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robocop
Click for full sized poster

Robocop

Starring Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, and Samuel L. Jackson
Screenplay by Joshua Zetumer along with Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner
[Based on characters created by Michael Miner]
Directed by José Padilha
website: http://www.robocop.com/site/

IN SHORT: The character is human. This new telling is more robotic.. [Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action including frenetic gun violence throughout, brief strong language, sensuality and some drug material. 118 minutes]

Sorry about that... The policy of this site has always been, and will continue to be, not to compare adaptations to the original material. You can probably find Paul Verhoeven's original on DVD somewhere if you wish to make the comparison. Robocop is a movie movie, with plenty of action and explosions and just enough story elements to give it a little bit of weight. Not enough to have our audience cheering at its end, but enough that we had a fairly good time. Robocop feels very much like a Frank Miller comic book -- we looked it up and, indeed Miller wrote Robocop 2 and Robocop 3 so his influence is still present in the character and film. [Note that we're not saying if we liked Robocop 2 and Robocop 3. Not our policy yadda yadda . . .]

Robocop v. 2014 has all the origin elements that are basic to the character -- a gravely injured police officer is saved and rebuilt by cutting edge technology , most of which includes weapons with an unlimited supply of ammunition. The cost of the "salvation" is that the emotional part of the brain, the part that tells you not to do something because it isn't ... let's call it "proper police procedure" ... is hindered. How Robocop regains humanity, or something like that, is always the core of the story.

Don't argue the point: Batman's villains are borderline insane. Superman, for a very long while, fought SF inspired tech, all developed by one Lex Luthor. Superheroes all have templates. It's where they go that counts. This Robocop takes its baby steps, but there is something missing. . .

Not that we didn't enjoy the film, which blows up Detroit police officer (though he acts like a detective) Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) and leaves what is left as a lab rat for the powerful OmniCorp, a security company which has been marketing autonomous security robots to hot spots around the globe. It's products are not for sale in the United States -- there's a law against robots, actually. No politician trusts that programming will work in hard situations where children are at danger (is the easiest explanation).

So OmniCorp CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) tells his top scientist to adapt the technology to work with humans. Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) seems more concerned with saving the police officer's life and, if weapons tech has to be included, hey, OmniCorp is paying the bills. As far as the rest of America is concerned, they get their news about the goings on in Detroit from Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson), a loudmouth Rush Limbaugh type (except that he's thin and African-American and on some kind of video network program called The Novak Effect.) Novak's rants serve as framing sequence for the story. The man seems to be solidly in the pocket of OmniCorp and the actual use of the aforementioned robots is shown only in Tehran -- that darn Law Against Robots -- so everybody wants to see RoboCop succeed.

Problem is, the human inside Robocop just wants to go home to his lovely wife and son. Both are his touchstone to the humanity he seems to have lost. Alex -- the man inside -- hopes they'll accept what's left of him. The robot programming, set to apprehend criminals of the worst kind and nothing less, could care less. When one side wins out over the other, well, that's when the story kicks into high gear.

There's a tremendous amount of story to work with here and, depending on what part of your inner child gets accessed, more than enough gunfire with the occasional explosion to keep things moving. Let me not forget to mention a cool motorcycle, tailored to RoboCop's every need.

The only thing missing from the entire tapestry is any sense of fun. Every superhero has something that passes for a sense of humor. Every great superhero movie offers up at least one laugh that breaks the cycle of never ending explosion and violence. Robocop is missing only that last bit. Granted, males don't develop as quickly as females and there are a lot of us who are more than happy to see things blow up for ninety minutes or so. Our dates and/or wives? Not so much.

Just about everything that should make Robocop into a monster franchise is present. The film is just missing its shtick. [With Michael Keaton in the cast we were waiting Robocop's equivalent of his "I'm Batman" moment from a different movie a couple decades badk]. We liked what we saw but for us, it's one and done.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Robocop, he would have paid . . .

$5.50

Robocop is a disposable dateflick. Ladies, find a fanboy and let him pay.

amazon com link Click to buy films by José Padilha
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