RoboCop Movie Review
Another 80's classic gets remade and, amazingly, somehow, it's not a disaster. RoboCop reinvents the hybrid character for modern day, shifting the satire from corporate greed to national security (and corporate greed) and granting Alex Murphy more depth and a bigger back story. None of those elements make the movie better than the Paul Verhoeven original, but they help this new RoboCop be more than the empty shell most pundits were expecting.
RoboCop succeeds due to some slick directing by Jose Padilha (Elite Squad) and a better-than-expected script by writer Joshua Zetumer. It's by no means a perfect movie, but it's entertaining, and that's really all you can ask for. After suffering through a variety of mediocre 80's remakes over the last several years (Total Recall, looking at you), RoboCop is refreshingly enjoyable to watch.
That doesn't mean it isn't without its flaws.
RoboCop takes a long time to get going. In typical 21st century remake fashion, Padilha dives into Alex Murphy's back story, develops the relationship with his wife (Abbie Cornish) and son and shows the man's transition into the title character. None of the first half is poorly done - Gary Oldman shines as the scientist responsible, and scene by scene the movie works - but after a while, you just want the theme music to play and for Murphy to hit the streets of Detroit.
The movie dwells too long on Murphy's family, too little on the relationship with his partner (Lewis is now a guy) and lacks the really big, memorable action sequence that could set it apart. It is also isn't as fun as the old movies - the cheese factor is understandably missing, but there are enough goofy elements (highlighted by a satisfyingly silly Samuel l. Jackson) to suggest that Padilha intended RoboCop to be sharper and/or funnier than the final product actually is.
Nonetheless, once Murphy returns to Detroit, RoboCop picks up the pace and delivers some mildly entertaining action. There's nothing particularly clever or original about the story (or action), but the filmmakers do a surprisingly good job of paying respect to the original while updating certain elements.
RoboCop lacks the edginess of the originals, but the filmmakers do a fine job updating an 80's hero for the 21st century. The movie is far from perfect, the story somewhat generic, but RoboCop is an entertaining remake nonetheless.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.