All there seems to be lately is remakes or reboots (or sequels) populating the local multiplex. A sad state of affairs where we find film companies repeating a tried and tested formula for success. Last year we had a double whammy of decent remakes with the likes of Maniac and Evil Dead. Following hot on their heels we now have a remake of Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 masterpiece of violent satire; Robocop.
A remake to one of my favourite films was never going to go down well with me, especially when I got persuaded by a good friend to go. Out of curiosity I thought about taking the plunge and watching it just to see how atrociously bad it was. It was also so I could spill a bile fuelled rant on this blog about how awful it really was. But then something bizarre happened, my crossed arms and stubborn nature began to subside the longer the film rolled on.
While it looses the over-the-top violence that made the original so enjoyable, it instead focuses on a more developed emotional story about the loss of identity. There is a moment early on when we see what is actually left of Murphy after the transformation, and it’s a moment that is genuinely heart breaking to watch (in large part to Joel Kinnaman’s performance).
It does keep the satirical edge that Verhoeven’s original had, but instead of a multitude of almost fascist-like advertisements, we are instead treated to Samuel L. Jackson’s angry news host Pat Novak. The inclusion of Novak’s exposé reporting helps to add some needed levity to the otherwise serious tone.
In the original you wanted Murphy to get violent revenge on his murders and bring them to justice, here you have him coming to terms with his life without a functioning body and the ethics behind the freewill of a cyborg. By making this a more emotional film it provides another interesting take on the Frankenstein structure that made the original so appealing.
Then we have Gary Oldman’s Dr Norton who is torn between wanting Murphy to have freewill and to deliver a functioning product as part of his job. Seeing Murphy slowly changed from a freethinking partial human into a mindless drone with human characteristics is emotional hard to watch at times. You genuinely feel for his loss of identity; possibly because as an audience we build a lasting human bond with Murphy pre-cyborg and get to see more of his family life.
Its not all good though as the moments where it tries to knowingly reference the original, comes as though it was shoehorned in at the last moment. Also the action sequences suffer slightly from a hyperactive camera and over reliance on CGI alterations. That’s not to say they aren’t enjoyable, they were just never going to reach the dizzying heights of 1987s punch to the gut moments. Also it ends on a rather flat note, but at the end of the day Robocop 2014 seems to be more about the journey rather than the destination.
Director Jose Padilha – whose Eilte Squad series are possibly some of the best modern action films – has managed to take a beloved classic and provide his own spin on the material. With a set of quality actors (welcome back Michael Keaton) and a keen sense of the emotion behind loosing ones identity, this remake was still more enjoyable then most recent films of this ilk.
Is the Robocop remake even a patch on the original? No not really and it was never going to be, but it kept me entertained and is genuinely interesting in places making it the second best entry (at least in my eyes) within the Robocop series. Although it wasn’t needed the end result is far from a being a waste of time. As a fan of the original, I really was surprised by how much I enjoyed this take on it.
Many fans will think I’ve gone mad with this thinking, but if I’m totally honest I’m impressed with how this sanitised version of one of my favourite Sci-Fi films has turned out. I for one will certainly not be spraying bile fuelled hatred at it now I have (rather reluctantlyat first) now sat through it.
I’ve given what many might believe to be a controversial opinion on an unneeded remake. Have you see this new version and if so what were your thoughts? Sound off in the comments section below.