Dear reader, you may not know this about me but I loves me some RoboCop. This is because I was born in the 80s and, therefore, find it genetically impossible to dislike RoboCop. I am, of course, referring only to the original film. There is reason for this. Almost everything else RoboCop related that has ever been made kinda stunk. RoboCop 2 is meh to decent at best but other than that… well, RoboCop 3, the animated series, the TV series… all pants. That Robocop game made in about 2003 for the PS2? Bollocks. The RoboCop cereal… probably doesn’t exist… but if it did it would taste like shoes. And yet, whenever I see something new based on RoboCop come along I decide to go in with an open mind. I want good RoboCop. There can be good RoboCop stuff made after the original film. I know there can. The NES and Spectrum games were great, as was RoboCop Vs Terminator. The Comics were pretty cool also. Oh, and there’s that Sideshow Collectibles figure… Jesus that figure is beautiful. So, can you guess what this weekend’s dump is all about? Click the link to find out.
It’s about the RoboCop remake trailer. That’s what it is about. I think that was pretty obvious. Has everyone had a chance to watch the remake trailer? If yo haven’t I’ll post it right after this paragraph. Naturally I’m trying to stay optimistic about this. But I’ve been burned before. Hell, I even distinctly remember optimistic for the Total Recall remake trailer. If you’re unsure what I feel about the finished product click here for the review. If you don’t feel like clicking that, firstly, fuck you, secondly, It was balls. I’m kidding about the fuck you by the way. I’m sure you have your reasons. Anyway, here’s the trailer. Digest it and we shall discuss. Well, I’ll type things and if you want you can write something in the comments below.
So, I should probably do positives and negatives of this trailer. Let’s start with the positives. The silver suit looks pretty cool. It’s basically a streamlined version of the original suit. Modernised and all that. Future Detroit looks a mess, as it should. He’s aware that he is Murphy from the start which could open up some potential new ideas story wise to ensure the film isn’t just a retread. It has Michael Keaton and Gary Oldman. The director (Jose Padilha) is a pretty solid director capable of implementing actual character into action films. RoboCop’s voice is all robot like and stuff. So yeah, there’s a few things to be positive about. Maybe there will be more in the whole films… cos it may need them to overcome the issues it could easily have. Let us begin.
PG-13, 12A or whatever the equivalent is around the world… this is not a good sign. I’ve never been one to say a film needs to be ultra violent to be good. I also wouldn’t say that a film series established on violence needs to stay that way. A good story is a good story regardless of how much blood there is. Some stories need it though. Could you imagine The Evil Dead without gore? That would not work at all. There’s something about the violence of Verhoeven’s RoboCop that is intrinsic to accepting the universe the film is set in. It slots in perfectly next to a hero that is, by definition, a little bit silly.
Without the gore RoboCop isn’t the force of destruction he can be. He isn’t dishing out the sort of brutal law the harsh crime filled world he lives in demands. You can’t tell us the criminals of Detroit are all the worst of the worst if they aren’t shown being as vicious and violent as we’ve been told they are. Show don’t tell remember. RoboCop 2 actually has very little blood in it. RoboCop 3 has next to none. The series had none, RoboCop didn’t even shoot people. When you’re up against the most dangerous weapon wielding psychopaths the world has to offer and you’re armed with exactly what would be needed to take them out do you shoot the leg off a wardrobe to trap the villain or do you paint that wardrobe red with his brain matter? If you were RoboCop of course. This all leads me to the second gripe.
