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In a word, Meh.
on 14 December 2014
I adored the original film, still do. So much of it was iconic, striking, visceral, humorous and memorable. Whereas the remake is forgettable, po-faced, ordinary and 'meh' in so many ways. The characters are meh, the action is meh, and the whole story feels diluted and muddled.
Why is it called RoboCop when Murphy is NOT the first robotic cop? The film begins with robotic law enforcers searching a street. In the original film Murphy's transformation was so incredibly striking because there was nothing else like him. But here, he is just another walking machine with a gun. Meh.
What happened to the music? Basil Poledouris' brilliant, chiming, orchestral/industrial score was perfect. Here it is relegated to the end of the end credits. RoboCop has a theme as much as James Bond has a theme. The new music is forgettable generic action fare. Meh.
There is no sense of Murphy cleaning up the streets, no sense of the streets even needing cleaning! Again, the original had 3 or 4 brilliant scenes of RoboCop actually being a cop. One of these featured him trying to arrest one of his killers who shouted 'I know you, we killed you!', prompting Murphy to regress and question who he was. It was simple, and combined action with emotion and story to brilliant effect. There is nothing like that here. Meh.
The characters are so wishy washy - no real 'bad guys' that the film so badly needs - so you've no real interest in seeing them dealt with. In the original film the bad guys are NASTY, they're a gang of real low-lifes, they laugh like hyenas as they shoot Murphy to shreds, you WANT to see him avenged. Here, he's the victim of a remote car bomb, and there's nothing like that same sense of vengeance. He annoyed some criminals and, Mafia style, they blew him up. Tch.
The emotion, little as there is, is all over the place. 'RoboCop gets a bit fraught, so Michael Keaton fiddles with his brain. Later on he recovers. And he gets a bit angry. The End.' There's absolutely no sense, like the original, of him going through the massive psychological trauma and craziness that would happen to someone in his situation. Meh.
The satire of the original was wonderful and funny. The TV adverts, the abhorrent sense of excess and capitalist greed, the contrast of futuristic shininess and industrial squalor. It all worked. Here, all you get is Sam Jackson's TV show.. is he right wing, left wing, what's his point, who really cares? Meh.
Even the tones/colour palette of the original film was better. I believe that was filmed in Dallas, doubling for Detroit? Here you have various nondescript bits of Canada doubling for Detroit, with washed out skies all feeling flat and geographically vague. The blue silver of his suit stood him apart from the brown industrial mud. Here, he is just another dark mechanical item in the world. He doesn't especially stand out. Meh.
The action scenes are 'meh'. Solid but nothing memorable, more like cut-scenes from an average computer game. The huge (and real) explosion at the petrol station from the original film was better than all the CGI here. Or the melty man... This has nothing as ingenious or visceral as that. Meh.
The only memorable moment was seeing him stripped of his suit, as a head and lungs. That was genuinely very well done. I'll give it two stars for that.
No spoilers but the ending in particular is a complete anti-climax. Compared to the iconic original - 'What's your name, son?' - this had nothing. And that wonderful, original twist of 'You're fired!'. This has none of that genius. Any idiot could've written this ending. Sooo disappointing. Meh.
Reading about the Director's experience of making this film explains a lot. He was forced to make it pg-13 rated, when he wanted it to be R rated. Apparently he also said it was 'the worst experience' of his life. That explains a lot.
Stick with the far superior original, which was absolutely packed with memorable moments and characters. This film felt like a TV movie to me - Diluted, bland, flat, forgettable and unnecessary.