The RoboCop reboot has been one of the more maligned examples in the already detested field of reboots. Honestly, the flick hasn’t been able to catch a break at all so far. First everyone was screaming about rebooting Paul Verhoeven’s brilliant original in the first place. Then the script got leaked and torn to shreds on the Internet. There were rumors that reboot director was José Padilha was miserable on the shoot. The first looks at the redesigned suit earned jeers and sneers from long-time fans. The movie got pushed back to 2014. Hell, even the recent Comic-Con panel didn’t earn the new RoboCop movie any love. But now, finally, the first trailer is here, and we can get an honest first impression.
My first impression? Well, it doesn’t look terrible, but it doesn’t look amazing either. There are a few things that stand out, however. First, Padilha has said in interviews that this new take on RoboCop would play off modern concerns about drone strikes and autonomous robots. The very first shot in the trailer is focusing on unmanned aerial drones, so it’s clear that theme will indeed be at the heart of the new RoboCop. The new suit looks good even if you don’t like the black paint job, and it looks like Padilha will deliver on the action front.
I’m glad that they’re switching up how Murphy (this time played by The Killing’s Joel Kinnaman) ends up at death’s door. The over-the-top violence of the original Alex Murphy’s near-death was very, very Verhoeven, so they’re definitely smart for not trying to outdo the original on that front. Kinnaman’s performance as Murphy also looks to be very different from the original version. Peter Weller’s RoboCop was very cold, emotionless, and mechanical at first, only regaining his humanity and emotions as the movie progressed. Here we’re shown Murphy seemingly right as he wakes up and realizes what’s been done with him…and he’s pissed. Notions of RoboCop’s autonomy and free will — or lack thereof — are obviously central to the movie’s storyline, so it’s an interesting choice to have Murphy still seemingly himself in spite of his transformation. Again, it’s a very different approach, but if you have to remake RoboCop, you’d damn well better figure out your own new way to approach the material. Whether it proves successful remains to be seen.
It’s also worth noting that early rumors that we’ll see multiple versions of the RoboCop suit seem to be proven true by this trailer. The initial suit Murphy wakes up in looks very similar to the original Peter Weller version. He’s later given the paint job to become the black version that first leaked all those months ago. There’s no telling if those are the only two iterations of the cyborg that we see, but the silver version may help placate some of the fans who hated the black version.
Finally, this trailer takes itself very seriously, without any hint of the dark humor of the original. That humor was a crucial part of why the original worked so well, at least in the hands of a visionary director like Verhoeven. Trying not to go in that direction will certainly help the new RoboCop distinguish itself from the original, but then again, we’ve already seen a dire lesson in what happens when you take a goofy Verhoeven science fiction movie and take it far too seriously…
RoboCop is set to arrive on February 7, 2014. Dead or alive, it is coming to theaters. You can check out the first officially released stills from the film below.