Saturday, 22 February 2014

Robocop (2014)

Robocop poster.jpgDead or Alive, you're finishing this film

In 2028 Detroit, when Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) - a loving husband, father and good cop - is critically injured in the line of duty, the multinational conglomerate OmniCorp sees their chance for a part-man, part-robot police officer.


Whenever a new remake is announced, the internet reacts in the same way: with a quick judgement of disgust and cries against the studio for allowing such a sacrilege. Robocop was the same, since fans could not envision the bulky cyborg redone better than the satirical black comedy classic which reveled in violence.

There's a notable lack of black humor and ultra-violence, which are two things that helped make Verhoeven's a classic, and without them, the film is left a dull affair that lacks in memorable moments. The toned down violence was inevitable, as there would be no way a studio would remake a film and then restrict the amount of people who can see it with an R rating. But by doing this, Robocop seems defanged, and anybody who remembers the original will be put off by how tame this law enforcement cyborg is, especially whenever he merely stuns somebody.

Padilha chooses to focus on how the humanity is taken from Murphy, as opposed to Robocop coming to grips with the fact he's really human. While this is an interesting route to take, it leads to many scenes overstuffed with melodrama and drags things out considerably.

Where the action was one of the many high points of the original, it is easily the films low point. José Padilha overuses the CG, leaving action scenes which lack in excitement. The satirical segments lack an edge they proudly held in Verhoeven's classic, instead delivering the satire in a heavy handed manner that's only justified for including a fun Samuel L Jackson into the film.

"What do you mean i'm no Peter Weller?"
Joel Kinnaman does a good job in giving a robotic performance needed for the titular robot. It's just a shame it crosses over into the human side of his character, as evidenced anytime he tries to show emotion. Abbie Cornish doesn't fare better, being limited to only one facial expression and trying to make up for it with her tears. Needless to say, the chemistry between the two is non-existent. In fact, it's the rest of the cast who fare better, with the ever-dependable Gary Oldman, gruff trainer Jackie Earle Haley and Michael Keaton's shady CEO livening things up.

Aesthetically speaking, the change in suit makes perfect sense. The bulky, silver suit was a by-product of the 80s, and an attempt to recreate it would look silly in comparison, as evidenced many times throughout. The decision to change the suit to a more sleek one, in black, is a mixed bag. Gone is the hulking presence perfect for instilling fear into the criminals of Detroit, but in its place is a suit that is more practical to the era, especially with the colour choice of Black, which is all the range.

José Padilha has taken the cult 1987 hit that was Robocop, and remade it into a dull tale hampered by a bland lead, an overuse of CG in action and a heavy handed attempt at satire, making for a dull 118 minutes.

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