The Action: Blood vs. Drone
Here is where it’s definitely obvious how important the film’s rating was. Had this been a question of which film had the better approach to violence, and which one was more suited for philosophical conversation, I’d go with the modern version. But if we’re just talking straight-up action, there is no contest. It’s almost unfair, as Verhoeven’s RoboCop is widely considered one of the most violent action movies ever, but action films have largely traded in buckets of blood for choreographed combat and giant explosions, and Padilha directed two of the most action-packed films of the last decade: 2007’s Elite Squad and its 2010 sequel Elite Squad: The Enemy Within.
So it’s fine that Kinnaman’s Alex Murphy didn’t magically arrive at the scene of a gas station gas burglary, and that no toxic waste was used in the remake. But the action scenes are spaced out so far apart, and often just contain RoboCop shooting tasers at humans and bullets at other robots. Plus, most of the gunplay scenes look as if the camera was being operated by a washing machine agitator.
The Winner: Blood! Rated R! Gore!
No film needs to be as violent as the original RoboCop, but no film should be as neutered as the Hallmark Channel edit of the original RoboCop.
The Final Winner: The Original
I really wish I’d felt more enthused by Padilha’s film, which was a fairly strong start for sci-fi 2014, but in trying to make their lead character more human, just about everything else was sacrificed. I recommend seeing it at some point in your life, but never while Verhoeven’s film is playing on cable, or is in a DVD case somewhere in your house.