RoboCop And Total Recall Director Gets Brutally Honest About Remakes

By Jason Collins | Published

Both the 1987 RoboCop and 1990’s Total Recall were massive hits that painted a clear picture of what we can expect from massive corporations and the technology of the future, and given the current advancements in technology and their misuse, these films were on the right track. Of course, movie studios and rights owners tried to remake these movies for modern audiences and bring them up to date with the trends of the 21st century. Not surprisingly, both remakes failed, and the director in charge of both original releases said a thing or two about the remakes.

The Narratives Strayed

Paul Verhoeven discussed both movies and the flaws he perceived in each of them. With RoboCop, the point Verhoeven made was that it was far too removed from the original movie, while all the subtleties and ambiguities of Total Recall were completely lost in the remake.

Both issues stem from the fact that the studios wanted to make these movies more appealing to the audiences by adjusting the narratives and storytelling in a way that increases the movies’ entertainment value, as opposed to addressing various themes tackled in the originals.

Less Connection To The Lead

Even Joel Kinnaman, who starred in the 2014 RoboCop remake, knew that his version of the character was far removed from the original iteration. Verhoeven argued that the remake lacks subtleties and nuances while also taking issue with the development of the protagonist.

According to the filmmaker, the beauty of the original character is that he’s not a tragic figure like his counterpart from the remake. Sure, he dies and returns as a robot and gets the bad guys just like a robot would, from a standpoint totally devoid of emotion. A similar was said for Total Recall.

Colin Farell In Place Of Arnold Schwarzenegger

While Verhoeven had no issues with the 2012 Total Recall protagonist and Colin Farell’s portrayal of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s role, he stated that all ambiguities in the remake were lost on account of pleasing the audiences.

For context, due to the series of events, the protagonist of the original movie questions which part of his life is real and which isn’t, and the layer of ambiguity plays well with that particular narrative. Having that layer stripped for the sake of visual effects and higher entertainment value subtracts from the remake significantly.

Will The Director Ever Return To The Franchises?

Both RoboCop and Total Recall were directed by Paul Verhoeven, who has stepped away from the sci-fi genre significantly in this century, considering that he only made one sci-fi movie in this century, among the plethora of releases he helmed. Still, the iconic director stated that he would return to big-budget sci-fi blockbusters if given a script as good as either the original RoboCop or the original Total Recall. However, considering that he’s 85, it’s highly unlikely for the director to return to the genre.

Revisit Verhoeven’s Classics

starship troopers reboot

This makes all of Paul Verhoeven’s previous sci-fi work, such as the original RoboCop, Total Recall, and the wildly underappreciated Starship Troopers, well worth revisiting. This is particularly true in the case of the latter, considering that the movie was critically re-evaluated, and it’s now considered one of the best sci-fi movies ever made. Not to mention the fact that it managed to spawn an entire multimedia franchise consisting of movies, games, and comic books.