I was fully expecting to watch the Robocop reboot next week. I was planning to take the day off from work, watch it and immediately do a review. To my surprise, it was released in my location today! So, even if I was tired from work, I just had to watch it on its first day of release.
It’s probably no secret that I’m a huge fan of the original trilogy (I have been rewatching the first, second and third films in preparation of this). Oddly enough, this made me incredibly wary of the 2014 reboot of the franchise. There was no way this would measure up to the 1987 film. Well, I was right: the new film isn’t as good. But, surprisingly, I would have to say the 2014 reboot is surprisingly good under its own merits!
Since most of the world has yet to see the film, this review will be extremely SPOILER-FREE. I’ll probably do another review with more detail next week. Heck, I won’t even give a summary of the plot for this review!
I guess I’ll address the thing that made me wary of the film in the first place. Being a reboot, there was no doubt there were going to be changes to the original’s overall story. And there were indeed a lot of changes. Most of the humor and satire the original Robocop movies had are practically gone. There aren’t any funny commercials, amusing news bulletins or people watching that “I’ll buy that for a dollar” rerun over and over again. While I do miss those elements, they did replace it with something more contemporary…
Enter Pat Novak, the host of The Novak Element, a talk show with extremely biased political views. It’s a pretty tall order to be the substitute of all of the news broadcasts and “world building” elements from the original. But The Novak Element does manage to succeed in doing this. His segments are extremely entertaining! Not only that, the show is used to tell the audience what’s happening in the world without being dry and boring.
Another high point of the new film is Michael Keaton as Raymond Sellars, CEO of OmniCorp. He’s essentially the present-day version of The Old Man. However, instead of just being business minded and wanting results from his subordinates, he’s more of a “big idea” kind of guy. He’s a bit of a narcissist… but an incredibly charismatic narcissist! I would have to say the acting of the other two big name actors, namely Gary Oldman and Jackie Earle Haley do a fine job in their roles. It’s just that their characters aren’t that interesting as Pat Novak and Sellars.
On the other hand, the acting for the other cast members are, well… let’s just say they’re not that good. They are passable performances but don’t achieve the heights of Samuel Jackson and Michael Keaton. I would have to blame the writing. It’s like the writers didn’t develop them fully like Pat Novak and Raymond Sellars.
I have to mention Robocop/Alex Murphy himself. While the overall plot generally revolves around him and how he adapts to becoming the cybernetic police officer we all know and love, I didn’t really care for him in the remake! I have to fault Joel Kinnaman, the man who portrayed the character. It’s hard to explain without going into spoiler territory. Let’s just say he managed to overact and underact at the same time.
The story is pretty good overall and does twist the original Robocop story in interesting ways. There are several major changes from the original story. Some changes I agree with and some I don’t. I can’t really say more without revealing significant points in the story. I will say, however, the number of “good changes” equals the number of “bad changes.”
Overall, though, the plot is pretty weak. It seemed to me like they just go from story point to story point without that much rhyme or reason. It’s just not tightly written and the entire third act just seems to come from nowhere!
The special effects are decent enough to fool you into thinking they’re real. It’s easy to believe that there are a bunch of ED-209’s walking around and shooting things up and people using floating user-interfaces because they are well done. However, the sound effects are kind of subdued. I don’t really recall hearing the whirring sounds when Robocop moves during the latter half of the film.
And the costume and prop designs are bad! Robocop’s armor looks like it’s made of some cheap plastic material. The “RoboCycle” that he uses looks like what a 9-year old would draw. It’s not awful but it certainly looks out of place in the film. Finally, the way they designed the ED-209 units is, how should I say this… it’s ugly! Aside from being big, it doesn’t look menacing!
While it may seem like I’m ragging on the film a lot, I enjoyed the film. It may be because I didn’t have high hopes for the film and it may have been a factor in making me like the film. I do say that, if you didn’t watch the movies from the 80’s and the 90’s, seeing this film is a good way to pass the time. It won’t have the same impact of the original trilogy but Robocop (2014) may make younger generations want to watch them.
Have you watched the Robocop reboot? Did you like it or not? Leave your thoughts on the film in the comments section below!