SPOILERS FOR ROBOCOP BELOW
Now that Jose Padilha’s RoboCop remake is in theaters, our worst fears are now behind us. The movie is not terrible, but it’s not good either. While that seems like faint praise, there are a few notable things about the new remake that’s different from the original 1987 film, namely when it comes to the Cronenberg-esque mad-scientist freak-show midway through the movie.
In an interview with FilmSketchr, concept artist Igor Knezevic talked about what went into making that horrifying scene a reality. If you’ve seen the new remake then you know there’s at least one scene that could have warranted a rated “R” from the MPAA. It involves Murphy wanting to see his body under the metallic suit. Due to his injuries, scientists could only keep Murphy’s face, brain, lungs, and right hand alive, and we get to see all of those body parts on display. According to Knezevic, this scene was the most difficult to conceptualize. He explained:
Surely this “assembly” lab contraption was the big one. As I worked on it, I immediately started doing previs of how it could move so that body parts can be detached and cleared away without hitting each other. I knew that the prop will be actually made for real via CNC machining and then augmented in CGI – so there needed to be a degree of reality to it. It wasn’t pure a CG thing. So I worked in 3D from the start.
It’s truly a bizarre scene that almost makes the movie worth watching. Just the idea of a man being kept alive in a sort of formaldehyde jar is haunting. However, much like the rest of the remake, the idea is introduced, but never explored to any meaningful degree. It’s one of the more frustrating things about the new RoboCop. Padilha is a good director and it’s clear that there was just so much studio interference and control that it was impossible to salvage something more interesting and less conventional. Check out the concept art below.
It’s clear that the film was made with an international box office in mind, but it was so sanitized and neutered that it never resonated with American audiences in any meaningful way. Now that Hollywood has effectively water-down two Paul Verhoeven science fiction movies, it’s time to see what they can do with the Starship Troopers remake. Something tells me they’re going to go three-for-three.
If you liked Knezevic work on RoboCop, then you should look forward to his work as a costume designer on the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending. He also did some work on the new Terminator: Genesis reboot for director Alan Taylor.