Blogs 'N' Sods #13: Robocop 2014, Literally Rebooted (w/video)

originally posted 04 October 2014

Welcome to the first Blu-Ray/DVD review for Blogs ‘N” Sods.

Rebooting and old favorite seems to be more in vogue today than the endless sequels that pervaded the film landscape when the original Robocop (1987) was released.

The original, directed by Paul Verhoeven, was released when corporate greed was everywhere, as evidenced by the near collapse of the stock exchange that year and a wave of urban crime had reached its apex prior to gentrification and urban renewal. It was set in Detroit, then know as the murder capital of the U.S. Verhoeven’s plot points in all his films are very simple: people will do anything for money or power. Sex, violence, backstabbing and terror are all major themes.

José Padilha, in his first English-language film, takes a different approach. And truth be told, it needed it. Science and medicine are leaps and bounds what we knew in 1987. Robotics in humans are becoming more common, unmanned drones are now available for sale online and foreign policy drives domestic policy. Greed and power are still common themes, but instead of a bloodbath, Padilla decides to give his characters more warmth and focuses more on interpersonal relationships that in the original. It is almost as if Padilha’s film is closer to science fiction than Verhoeven’s science fantasy in hindsight.

 Basic plot points remain: company wants to expand its sales and an opportunity to make a cyborg policeman a reality comes to light. Named Robocop, he quickly fights crime, solves his own murder and goes after the corporate boogeyman. For those who lament over the reboot, get over it: the story is far from a Verhoeven original; it is the classic tale of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein for a new audience.

Overall, with the exception of Samuel Jackson’s Al Sharpton wig, there are no real standout performances. And that suits the film just fine. It really is about Robocop, but even the titular character is used in such a way that even he doesn’t steal the show. You end up wondering what he is going to do next less than what he is going to blow up. Both the blu-ray and DVD are crisp, the colors deep and rich, the sound is incredible and the audio is clear, especially concerning dialogue.

The real drag are the bonus features, which really are anything but. The DVD does not have some of the features of the blu-ray, but that is easily remedied: they are available as a stand-alone website, and you can link to it here.

I have to admit, I enjoyed this a lot more than other action films this year. Looking for 1970s nordic pop music in an action film? “Hocus Pocus” by Focus is used here during the training scene, and well. They are Danish. So now you know.

Love to you all.

Ben Bear

Clip courtesy of MGM/Fox.

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