Following in the footsteps of the 2012 Total Recall remake (remember the fact that that exists?), another Paul Verhoven classic is being reimagined/remade/rebooted/reintroduced to modern audiences; Robocop. The new trailer has just hit and it’s time to assess whether it will be coming with us, dead or alive.
The plot seems basically similar to the original 1987 film. In the not too distant future of 2028, officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is a loving husband and father who is killed in the line of duty. Murphy’s body is then used by the robotics industry titan OmniCorp as part of their latest experiment to create a half man/half robot police officer. Thus, Murphy is reinstated onto the Detroit police force as Robocop, Omnicorp’s prototype who searches for his humanity. The trailer can be seen below;
I’ll just make my biases clear right now; I love the original Robocop. It manages to blend all this horrific gore, cultural satire and genuine human emotion into one entertaining package. It showed the skills Paul Verhoven had as a director and managed to age quite well over the past quarter of a century. So naturally, I should have been apposed to the idea of a remake. However, I wasn’t initially. Robocop as a franchise has pretty much been wrecked since the onset of the 1990s, with two far lesser sequels, a lame cartoon and way too many SyFy quality level mini-serieses than anyone was asking for. So, starting fresh isn’t that awful an idea, especially with up and coming action director Jose Padilha of the Elite Squad films behind it. Then, that first trailer for the 2014 film hit in September and it left me so cynical about the entire thing, making the film feel like generic action schlock that just so happened to be named Robocop.
Well, the final product is only a few months away and from the looks of this new trailer… there’s still a lot to be desired. In terms of positives, I’ll say this much; this second trailer at least gives me the impression that they’re trying to integrate social commentary into this remake. The scenes with Samuel L. Jackson promoting the idea of Americans embracing the robotic police force and Michael Keaton formulating the idea of a cyborg cop with a conscience show that the filmmakers are trying to bring in some satirical elements, which shows a bit of reverence for what the original was trying to accomplish in terms of inhumanity with corporations and the media’s influence over the masses. There even seems to be a few cool updates on the commentary as well, particularly with Jackson’s character being a stand in for the various news pundit type of personalities we’re all too familiar with in the last decade or so.
That all being said, everything else still seems like a generic sci-fi/action film. The effects aren’t that impressive, most of the actors don’t seem interested in what’s going on and the humor seems painfully corny (“Robo-phobic”? “Bad Cop, Robocop”? Really guys? REALLY?). Even the social commentary feels thin and under cooked in favor of the action. What worked so well about the original film was how much it embraced being over the top in all arenas, whether it be the social commentary, the violence or the performances, while still managing to squeeze some solid emotion out of Alex Murphy’s plight as he searched for some remaining humanity within him. Based on the both trailers for this remake, there doesn’t seem to be that much spark or imagination shining through at all. It all just feels so lifeless and hollow.
What about the rest of you out there? Is this new Robocop destined to give the franchise new life or will it end up being worse than Robocop 3? Post your opinions in the comments below!