Reel Reviews: Press reset on Robocop reboot

Uganda’s Watoto Children’s Choir performs the national anthem for Canucks fans during a recent hockey game at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. - Photo submitted
Uganda’s Watoto Children’s Choir performs the national anthem for Canucks fans during a recent hockey game at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
— image credit: Photo submitted

Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is a devoted husband, loving father and earnest detective on the mean streets of Detroit in the year 2028. When he uncovers dirty cops working with gangsters smuggling weapons, they arrange for Murphy to have a deadly accident.

The president of the multinational robotics company Omnicorp (Michael Keaton), and his lead scientist (Gary Oldman), rebuild Murphy into Robocop. Omnicorp wants to put an army of Robocops in cities across America but before they do that, they’ll have to get this first one under control.

We say, “Compared to the original this remake is less violent, more sincere and political.”

TAYLOR: I guess it’s up to the viewer to decide if the above statement makes this version better or worse than the first. This film, like so many, falls into the category of being neither remarkable nor terrible, which makes commenting upon it more difficult, without nitpicking plot points or becoming overly pragmatic.

HOWE: Robocop or should that be Roboslop? I wasn’t a fan of the ‘80s version, so I was going into this with some reservations. Luckily enough for me I can say this is as bad as the original, if not a little worse. The action and effects weren’t very exciting or realistic. Take Robocop’s motorbike, for example. It looked like it had some leftover Halloween glow sticks attached to it to make it look cool. What would have made it cool was if they attached a playing card to the rear wheel. That would have finished it off beautifully.

TAYLOR: Perhaps you didn’t find the effects realistic enough, but you can’t actually be comparing the effects of this film to that of the original Robocop, because they used stop motion animation back then and it looked really cheesy. (I didn’t mind so much back then, I was a kid.) This new film looks much more realistic than the original. However, the story itself is a little unrealistic, so perhaps movie-goers would be best served by expecting a first person shooter style film with a bit of social commentary and a bit of sci-fi philosophy about what makes up a person.

HOWE: Some of the acting came across as low budget TV series quality and that’s being pretty kind. Even the talented Gary Oldman seemed to be just going through the motions, Obviously there’s no new Batman on the horizon, so he has to get his cheque from somewhere. As for Micheal Keaton’s eyebrows, they seem to be the only thing with any intelligence, as they must have known this was going to bomb and left the movie set.

TAYLOR: I didn’t notice Keaton missing his famous eyebrows, but I think you’re right about the characters going through the motions. This did feel like a cheaper, more indie, perhaps TV-style presentation that the filmmakers attempted to gussy up by adding Keaton and Oldman. I guess sometimes even extremely talented actors can get bogged down in a lacklustre script. Still, Robocop isn’t terrible and will probably deliver the goods to anyone having realistic expectations of it.

– Howe gives Robocop 1.5 system shutdowns out of 5.

– Taylor gives it 3 generations before we’re actually able to do this out of 5.

The film is currently showing at the Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon, B.C. Their column appears in The Morning Star every Friday and Sunday.

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