Every so often Hollywood gets the bright idea to remake classic or original films that should be left alone. Now, don’t get me wrong, there have been some remakes in the past that have made a significant improvement from the original. Remakes like: The Fly (1986), 3:10 to Yuma (2007), King Kong (2005), Scarface (1983), Cape Fear (1991) and Oceans Eleven (2001) all stood out from the original. But when there are good remakes, there come bad ones as well. Remakes like: Clash of the Titans (2010), Conan the Barbarian (2011), The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), Halloween (2007), The Invasion (2007), Planet of the Apes (2001) and Psycho (1998) all were awful remakes and films in general. Back to my point, while Jose Padilha’s (Elite Squad) Robo-remake was much better than any of these bad remakes in my opinion, it still did not make a significant improvement over Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 original.
The original Robocop was no masterpiece by any means, but it still had that special something from the ’80s. Verhoeven packed in themes of gentrification, corruption, authoritarianism, capitalism, revenge, dystopia and ultra-violence. These aspects are what made that film so unique from that time period. The year is 2028, and OmniCorp is at the center of their “robot soldier” technology, when Alex Murphy, (Joel Kinnaman) – a good father and cop in the corrupted Detroit – is critically injured in a car bomb. OmniCorp makes their golden opportunity to create their Robocop, turning Murphy into part man, and mostly part machine. Kinnaman did an OK job as Robocop, but I preferred Peter Weller’s performance from the original. Director Padilha lacked Verhoeven’s craft and critical/comical satire in the film. The next flaw was the PG-13 rating. This of course was made to boost ticket sales for younger audiences, but the ultra-violence is what made the original stand out. The ultra-violence was a major factor for the original because Verhoeven used it to satire the American culture.
While the special effects were a huge improvement from the original, it still should not be the biggest factor for a film. One noble performance from the film that I should point out was Gary Oldman. He plays scientist Dr. Dennett Norton and does a superb job. Oldman has always been an actor I have admired, so if you do go see this film, go see it for his performance alone. Another thing this film did a decent job on was focusing more on Murphy’s family relationship after he turns into Robocop. Sadly, half way through the film the ending became predictable and was totally bland from there on.
Overall, this Robocop had some entertaining aspects (special effects and Oldman’s performance), but it also contained negative feedback for the lack of direction, absence of Peter Weller, lack of ultra-violence, the predictable ending and the lack of making it stand out from the original.