Helen and I finally got an afternoon / evening together and figured, what the Hell, it's time to hit that precarious reboot slot called Robocop.
Now, for the record, I did like the original - I've always like Paul Verhoven's style, his portrayal of the media, his overzealous gore and, ultimately, the viciousness of his characters. The Robocop of old, starring Peter Weller, had all of that in abundance and, in my opinion, conveyed the points better than the likes of Starship Troopers. There's still no replacement for the scene in the original whereby a smouldering, half dead villain, grotesquely mauled by the chemicals that have recently consumed him, staggers out in to the alley ways around the abandoned factory and is turned in to salsa as a car simply goes through him like a hammer hits a (red) water balloon.
But they had to do something different this time. Ultimately, as good as the original was, the climate is different, the audiences have changed and the FX are so much better.
The new Alex Murphy is alright - he's quite likable, especially when Joel Kinnaman finally shrugs off those pesky Human morals and starts wailing on the punishment.
Having said that, punishment is a bit of an odd one in this: the majority of the kills in the original movie were people who bleed, scream and thrash about in agony. Not this time. The majority of the kills are drones, robots and ED 209s to begin with, but as the story unfolds suddenly the 'Justice For All' motif starts to shine through. And suddenly people are shot unceremoniously in teh face with high caliber rounds... but still no shower of blood. No visceral splatterings, no bullet riddled corpses being hurled out of 80th storey windows and no mutated pinata drive-bys.
Am I disappointed by that... actually, no, I'm not.
In fact, I much prefer the idea that RoboCop is more the police officer than the killing machine - combat synthetics not-withstanding, but this was upposed to be a story about an investigation and not about endless show-boating with big guns.
Some folks were put out by the way that Murphy becomes RoboCop. That he should have survived being shot with over dozen shotgun shells from multiple angles (removing his hand and arm and effectively eviscerating his abdomen and upper torso. The car bomb in the reboot worked for me. Legit, moderately effective, gave a nice angle for the family story and explained why they had to remove his legs, skeleton, stomach and... well... everything else.
Ad here lies the most valuable scenes for the new movie: the inclusion of the fmaily - the anchor for Murphy's humanity. The investigation in to his own attempted murder - the anger that allows him to re-write some of the programming. And last, but by no means least, the final confrontations - and with a supporting cast that really seemed to believe in what they were selling us.
Gary Oldman does not pick a bad movie. Samual L Jackson plays roles he knows he's going to enjoy. Kevin Costner, when not working on his own movies or getting crap scripts like that in Superman: Man of CGI, gets to play a villain which is a role he can play PERFECTLY. As the fiendish CEO of Omnicorp Costner is alight with enthusiasm, treachery and malice. His greed is sublime to watch as it oozes out of every pore.
Additionally, the original never suggested that RoboCop was invulnerable, but he was slower than a slug through treacle. Seriously, even Stormtroopers could hit him (given enough time). But in this, they've made it clear that while smallarms will just annoy him, high caliber rounds can be quite serious and if any of the organs that are left of Murphy are damaged, he could well be dead before he knows what's hit him. .50 cal or above is the mandate - don't succumb to snipers et al.
So they made him considerably more agile. I can cope with that. It was about time. Plus, adding the ability to jump greater distances, enhanced strength and better accuracy made it a more plausible combat cyborg for the audience.
But this was a human story - it was about waking up after your body has been ruined. It was about trying to reconnect with a family who, to all intents and purposes, believed you could already be dead and the machine is just offering false hope. It covers a few topics with some superb actors really showing us that no matter how cheesy a script can be (and BOTH RoboCops are as cheesy as it gets) it can be pulled off with dignity.
In short, with regards to the new RoboCop, 'I'd buy that for a dollar!'