RoboCop

"Extraordinary"

RoboCop Review


RoboCop was released in 1987, and it's the sort of film that looks like it was made by somebody who knew America only from what he read in newspapers. Which may be close to the truth; Dutch director Paul Verhoeven had been living in the U.S. for less than a decade when he made this, his first big-budget Hollywood film. The script gleefully takes on every myth told about the U.S. during the Reagan '80s: Cities are dens of evil and full of constant gunplay, authority has been brought to heel by capitalism, technology has crushed our humanity to atoms, the media destroys the morals of children. RoboCop plays all of this out as a bloody farce - it's both funny and violent as hell -- but it also knows that there are kernels of truth in all those statements. Great science fiction sheds light on the real world by recreating it radically, and RoboCop is great science fiction - it's one of the best dystopian fantasies about America put to film.

The place is Detroit, the time sometime in the near future. The part of the city known as "Old Detroit" is a cesspool of grime, slums, and toxic sludge; "New Detroit" is an empty promise of a shining new city that we see only on billboards. The police force is privatized, and one of its officers, Alex J. Murphy (Peter Weller) is grotesquely wounded during a fight with a gang. OCP, the company running the force, has had back luck creating a purely mechanical cop. So it claims Murphy's nearly-dead body and transforms it into a man-machine hybrid that's programmed to perform police work ethically. On his first night on the beat, he stops a rape in progress, shooting the rapist in the crotch and telling the woman in a chill monotone: "You have suffered an emotional shock. I will notify a rape crisis center."

That's good for a chuckle, but it has some postmodern underpinnings. The idea is that in a techno-capitalist world, acting like a decent human being means mechanizing whole chunks of yourself and shutting off your emotional despair - one of the faux commercial breaks shows a family chuckling as they play "Nukem," a version of Battleship with nuclear weapons. It's also a world where money trumps morals. OCP chief Dick Jones (a perfectly cast Ronny Cox) is a stiff and greedy lion drunk on his own power, and the slum denizens are constantly repeating the punch line from a bawdy TV show: "I'll buy that for a dollar!"

Neither Verhoeven nor screenwriters Michael Miner and Edward Neumeier are particularly didactic in their social commentary; mainly, they wanted to make a movie that looked and felt as cool as Blade Runner, but with some more verisimilitude and a few laughs. Blood, too; RoboCop was remarkably violent for its time, though today it's pretty much on a par with most sci-fi films. What endures, though, is the film's ability to show what makes us human in an inhumane world. Though Weller doesn't get to express much between his exoskeleton and vocal drone, he's a great placeholder for a story about how humanity strives to do the right thing and be its most human against all odds. Paul Verhoeven never made a better film after that, opting for profit-taking fare like Basic Instinct and Showgirls. He forgot the moral lessons he put forth in RoboCop. He became an American filmmaker.

The new RoboCop box set offers all three films with copious extras. The original is an extended version of the film (you won't notice any extra scenes), plus a commentary track, deleted scenes, and several making of featurettes. The sequels get less attention (and rightly so), but it's still an awfully nice collection of DVDs, packaged in a nifty multi-folded box. I'd buy that for a dollar!



RoboCop

Facts and Figures

Run time: 102 mins

In Theaters: Friday 17th July 1987

Box Office Worldwide: $239.4M

Budget: $120M

Distributed by: Orion Pictures Corporation

Production compaines: Strike Entertainment, Columbia Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 51 Rotten: 7

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as RoboCop, as Norton, as Raymond Sellars, as Ellen Murphy, as Maddox, as Jack Lewis, as Liz Kline, as Pope, as Karen Dean, Samuel L. Jackson as Pat Novak, as Kim, as Mayor Durant, John Paul Ruttan as David Murphy, Patrick Garrow as Antoine Vallon, K. C. Collins as Andre Daniels, WBBrown II as AC Freeman

Contactmusic


Links


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.