Thursday, July 10, 2014

Review: Robocop (2014)

Robocop  starring:

    Joel Kinnaman as Alex Murphy
    Gary Oldman as Dr. Dennett Norton,
    Michael Keaton as Raymond Sellars, 
    Samuel L. Jackson as Patrick "Pat" Novak, host of The Novak Element 

If you have seen the original Robocop movie starring Peter Weller then you know the basic premise of this robocop.   Of course there are minor differences in say how Murphy is injured and used in the robocop program.  Also some interesting differences on how Murphy reacts to the suit.   Even the environment is a subtle (well maybe not to subtle) changes.  

Murphy is played much more human.   Even the "body" armor is less threatening, (except maybe for one short interlude)  Even the "corporate bad guys" seem much more rounded than in previous incarnations.  The one character that stands out as two dimensional was the great character actor Samuel L. Jackson.  His Pat Novack television   commenter is almost humorous in it vile spewing right wing(if you could truly call it that) commenter is fairly obviously a compilation of  several radio and television  personalities.  

It is also obvious what a budget 10 times as much as the original and almost 3 decades of film making magic can do to even a less complex theme as Robocop.  The CGI is stunningly good in its execution and integration, to the point that you wonder at times is Kinnaman wearing an appliance or is it cgi.   I have a feeling that most of the "suit" effects are cgi.....

There are moment that the movie tries to pluck at your heart strings, honestly they fail miserably.  I don't think it is for lack of trying, because the original Robocop, for all intents, tried the same thing with the same results.  It fails because of a really simple idiom - You can't have your cake and eat it too.  Both camps worked very hard to get us to invest in Murphy as a "robot" and wrest it away with some ill conceived and awkwardly executed "human moments"  just didn't work for me.

But the action scenes.... Because Murphy is a bit retro, in that there are already humaniform  robot officers who already patrol the streets of other countries and it is the training sessions and later breaking up drug and arms dealers that is more than enough for the action junkies.  (though if we are going to be honest, these were generic as well. ) 

Overall I think the 2014 version rises to the challenge of the original 1987 version.   If you have seen that version and liked will be ecstatic with this offering, even if you hadn't seen the original, if you like running gun battles, high speed motorcycle chases and iconic one - liners, then this film is tailor-made for you. 

To be honest, I would rate Robocop a 7.  Nothing really new here and throwing 10 times the budget at this product didn't really net 10 times the movie.  The star power wasted on this film is what disturbed me.   Oldman, Jackson and Keaton are very recognizable names and more than likely drew a hefty paycheck.  To then under utilize (I guess, except Jackson) them is difficult to understand.  Keaton of course is miss-cast, Oldman would have been a better choice (though the researcher was a much more interesting, I don't know what I am talking about)

And so,  If I were reviewing for the big screen, I could not in good conscience tell you to blow the best part of a $20,  but as a $5 or less rental...yeah, break out the popcorn and turn on the surround sound.   

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