The original Robocop is one of the great 1980s action movies. The remake from a couple years back will not be looked back on as one of the great action movies of the 2010s. Paul Verhoeven understands exactly why this is. The director of the original film thinks they took the premise far too seriously and removed all of Verhoeven's trademark satire, which just made the movie a little too heavy for audiences to deal with.
Especially in Robocop when he awakens they gave him the same brain. He's a horribly injured and amputated victim, which is horrifying and tragic from the very beginning. So we didn't do that in Robocop. His brain is gone and he has only flashes of memory and needs to go to a computer to find out who he even is. I think by not having a robot brain, you make the movie much heavier and I don't think that helps the movie in anyway. It becomes more silly or absurd, but in the wrong way. Both those movies needed the distance of satire or comedy to situate it for audiences. Playing it straight without any humour is a problem and not an improvement.
The other movie that Paul Verhoeven is referring to in his comments to Collider is Total Recall another film that was remade, and played completely straight, that failed to resonate with audiences at all. Verhoeven admits that his films are often somewhat absurd. The thing is, that they are intentionally so. Satire is a big part of what Verhoeven does, however, when a new team comes along to remake the story, they see that absurdity as a problem and remove it in order to make the film more serious. The director feels that the comedy aspect is important as it gives the audience a necessary distance between them and the material. By removing it, the film becomes too much.
In Paul Verhoeven's original, Robocop does not know that he's actually Alex Murphy. Him gaining this knowledge is a major part of the film. In the remake, they save his brain and so the character knows who he is and what has happened to him. It may help the audience relate to the character in some way. However, it completely changes the overall tone of the film.
There seems to be a feeling among many in Hollywood that you can't make a movie that's dark, or deals with serious ideas, if that movie is also is funny. That the audience can't take a movie seriously if the film doesn't take itself seriously. It's clear that Paul Verhoeven doesn't agree with this sentiment, and based on the success that his films have had, and the remakes failures in that regard, he may be on to something.
How do you think the Robocop remake compares to the original. Let us know in the comments below.