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Building a better Robocop

Robocop (film)

Rating:
Star3
Star
Star
Star
Star

Robocop: Rated PG-13” (1 hour, 44 min.)

Not bad, not as good as the original, but not bad
Not bad, not as good as the original, but not bad
MGM
Stick with the original
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish, Jackie Earle Haley

Directed by: Jose Padilha

Back in 1987, and 1990 we were treated to a pair if brilliantly visceral films that were cutting-edge satiric, and over-the-top violent that presented us with a new world-view of a dystopian future that was controlled by corrupt corporations and venial, small-minded men. That film(s) was Robocop, but even the third installment of that film in ’93 was better than the reboot that we were treated to this week. The original series was all pyrotechnics, and frenzy as giant mechas and cyborgs battled it out on the streets of Detroit, predicting a society well into technocratic decline with the spirit of man still rising in ascendance over the corporate overloads that tried to keep their jack-booted foot on our collective throats. This film isn’t so much that as it is the very personal story of one man’s quest to avenge his own death and bring his killer(s) to justice.

This time around it is the year is 2028 in the first film it was, ironically 2014 — hay, have you been to Detroit recently?) and multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is at the center of robot technology (Holy Asimov, Batman, what ever happened to the Three Laws of Robotics?). The company’s drones are fighting and (apparently) winning American wars around the globe and now the company (anticipating massive profits) wants to bring this technology to the home front. Alex Murphy (Kinnaman) is a loving husband, good father and dedicated cop doing his best to stem the tide of crime and corruption in Detroit. After he is critically injured in the line of duty, OmniCorp utilizes their remarkable hi-tech science of robotics to “save” Alex’s life. Only he isn’t so much saved as turned into a hollow mockery of life as a dehumanized cyborg, engineered and retro-fitted into a robotic body so as to calm the rubes into thinking that there is a man in the tin can, and not just an unfeeling machine.

Needless to say, Alex is returned to the streets of his beloved city with amazing new abilities, but with only a mocking semblance of pseudo life. Unlike its predecessor, this film is actually a much smaller, more personal film than director’s Paul Verhoeven apocalyptic vision, all of which is not to say that this is a bad film, but it is a different film. Personally, we preferred it’s predecessor. Still, perhaps the best thing to be said about this Robocop film, is the appearance of Michael Keaton in film (as OmniCopr's CEO, Raymond Sellars).

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Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.