The new RoboCop remake will hit theaters next week. The film was originally supposed to be released back in August 2013, but Sony decided to push the release date of Neill Blompkamp’s Elysium from March to August 2013 to capitalize on a bigger box office. In turn, Sony then moved RoboCop from August to February 2014. When the project was announced back in 2011, fans of RoboCop were worried that a Hollywood remake would merely be a watered-down version of the ultra-violent original from director Paul Verhoeven. Hollywood has a bad track record with lukewarm remakes of popular genre movies such as Total Recall, Straw Dogs, and The Thing, but now that Sony has screened the film early, it seems that film critics are divided on the new remake from Brazilian director José Padilha.
According to a few early reviews such as Guy Lodge from Variety, the remake goes in a different direction than the original and is a surprising upgrade from the original’s sequels.
Shifting the prime target of its satire from corporate greed to post-9/11 jingoism, this well-cast, smarter-than-expected remake repairs much of the damage done to the iron-fisted lawman’s reputation by meat-headed sequels and spinoffs; it’s a less playful enterprise than the original, but meets the era’s darker demands for action reboots with machine-tooled efficiency and a hint of soul.
Maybe we should follow his lead and compare the remake to the RoboCop sequels rather than the original film. Perhaps that’s a good way to “lower the bar” for Padilha’s newest film, as it’s virtually impossible for the remake to be better than or equal to Paul Verhoeven’s brilliant social satire from 1987. According to Ryan Lambie from Den of Geek, the film is trying to do something different, but in the end, the movie feels less than the sum of its parts.
Padilha displays much of the remarkable talent he brought to his Elite Squad films — and explores similar themes in RoboCop — but he’s let down in part by a script that never quite clicks into gear. Where Verhoeven’s film strode purposefully from Murphy’s brutal murder to his resurrection and subsequent vengeance, the new iteration — written by Joshua Zetumer — loses its way somewhere in the middle, fumbling with an unremarkable plot involving a gunrunner and several corrupt cops.
Lastly, Chris Tilly from IGN calls out the film’s lack of violence or urgency. To Tilly, the remake is indeed the watered-down version we feared, and is something akin to the remakes mentioned above. Tilly writes:
The real problem with this remake is its lack of big, brass, robo-balls…. Indeed thanks to the remake having a more family-friendly certificate (rating), the action often cuts away when violence strikes, leaving you unsure whether Robocop has killed, maimed, or just stunned.
Meanwhile, Cinefix has created “Movie Buzz,” a video and new drinking game for the original RoboCop. The drinking game is simple: take one drink anytime someone in the movie says the name “Murphy” or mentions “ED-209,” when a car bumper hits the pavement and sparks fly, if you see any drugs, or if there’s a fatality, or if RoboCop beats up a criminal, but doesn’t arrest them. Take two drinks when: there’s a flashback, RoboCop eats baby food, we see RoboCop’s point-of-view via “Robo-Vision,” or if a commercial or news break occurs. Take three drinks when you see Jesus imagery or someone says, “I’d Buy That for a Dollar!” And finally, finish your drink when someone gets their dick shot off. This drinking game seems fun! It’s designed to make you pass out drunk by the time the movie is over, so it’s okay in my book. Just remember to drink responsibly!
The RoboCop remake is set in the year 2028. OmniCorp, a huge multinational conglomerate, has become the worldwide leader of robotic and drone technology. After honest cop Alex Murphy is critically injured in a car-bomb attack, OmniCorp uses him as a test subject, turning him into the cyborg dubbed RoboCop.
RoboCop stars Joel Kinnaman, Abbie Cornish, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Jackie Earle Haley, Michael Kenneth Williams, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Miguel Ferrer, Jennifer Ehle, and Jay Baruchel. The remake hits theaters everywhere on February 12, in 3D and IMAX.