and they just combined the RoboCop suit with the dead police officer; the reboot has the suit saving Alex’s life. To me, this is a more plausible story line.

Without giving much more of the film away, I will share my rating system from 1 to 4 with 1 being the highest rating:

1. Pay for a movie ticket and be unable to wait to buy said movie on dvd.

2. Buy a ticket.

3. Wait for Redbox or Netflix.

4. I wished I hadn’t even seen it!

I would put this movie at a 2 worth seeing in the theater, but not worth owning. There were a couple big downsides to this  film, Samuel L. Jackson as a TV pundit does some major over acting (and why is he even in the movie?). Gary Oldman, who I really loved in the Dark Knight, goes in and out of his ‘American accent’ which really drives me crazy! The reason I love Sci fi movies is that they deal with moral and social problems. The problem with this RoboCop is that it teeters on the cusp of some interesting social issues, but never fully addresses them (Robots and Drones used in war and police work). What makes a human being unique and more valuable than machines, and in the future how can we tell what is man and what is machine? The film is a decent attempt (and I hope for a better sequel), but fails to make us uneasy or think in the ways sci fi movies have the opportunity to.

Thanks and til next time

Daniel J. Dunlop