The 1987 movie RoboCop was a surprise hit. It generally received positive reviews, was the 16th most successful film that year and is continually listed on many “best movies” lists including the American Film Institute, the New York Times and Entertainment Weekly. It was so popular that two sequels and two TV shows were spun off from it. Still, the overall quality of the film is rather cheesy, making the movie hard to take seriously.
Now, theater-goers can experience an all new RoboCop that is a lot classier to look at, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. The storyline is basically the same and it is still hard to swallow, but if you can overlook the basic premise, you will find yourself enjoying the flick. The special effects are so much better than the original, and this version even shows a little heart, believe it or not. Science fiction is hard to get right for the screen, but this RoboCop does a good job of taking a crazy storyline and allowing you to wonder “what it” for about an hour and a half.
It is the year of 2028 and OminCorp, a huge robot technology company, is in the business of creating security machines to roam around neighborhoods and cities in just about every country except for the United States. CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) promotes the company’s good works through a sensational TV show hosted by Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson), a loud, in-your-face interviewer. (Jackson’s role here is so over the top that it helps the viewer to stay grounded.) Still, the general public is not keen of the idea of robots running amuck in their cities. They want something that actually has a conscience. Enter Officer Murphy.
Officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is a risk-taking cop who takes a bite out of crime, but it is a bit more than he can chew. He is attacked and critically injured. He would have surely died if not for the help of Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman), who has used the area of robotics to help patients who have lost their limbs. With permission from Murphy’s wife, he becomes a “RoboCop,” who is actually more machine than man. Unlike the previous film, Officer Murphy is well aware of his wife and son and questions what would be best for them as well. While never referred to as “RoboCop,” Murphy becomes Omincorp’s latest company addition and uses him to get America to finally warm up to the idea of robotics.
RoboCop raises many questions about man’s fascination with playing God. On one hand, God has given man brains and skills to create medicines and machines to fight viruses and protect people, but how much is too much? In this movie, the new RoboCop doesn’t have complete control of his “body,” but rather a “perceived free will.” He can be shut down at any time from those in the home office. With technology, just because we can, doesn’t always mean that we should.
Critics’ reception of 2014’s version of RoboCop is just “so so,” with the major complaint that while it is a good movie, it isn’t a great improvement over the original, but I beg to differ. In fact, it’s a pretty vast improvement to the 80s version, and both the plot and cinematography of the new film make it both thought provoking and fun to watch.
RoboCop stars Joel Kinnaman (TV’s The Killing, Safe House), Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight Rises, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Micheal Keaton (The Other Guys, Mr. Mom), Abbie Cornish (Klondike TV mini-series), and Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers, Snakes on a Plane). It is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action including frenetic gun violence throughout, brief strong language, sensuality and some drug material. This movie could be used as a great discussion starter with your older teen.