1987’s RoboCop is one of my all time favorite movies. Full disclosure: I have a predilection towards sci-fi/action movies from the the 80’s, and I carry this disposition with nary a hint of irony, or “hipster” posturing. I grew up on these movies, probably watching them from an age that would send most modern “PC” parents’ heads spinning with such a fury that their biological reaction couldn’t be anything but large amounts of vomit spitting out of their mouths, and thus turning them into some sort of vomit sprinkler system. You see, my parents never really put limitations on my viewing habits based on the arbitrary rating system, but on my level of maturity. So, when I was 9 I succesfully tricked them into thinking I was much more mature than I actually was. How did I do this? I carried around copies of War and Peace, and The Bible. Pretty easy stuff. Of course, my immaturity was eventually exposed when I started crying over having to eat broccoli, but god damn’t it all, it was a good run. Anyways… What was I talking about? Oh yeah! RoboCop! I really enjoy that flick!
The original movie is one of those “double narrative” type of deals. It serves up a cultural satire while at the same time telling a Jesus allegory about a man who comes back from the dead as a cyborg(I guess you could call him RoboChrist.). It posits a world where crass commercialization and big business, and superficial needs have become the focus of culture, and corruption in terms of morality is at an all time low. The big corporations have been feeding this system for financial gain. They are creating social unrest/chaos so they can provide answers to these dilemmas, and RoboCop is one of their first forays into providing “assistance.” The thing is, he’s not put out there to actually help, but to serve the interests of big business. It’s a really smart take on how corporations try to embed themselves in our cultural fabric, and take advantage to suit their own ends. Hell, it’s even kind of prescient considering recent advancements in public monitoring and policing.
It’s a movie that’s 100% entertaining. From it’s exaggerated commercialized world, to it’s bombastic violence, the movie keeps your attention, and even makes a point about peoples will power and how strong a facet that can be even when under some type of “programming.” A lot of the “enjoyment factor” comes from how ridiculous it is, and it’s exaggerated qualities is what allows the film to make it’s point. So, what happens when you take a more straightforward approach? Well, it would seem that RoboCop(2014) aims to answer this burning question that only a very brave few have dared to ask.
Yeah, this movie looks like a RoboCop flick without the satire. It looks to be PG-13 gritty, and pretty straightforward. The DNA, or “the program” if you’re feeling randy, from the original seems to be there, but will the character of Alex Murphy work without the ridiculous backdrop? Well, here’s the thing: The ridiculous world of the the original is lining up more with our actual reality on an almost daily basis. So, taking a straightforward approach may not be entirely unsuccessful.
When it comes to re-makes I would much rather filmmakers take the concept and do their own thing. I find it a lot more disappointing when they just try to completely ape the original, and don’t attempt a vision of their own. I’ve seen the original and love it. I don’t need that movie re-made. Well, to be honest, I don’t need it to be re-made at all, but if they’re going to anyways they might as well go in a different direction.
There’s a bunch of stuff going on in this trailer. It shines a light on how corporations have gotten into the defense business, and we are given brief glimpses of their work thus far. Like drones, walking tanks, and A.I. controlled machines. One of the more interesting things said in the trailer is Micheal Keaton’s bit about how they need to make it RoboCop more aesthetically appealing, so people will find him “sexier,” and more intimidating. Oh yeah, the new “look.”
So, most people have pretty much come out with some form of universal hatred of the new look for RoboCop. I don’t have any huge problems with the new design myself. I’m more concerned with the quality of storytelling over aesthetic design. Yeah, I love the original get-up just as much as the next person, but it doesn’t really matter, to be honest. The quality of the original film isn’t predicated on costume design, and neither does the new one. Sorry, folks, didn’t mean to burst your bubble. Obviously, I prefer the original, but that has to due with those old fashioned pangs of nostalgia, and not the actual redesign. I think that’s really the crux of most peoples negative reactions. As fans, we have a hard time dealing with letting go, and change. Having said that, I still find it a little weird that this seems to be one of the larger points of contention. The trailer does try to have it’s cake and eat it too, because there is an actual “old school” suit bandied about for most of the running time. They’re aware of the negative reaction that the set photos caused, so it would seem like they are hedging their bets with the promotions. They’re trying to keep that original fan base as much as possible.
The trailer doesn’t give much away in terms of actual plot, and basically just shows us what we already know. It sticks to the concept itself, and hints at the inner struggle of the cop robot known as Alex Murphy, which is pretty similar to the original. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach to marketing, but it does kind of read as bland, stock dystopian sci-fi stuff. That’s my biggest takeaway; It seems straight forward to the point of mediocrity. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t more actual “meat” to the story, or at the very least there should be, but nothing is really grabbing me other than morbid curiosity. I don’t know, I feel weirdly indifferent about this “re-imagining,” and I honestly don’t have too much to say about it. Oh, don’t worry, I still totally will, though.
I like the idea about discussing drone policing, and militarized police through a science fiction lens, as it sometimes the best way to make a point. The genre allows enough distance to actual explore themes, and for some reason it makes people more comfortable with discussing the more “draconian” aspects of these policies. It seems like that is going to be the focus of the film, and it would also seem that at some point RoboCop turns on his creators and fights “the system,” and further reinforces the whole Jesus/Man of the People aspect of the original.
The cast is pretty exciting at least. I always like seeing Michael Keaton in movies that are not Jack Frost, and I’ve come to really like Joel Kinnaman from his work on the recently canceled(Again!) The Killing. Also, Gary Oldman, because, well, he’s awesome. I think Kinnaman is well cast, and from the little bit I can gleam from the trailer he seems like he’s carrying the appropriate demeanor.
I’m really curious about the tone of this flick. I really hope it’s not as straightforward as it seems, but those hopes are probably for naught. Hey, we all know however disappointed we are in the trailer we’re still going to see it. Nerds, and movie buffs are nothing if not masochists to some degree. Who knows, though, maybe it will surprise me. After all, it’s just a trailer, and at the end of the day that only means and represents so much. Well, at the very worst it will inspire people to watch the original movie. Some for the first time, so, that’s the silver lining here. Also, they’ll probably re-release the original, or something. I heard a lot of bad things about the original bare-bones Blu-Ray, so I never picked it up. Maybe we’ll get some super awesome “Your Move, Creep” Edition! I’d buy that for a dollar! Oh yeah, I just went there!