Okay, so I might not be the only person on the internet who loves the RoboCop remake, but I feel like I might as well be since I don't think I've ever talked to a single person who has earnestly enjoyed this movie. Not a single one! Now, keep in mind that I have a lot of controversial opinions. Like, for example, I think Waterworld is awesome. I also prefer the 1998 Godzilla movie to the MonsterVerse Godzilla movies. So, yeah. My opinions on film often go against the norm.
But still! I think the RoboCop remake needlessly got a bad rap! Like, do I think there needs to be a Halloween-esque style new RoboCop movie that pretends like the original RoboCop sequels and the RoboCop remake don't even exist? No! In fact, I think it's a little insulting that instead of giving us what we (okay, maybe just me) really want — a RoboCop vs. Terminator crossover — we're instead getting a new RoboCop movie when we already had a new RoboCop movie in 2014, and it was actually pretty good. Don't believe me? Well, I have five reasons, and dead or alive, you're going to find out why.
It Feels Modern, And Not Just Like A Retread Of The Original
Now, I know I said I don't know anybody who liked the 2014 remake, but upon its release, I would say that it received a more mixed response than one that was outright terrible. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 48% from critics. Sure, that's considered "rotten" and the audience score wasn't much better. But, it seems that a key complaint was that the remake wasn't as good as the original, therefore, making it seem unnecessary. But, of course it wasn't as good as the original! RoboCop is probably the best Paul Verhoeven movie of all time.
But, here's the thing. Unlike the abysmal Total Recall remake, which just felt like a lesser version of the original, Robocop 2014 actually feels unique and different. Set in the very-near future of 2028, this version is about drone warfare, which, with the movie coming out during the Obama Administration, seemed like a pretty damning indictment against Obama's usage of drones overseas.
In this film, directed by Brazilian filmmaker Jose Padilha, OmniCorp has been profitable with their drones in war zones, but because of a national law, they're not allowed to use their weaponry in America. Through some sneaky thinking, they have decided that the best way to get their drones into the U.S. is if they stick their technology in an actual human being — a RoboCop if you will. And man, I love that angle! The original was about privatizing the police force, which is still relevant today, but this movie hits closer to home with the militarization of the police, so it's super potent. Great stuff.
Joel Kinnaman Is A Great Actor, And Maybe Even Better Than Peter Weller In The Role
I mean no disrespect to Peter Weller with this section. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension is one of my favorite movies of all time, and when we're talking about the best David Cronenberg movies, Naked Lunch is definitely in my top ten. Not only that, but I also love Peter Weller in the original RoboCop. He handles being Officer Murphy just as well as he handles being RoboCop, always keeping the human in the performance.
But...I think Joel Kinnaman's performance is superior. It's the way you feel like something is always simmering beneath the surface with him, even when he's still Officer Murphy. This doesn't feel like some hotshot police officer who twirls his gun like it's the wild west (Don't get me wrong! I love that, too!). This is a man who is essentially a soldier on the streets. And when Kinnaman wakes up to see that his body is almost completely destroyed, the pain he emotes is palpable. He'd rather be euthanized than to just be a head and a hand. I LOVE Weller as RoboCop (I mean, he IS RoboCop to me), but I think Kinnaman's performance is better, given the material at hand.
It Lacks The Social Satire Of The Original, But Still Doesn't Feel Bland Or Pointless
As mentioned earlier, I think a lot of people look back negatively upon the 2014 RoboCop because it's not an improvement upon the original, but honestly, how can you improve upon perfection? The original is engaging, exciting, and most importantly, satirical, and that's something that everybody who watches it with tell you. It's actually pretty funny. I mean, I regularly shout, "I'll buy that for a dollar!" and then toss my head back laughing, and those who know, know. Those who don't think I'm a lunatic. It's a small price to pay, if you ask me.
But, the remake isn't funny. It's actually almost humorless. That said, it's a different experience altogether. It doesn't aim to be satirical or funny. Its story is about how the police force of our time is losing its sense of empathy, almost to the point where it becomes dehumanized. It's also a story about PTSD, which resonated when the film was released, because our country was coming out of back-to-back wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So, is 2014's RoboCop funny? No, but that doesn't mean it's worthless. It just means that it's different, and I love it for being different. It definitely deserves to exist!
I Think RoboCop Looks Badass In His New Suit
One thing I usually despise with remakes is when they try to update them to suit modern times. When the X-Men first came to the big screen, they lacked the loud color-schemes of their comic book counterparts, and were instead all dressed in bland black leather, because The Matrix was all the rage back then. Yawn. So, with that said, you might think that I would hate what they did by ditching RoboCop's old gray metal suit for an all black one, but no, I actually love it. I think it looks badass.
It might be because I think it fits in with the plot. We actually do get to see RoboCop's original suit in this movie, but Michael Keaton's character (who I'll get to shortly) says that he wants the suit to be more "tactical" and for it to look sleek. This works into the story, because OmniCorp is trying to sell this new cyborg to the public, and I think that if a company was to create a cyborg police force, they would want it to look appealing to the general public, almost like a new car. Well, the RoboCop in this movie is that "new car," so changing his appearance works. And, as I said earlier, I think it looks really cool. I approve!
Michael Keaton Always Plays The Best Villains
Lastly, I love Michael Keaton in pretty much everything he does. I mean, I've watched him in movies nearly my entire life, starting with Batman and Beetlejuice, and then moving on to his later movies like Birdman, The Founder, and Spotlight. But, it wasn't until 2014's RoboCop, and then later seeing Michael Keaton in Spider-Man: Homecoming that I realized that I like Michael Keaton best as a villain.
It's because he's so nuanced as an actor. Keaton plays the CEO of OmniCorp, and he's not over-the-top like Dick Jones or dry like the Old Man in the original movie. No, he's somebody who sees profit over people and really has no care in the world for whether RoboCop is dangerous or not. His mind is already in the Bahamas when he gives the okay to create RoboCop, and he's staring at dollar signs the entire time.
That said, he's also the kind of guy who would take a man's wife and son hostage, and then taunt that man for being more robot than man. A lot of people don't think that this movie does enough to be noteworthy compared to the original, but it has Michael Keaton as a villain. What more could you possibly want?
Have I convinced you? For more sci-fi news, make sure to swing by here often.
Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.
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