Better Effects, Less Fun

The first thing fans might notice about the 2014 RoboCop reboot is that it seems to be missing something that was prevalent in the 1987 original: blood.  Whereas the original film made no effort to hold back on the violence, the new film aims for a broader audience with a PG-13 rating.  What it lacks in blood and violence it tries to make up for with a topical political agenda, addressing the ideas of drone use and automated law enforcement in our modern society with a look at a possible near future.

It is 2028 and although a law called the Dreyfus Bill keeps robotic drone security off of American streets, we are using it to control populations around the world.  The opening sequence shows a Tehran flooded with ED-209s and Terminator-like androids.  They analyze every living thing to determine whether it is a possible threat.  Of course, it’s a horrifying idea, but the media plays it up to be the key to a happy society.

Joel Kinnaman as Alex Murphy/RoboCopBack home in Detroit, the company who builds these machines is looking at the potential profit should this type of automated police force be authorized at home.  They decide that the answer is to combine robotics with humanity by putting a man inside a machine.  It just so happens that an honest and dedicated cop named Alex Murphy has just been blown to pieces by a car bomb and his wife is willing to do anything to keep him alive.  Just a few months later, Murphy finds himself with a new metallic body.  The question soon becomes whether he will be able to be the lethal robot enforcer his bosses want him to be without losing hold of his humanity.

One thing this reboot does well is updating the original film’s landmark special effects for the modern effects age.  It certainly does not reinvent the wheel, but it does take the original concepts and gives them a digital polish.  For example, the ED-209 droids still look and move the same as they did in the original film, just minus the stop-motion animation.  Although the original costume does make an appearance, RoboCop also gets a makeover.  The new black design with intimidating red eye slot makes for a slick looking hero, especially when riding on his equally impressive motorcycle.

In addition to the blood and guts, what is also missing from this reboot are the criminals.  We don’t get to see this version of RoboCop stop a convenience store robbery or take down a couple of threatening rapists.  There is a crime lord named Vallon who sets the plot in motion, but he is a bland character whose demise is so unspectacular that if you blink you might miss it.  Instead, the movie’s central conflict focuses on Murphy’s creators and their desire to do whatever it takes achieve their goal, no matter the cost.

Although the action scenes in the new RoboCop are entertaining, there are none that really stand out and blow your hair back.  It also felt as if the film could have had more of a sense of humor, too.  This lack of just being fun is where the movie truly suffers when compared to the original, a movie many people still remember fondly over 25 years later.  It’s likely that in another 25 years, it will still be that groundbreaking original movie that most people remember while this mediocre remake is most likely forgotten.

RoboCop is rated PG-13 for “intense sequences of action including frenetic gun violence throughout, brief strong language, sensuality and some drug material.” There’s a lot less blood in this remake, but there are still some graphic images that might disturb some viewers; no matter what age they are.  The PG-13 rating works, but it’s definitely closer to an R than it is to a PG.


Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of RoboCop.