I know I have seen the first RoboCop film by Paul Verhoven in 1987. That was big film back then. I do not really recall much detail about it anymore, except that it was about a policeman who was morphed into a cyborg, and it was very violent. This is new RoboCop film is rated PG-13 and my kids wanted to watch it more than I did. However, since it was receiving good reviews so far, we gave it a go.
The year is 2028, and OmniCorp supplies the world with robotic drones to take over military duties overseas. However, domestically, OmniCorp CEO Raymond Sellars is meeting opposition from Congress. So he decides to develop a robot with a human conscience. So with the cybernetic talents of Dr. Dennett Norton, the first RoboCop was born from Officer Alex Murphy who was critically-injured in an explosion.
I do not really recall how faithful this was to the 1987 original or not, but this film was quite a solid one on its own. The backstory was good, with the political angles and the corporate greed all there to make it interesting. The special effects showing what is left of RoboCop's human body behind all the armor was disturbing. The gun fight scenes of RoboCop vs. drones were shot like we were within a frenzied shootout video game, shaky cam and all.
I did not recognize the actor who played Alex Murphy when we were watching. It turned out to be one Joel Kinnaman, a new name for me. He lacked a strong charisma on screen as lead actor, so the movie had a B- movie feel when he was on. To his credit though, Kinnaman was able to portray the internal battle between his character's humanity vs. the technology of RoboCop very well.
Fortunately, there were big names there like Gary Oldman (as the sympathetic Dr. Norton), Michael Keaton (as the snaky and ruthless Mr. Sellars) and Samuel L. Jackson (hilarious as the pro-robot TV personality Pat Novak) in supporting roles to elevate this film to A levels. Abbie Cornish is also there, playing Alex's conflicted wife Clara.
This is a straight-out futuristic action movie, done by Brazilian director José Padilha in a formula familiar to modern action films of today. It can somehow feel like one of those Marvel films, like "Iron Man", the way it was done. The frenetic computer-generated actions scenes tended to overwhelm the human element though.
This "RoboCop" was exciting in the action sequences and thought-provoking in the moral dilemmas it presents. Ultimately though, it somehow also felt like an unnecessary remake, like that of another Paul Verhoven film, "Total Recall." But it does do its job to resurrect the character, with new and improved technology for the newer generation of movie viewers. It is actually very good if you have not seen the first film to compare it with. 7/10
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."