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'RoboCop' rises above the remake curse

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There's nothing fanboys and girls hate more than remakes of classic properties deemed untouchable. I can think of several reboots which were greeted with disdain when they were released. "A Nightmare on Elm Street," "Clash of the Titans," "Dark Shadows," and "Friday the 13th" are just a few that come to mind right away. However, I've rarely heard more condemnation and anger than what's been targeted at the reboot of "RoboCop." After seeing the film, I can tell you it's completely unjustifiable.

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Director José Padilha and screenwriter Joshua Zetumer have successfully delivered a "RoboCop" for a new generation. The movie is packed with violence and truckloads of action, but doesn't falter by watering down the meat of the message and the questions it asks. "What makes a man?" "Does man have a soul; and if so, where?" "Do we have free will?" In between all the gunfire, pyrotechnics, and CGI, we get asked some philosophical questions that might leave you thinking after the credits roll.

Is the biting satire of the original "RoboCop" present in the remake? No, it isn't. I don't think it was the intentions of Director Padilha to mimic the style of the first movie. That would come across as a sad attempt at trying to be as good as the 1987 version. I choose to look at this "RoboCop" as a completely different animal. It's not trying to be as good as the original. It's trying to be its own thing and rest on its own merits.

I really enjoyed how they delved more into the personal life and emotional damage done to Alex Murphy's family when he's transformed into "RoboCop." It's heart wrenching when he sees his wife and child for the first time after his rehabilitation and conversion. I couldn't help but be shocked at the sight of how much of his actual body is left when they show it in graphic nature.

None of the actors are just walking through their roles in "RoboCop." You can tell each one was personally invested in proving to the world that this new version had something to add to the franchise. Joel Kinnaman portrays Alex Murphy as a man trying desperately to find a balance between maintaining the tough ways of being a street cop with the gentle and loving attitude it takes to be a father and husband. Michael Keaton is just as flailing and kooky as he's ever been. Gary Oldman perfectly captures the role of a doctor torn between doing right and wrong while dancing in a gray area becoming more and more dark.

The movie is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action including frenetic gun violence throughout, brief strong language, sensuality, and some drug material. Is there as much gore as the original movie? To be honest, no there isn't. The graphic nature of the 1987 version is toned down. I don't think it affects the quality of the movie, though.

"RoboCop" is a perfect blend of action movie mayhem, sci-fi excitement, and emotional drama. It's proof that people can use their heads and evaluate social issues while watching things blow up. I have to say that the CGI work was some of the best I've seen as well. This is one remake worth taking the time to see, but with an open mind not expecting a carbon-copy of the look and feel of the 1987 original.


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