Friday, February 21, 2014

RoboCop (2014) Review:

RoboCop is a timeless character. His image is a staple in the 1980's sci-fi decade. The first, directed by Paul Verhoeven in 1987 was a smash hit. It's sequel in 1990 followed up with lackluster reviews but still maintained the majority of traits that made the first one a hit. The third one in 1993 fell flat for everyone except for the few forgiving. Once that was over, fans and people in Hollywood alike were curious to when and if the beloved franchise would return. Well here it is and while it isn't bad, it does require some addressing on various elements.

Waking up for the first time.....
The basic plot is similar to the set up of 1987 version but instead of Alex J. Murphy just joining the police dept of Detroit, the audience will be brought in where he's been on the force for quite some time. After being almost killed from an explosion, Alex Murphy is reassembled as the future of law enforcement. But as Murphy soon finds out, things are not all that good. The backbone of this movie and the story is about corruption and how people can not be trusted no matter how nice they come across as. If there's one thing that fans will enjoy is all the tidbits that first time writer Joshua Zetumer included in the screenplay.

The homage is definitely there. You want to see ED-209s? They're in there. You want to see that gun leg attachment RoboCop has? That's in there. You want to hear some of the memorable dialog from the first film? That's also sprinkled across the whole hour and forty-eight minutes too. But one of the things that fans may not agree with is the direction that the story took. Instead of RoboCop actually cleaning up crime in the city, there's lots of scenes dealing with getting used to the new Robo suite, training and setting out on a personal vendetta to find who brought him to near death. The issue of ridding crime is touched upon and a few arrests are made but that isn't the main focus of it. The Murphy family is what has the priority in this film and unfortunately it doesn't feel totally like a RoboCop movie. It should be noted that although it isn't the best decision, it is a direction that was at least fully addressed. Unlike before when it was lightly grazed upon in the first and half finished in the second film.

For characters, the casted actors play the parts well, but I am getting tired of some of them. For example, I understand that Samuel L. Jackson is a very sought out actor, but to see him in almost every popular franchise gets obnoxious. He's not even a main character and he is seen way too much in this movie. Sam Jackson does not need to be in every movie to make it good - it's not necessary. Same goes for Gary Oldman, his character is particularly more significant and gives a more interesting performance even though his presence could've been covered by another actor. However, it was great to see Michael Keaton come back for big role. The last time Keaton was in a theatrically released film was The Other Guys (2010). Wow.

For the most important part, Joel Kinnaman as RoboCop was good. He was able to portray the emotion required to show what a trouble individual he had become. But it was his take on Alex Murphy that had me rather disgusted with. The way Kinnaman portrayed Murphy was more like a cocky hardheaded punk, it just didn't feel right. Peter Weller's interpretation of the character was more soft spoken but still serious. Here, Kinnaman just gets angry and yells consistently. Speaking of which, there are a number of scenes where all the actors are just yelling. Could we stop that please?

Yeah no.....find another movie -___-
Lastly, the action, special effects and score were all integrated. The Robo suit looks great and the dark tactical design was a nice upgrade for the current day appeal. The action sequences were well staged too but I didn't find them anything truly unique. The rating also should have been given an R, not a PG-13. As stated for RoboCop 3 (1993), the world RoboCop lives in is very violent, blood is needed, otherwise, the content and tone is lost. As for music, Pedro Bromfman's score had a Steve Jablonsky / Hans Zimmer -ish feel, which was respectable. Bromfman even briefly plays the original RoboCop theme (which he should have continued). One thing I didn't like was the random insertion of contemporary music. Not needed, especially the end credits. It just shouldn't be for a film like this. Altogether, it plays out well but it has very different feel.

The properties may resemble that of the original but the feeling is different. The actors, music, action and special effects are commendable - the story is where the essence of locking up crime gets corrupted.

Points Earned --> 7:10

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