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20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/3/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/30/2014
We often have various reasons for why we don't like the idea of a specific movie being remade. I saw 1987's RoboCop at a sneak preview showing and was blown away by it. I had expected a dumb action movie, but instead found a subversive and gory movie which somehow managed to have a message about corporate greed and technology, but was still a lot of fun. Not only that, I saw the film with a girl who was part of a very complex summer-time romance. Therefore, not only do I think that RoboCop is a film which shouldn't be touched, there are a lot of fond memories attached to it as well. But, everything old is new again, so it was inevitable that "Robo" would come back in some form or another.
Set in the near future, Omni Corp has become a global leader in defense systems. Their humanoid and tank-like robots patrol the streets in foreign countries, keeping the people safe. However, due to legislation, robots of this sort aren't allowed on American soil. Omni Corp's Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) urges his team, Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman), Liz Kline (Jennifer Ehle) and Tom Pope (Jay Baruchel), to find a way to remedy this. And they come up with a sinister plan. Meanwhile, Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is a Detroit police officer and devoted husband who is determined to find out how criminals got guns which had been in police custody. Due to his snooping, Murphy is severely injured in an assassination attempt. Omni Corp takes his body and creates a cyborg, as having human parts in this machine will circumvent the no-robot law. When Murphy awakens, he is shocked to see his new form and must adjust to his new life, as must his wife, Clara (Abbie Cornish) and his son, David (John Paul Ruttan). Sellars is delighted at this new creation, but he soon learns that RoboCop is not a willing servant.
In my recent reviews forJack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and Endless Love, I wrote about movies which weren't intended as remakes, but wound up being transformed into such due to their similarities to other movies. I know that this version RoboCop was meant as a remake/reboot from the outset, but those familiar with the original film, like me, may feel otherwise.
There are two ways to approach a remake -- you can either do a shot-for-shot redo with different actors and new technology, or you can try to change key elements of the original. Given the choice, I guess I find the second one preferable, for at least that can open the door to some originality. With RoboCop, the filmmakers have taken this notion and ran with it, as they've taken nearly every main idea from Paul Veerhoeven's film and changed it. Plot points concerning RoboCop's family, memory, mission, and actions have been rotated 180-degrees in some cases, making this a film that certainly isn't a carbon copy of the original.
This is where things get tricky. If you've never seen the original film, you obviously won't be aware of these changes. If you have, you'll realize that all of the differences here went in the wrong direction and robbed the movie of much needed emotion and drama. The whole point of the original RoboCop was that a man was completely stripped of his humanity and he had to piece it back together. We get none of that here. Following the trend of recent super-hero movies, where you must be able to see the star, RoboCop's visor (which is now retractable) is only down for a portion of the film, making Kinnaman's face visible for most of the movie. This RoboCop's memories are intact and he's allowed contact with his family...so there's no suspense or drama there. The entire air of mystery which drove the original movie is gone here. And then we have the villains. The bad-guys in the original were truly bad guys who we hated and we couldn't wait to see them get their come-uppance. The villains here are simply tech guys who want to circumvent the government in order to make money. There's no real menace or nastiness to them, and therefore they simply don't register with the viewer.
Therefore, what we have is a completely toothless and benign RoboCop which leaves no impression on the audience. Again, there is no sense of drama or loss here. It's ironic that the characters spend so much time worrying about RoboCop's emotions, but not those of the audience. The PG-13 level violence is pretty weak. This version of Detroit looks too squeaky clean to need the likes of RoboCop. (Not to mention the fact that the film has dropped the subplot in which the other police officers worry for their jobs.) Director Jose Padilha was brought in from Brazil to make his Hollywood debut here, but he certainly didn't bring any South American heat with him. The worst part is that the movie has done away with the odd competition between RoboCop and ED-209. I hope that you weren't waiting for this version of RoboCop to meet you on the island, because it missed the boat.
RoboCop contains absolutely no levity on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 31 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, most notably RoboCop's red stripe and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is very good as we can easily see textures on objects and the depth is impressive as well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The subwoofer effects are very good, and we feel every explosion and gunshot. The track makes nice use of highlighting RoboCop's motorcycle. As it zips by, the sound travels through the front and center channel's seamlessly. The surround effects shine as well, most notably during the opening battle.
The RoboCop Blu-ray Disc contains only a few extras. The Disc offers five DELETED SCENES which run about 4 minutes. Obviously, all of these are quite brief. There aren't any new characters or subplots here. "Omnicorp Product Announcement" (3 minutes) contains 10 "commercials" for various products, such as ED-209 and the EM-208 robot. "RoboCop: Engineered for the 21st Century" (29 minutes) is made up of three featurettes; "The Illusion of Free Will: A New Vision" gives us an overlook of how this remake was approached and how it differs from the original. This includes comments from the creative team and cast.; "To Serve and Protect: RoboCop's Weapons" shows Kinnaman in gun training and looks at the unique weapons shown in the film.; and "The RoboCop Suit: Form and Function" is the longest piece, as it looks at the thinking behind the new suit and how it was designed, built and how Kinnaman got into it. The extras are rounded out by two THEATRICAL TRAILERS.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long