Movie Review: RoboCop (2014 remake)

RoboCop 2014 remake still - Joel Kinnaman as Alex Murphy

This new RoboCop is good enough to serve as a proposal with suggestions for an even better remake


Released in Asia 2 whole weeks before the States, I actually thought that it was definitely going to fulfill its prophecy and just suck really bad, but as much as I would love to say "nothing beats the original", I have to admit that it isn't that far away from being comparable to the 1987 classic. A reboot was necessary (thanks to the useless sequels and spinoffs), and this remake shows promise and have set itself for possible sequels. It's just unfortunate that it isn't impactful enough to replace the original RoboCop. They should've taken the script (by Joshua Zetumer) and make a brand new title with a more influential star to play the titular protagonist.

Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman), an incorruptible police officer, is turned into part man, part machine law enforcer after being almost killed by a car-bomb set up by the powerful and dangerous thugs he's on to. The general plot may seem the same but there are actually drastic alterations to the story (Detroit is not even in a dystopian state like in the original) with a new set of characters. Basically, only the name of the hero is kept. RoboCop's original trusty female police partner Anne Lewis is renewed into a black male character named Jack Lewis (Michael K. Williams), and the importance of the role is significantly reduced. The main antagonist of the original, Clarence Boddicker, is replaced by Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow), who doesn't really do much other than corrupting the police and dealing weapons illegally.

Before RoboCop loses control going around solving his own murder like Harvey Dent/Two-Face (Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight), more time is spent focusing on the development of Murphy's cyborg body and the relationship with his family, and the reason there's that is because in this adaptation, Alex Murphy doesn't tragically die like in the original. The script is tightly written with everything justifiable and seemingly logical. I can't even recall any flaws in the plot that's worth mentioning. In that sense, the changes of the story have sort of improved or moved away from the original, but whether or not if all was necessary is another question. Despite successfully conveying the ultimate need for human conscience and having its own political satires, the other themes in the original were either not as brilliantly explored, or just completely excluded. For instance, instead of ridiculing the media with news and commercials, the film has Samuel L. Jackson as an eccentric host of a talkshow.

RoboCop 2014 stills - Samuel L. Jackson meme

This remake may not be as dark, violent or gruesome as the original (damn you again, PG-13!) nor does it even have any shock value, but the non-corny and uncheesy direction of Jose Padilha is highly plausible. The action sequences, however, lacked creativity. Although the gun battles are indeed cooler and more entertaining than the original, with higher death toll and better visual effects, they're quite ordinary and in some scenes, shaky.

I won't compare Joel Kinnaman's decent performance to Peter Weller's (the actor who played the original RoboCop) since this remake's version of the titular cyborg law enforcer is very much different. As mentioned above, this Alex Murphy doesn't die at all. Most of his head and brain is intact with his heart and lungs still pumping with the help of the suit (Darth Vader anyone?). Although it doesn't show in the film, his real right hand is kept to allow him to touch and feel. So yeah, he's pretty much alive. But that's not all, the personality and attitude of the character are also altered, which makes him more emotional but also less righteous and not very likable. This new RoboCop's body is more agile and flexible than the original, making it an easier acting task for Kinnaman. Above it all, his wife (Abbie Cornish) and son know that he's still alive and are waiting for him to come back, eliminating my sympathy for the character. In the original, nobody sees RoboCop as Murphy or a human other than Lewis and his family have moved on after his funeral. Unlike this new RoboCop, he's a role model, a symbol of justice and a real tragic hero, it engages the audience to stand behind him.

The new slim, black, "more tactical" RoboCop costume was initially panned on social media, with some even calling it a cheap ripoff of Batman, Kamen Rider, Gantz, black Iron Man, etc., but old fans might be pleased with the ending where [SPOILER ALERT] the original silver "Detroit steel" is reinstated to the new RoboCop (fan servicing perhaps?) [SPOILER ENDS].



What I would've named the film: "RoboCop v2.0"

Censorship in Malaysia: Only a love scene is noticeably cut off (damn it!). Again, it's PG-13, folks, so there wasn't going to be much to censor anyway.

Second opinion: My girlfriend thought it was not bad but she doesn't remember if she watched original film.

Verdict: Surprisingly better than expected. Entertaining but incapable of replacing the original RoboCop.

Rating: 3 / 5

RoboCop 2014 remake movie poster keyart malaysia releaseBased on: 1987 film "RoboCop"
Rated: P13
Genre: Science Fiction, Action
Running Time: 120 minutes
Director: José Padilha
Screenplay by: Joshua Zetumer
Cast: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson, Abbie Cornish, Michael Keaton, Jay Baruchel

Synopsis: In a crime-ridden city, Alex Murphy, a fatally wounded cop returns to the police squad as a powerful cyborg named RoboCop with submerged memories haunting him. Apart from being controlled by corporate interests, Murphy has to deal with his personal conflicts on being transformed into a machine hybrid from a human before hunting down the evil forces.

Malaysia Release Date: January 30th 2014
Local Distributor: Sony Pictures Releasing International
Studio(s): Strike Entertainment



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4 comments:
  1. I was expecting it to be a train wreck as well, but it was surprisingly quite good (the fact that I barely yawned during the movie is my personal testament). For someone who have not watched Robocop, or watched the original but forgotten most of its story line, should give this movie a go :)

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  2. It was okay for me. I think it might actually be good - it's just that my judgement may be biased and clouded by my preference of the hero. Personally i have never really liked RoboCop because the hero is too tragic. he lost his family, his body, his life, his everything. And when he's supposed to die, he couldn't die coz someone made him into a robot - to forever work and fight. I would have rather died than be saved and turned into that thing. And also, the armor is damn noisy! lol.

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  3. Surely the whole point is that its tragic lol

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  4. I thought this remake would suck. The trailers make it look sucky and your review slashed any last bit of hope I had for this film not sucking. I see most of the changes you described as negative. Particularly absent from the trailers are the satirical media and newscasts which gave the original something deeper to think about gave it a counter cutlure intellectual feel.. The original really gave you a since of empathy and his partner was an important part of the story. Also all that " I'll buy that for a dollar " stuff really left you feeling the author was predicting the most base, even moronic acceleration of our consumer society and the destruction of Detroit(all but realized) I'll still go see it. Sounds like they really butchered a classic

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