Murphy is injured, not killed, by an bomb attached to his car. What to look at first? The lack of death and resurrection or the passive nature of that sort of attack. Let’s go with the latter. The criminals of Detroit are meant to be terrifying. They aren’t scared of the police and they aren’t scared to get their hands dirty. I assume in the early part of the film Murphy makes an enemy of a crime syndicate. What kind of criminals, keeping in mind that they are figuratively in charge of Detroit, would use a bomb to do their work? They aren’t scared of being caught. They want to make an example of Murphy, surely? So why not walk up to his house, murder him in public and probably take out Murphy’s family too? That’s how Clarence would have done it. Instead they set up a bomb and hide hoping no-one finds out. And it doesn’t even kill Murphy so…
Gone is the Jesus metaphor. To be fair, that may be a good thing these days. Everyone is doing Jesus metaphors. Even Man of Steel got in on it despite the fact that Superman’s origin is based on the story of Moses. So without the Jesus allegory thing, what will be in it’s place. I’ve mused that they could go down a Frankenstein’s monster route, the presence Gary Oldman as a scientist, a role that doesn’t appear to be a small one, may lend weight to that. What if the people reject RoboCop? Call him an abomination. Murphy’s pride of his duty to the law leads him to want to prove he can still be the officer they need which in turn leads him to finding out about corruption at OCP. All this while being hunted down by the mistrusting public and criminal underworld? Nah, fuck it. The film will be about a dude breaks free of his societal role to fights “The Man” instead.
Samuel L Jackson is in it. Do we still get excited for him appearing in a film? I mean, I like the guy but man, he’s in everything and plays the same guy every time. Well, except for in Django Unchained. He was admittedly marvellous in that. But here, it feels like they just figured they needed Samuel L Jackson in the film so they shined the SLJ signal, he turned up and they shot some stuff in front of a green screen and called it a day. Maybe I’m a cynic but I just feel like 90% of the time he’s only in a film because they could get him and, with that in mind, who can’t get Samuel L Jackson? He provided his voice for something called Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey. What is that? I have no idea. But he did a voice for it. Sam Jackson lends his voice and skills to things no-one has heard of. It has Chris Pine, James Earl Jones, and actual moon man Neil Armstrong providing voices, amongst many others, and no-one has hear of it. I’m getting off track. Basically, Samuel L Jackson will likely add nothing to this.
The right hand is exposed. It’s an aesthetic thing for sure, but really… why? Apparently in the film they say it’s to give him a human contact point with the public. A PR move so when he meets someone they can shake a human hand. I suppose this could be part of a larger world of OCP marketing led decisions that happen in the film. They do paint the suit black after all. Or maybe that’s just an odd design choice someone thought would be clever. It could be used symbolically though. The exposed right hand being a sign of his position between humanity and being a machine. Between being a human and being the literal right hand of God, his God being his creators at OCP. He’s holding onto his humanity, his face is fully exposed often in the trailer. Maybe the hand is lost and by the end he accepts what he is, gets a new Robot hand, ditches the black paint job passed onto him by his lords at OCP and embraces free will to defy his Gods. Murphy doesn’t die so maybe he’s in limbo between Heaven/Hell and Earth. Could that be too much to expect from a film like this?
Ultimately there is potential for this to surprise. I can actually see it being possible to make RoboCop a full blown action movie… although I would like some blood please. The trouble I think myself, and many others, will have is the precedent set by similar remakes/reboots. Total Recall was pish. A Nightmare on Elm Street a was misguided mess. Terminator Salvation was meant to create a new series of Terminator films set in the war. It was fucking awful. Now they’re planning sequels and remakes. Peter Jackson’s King Kong was way too long and was too in love with it’s effects to truly convey it’s actual story. All that said, it is possible for a remake to be good. Zach Snyder and James Gunn’s Dawn of the Dead is a ballsy no nonsense piece of action horror. Brian De Palma and Oliver Stone took a decent gangster flick from the 30s and made one of the greatest crime films/Greek tragedies of cinematic history. My next film review, coming tonight is of a remake. A very good remake. So, before we totally write of RoboCop 2014 let us remember, sometimes it is possible to successfully resurrect the dead. It just takes more than plonking them in a shiny new suit and putting modern bells and whistles on it. Right now RoboCop is looking like something I’d buy for a dollar. I’d like it to be good enough to pay more for though.