As the RoboCop remake terrorises cinema-goers, we take a look back at the 1987 original.
RoboCop is set in a corporate-run dystopia called America. When a Detroit police officer named Murphy (Peter Weller) is killed by a criminal gang, the mega-corporation now running the police force, Omni Consumer Products, reanimate him as a robot, who’s also a cop. A robot cop, if you will.
A true cult-classic, RoboCop ticks all the boxes. Prescient satire, big explosions, smart sci-fi, great gags and more explosions. It earns its place at the heart of the golden era of action cinema, a time when exciting popcorn movies and clever satirical movies were the same movies. Paul Verhoeven brings that unique combination of comedy, ultra-violence and political subtext, to make RoboCop a film that can be enjoyed on an impressive number of levels. Come for the wacky B-movie, stay for the intelligent substance.
Peter Weller makes a powerful and sympathetic RoboCop, by no means an easy feat given the limits of movement and expression imposed by the fact that he’s a robot. Miguel Ferrer is brilliantly odious as Bob Morton, looking suspiciously like Tony Blair. Kurtwood Smith and Ray Wise are very nasty criminals, putting two of TV’s greatest dads in the same gang.
The special effects still look great, with budgetary hurdles overcome by sheer creativity. Most memorable is of course ED-209, an ingenious creation whose combination of silly slapstick and brutal satire is wonderfully realised through stop-motion animation, which blends seamlessly with the live action. They really don’t make ’em like this anymore. No doubt the remake looks super slick, but with CGI replacing such inventive filmmaking, what’s the point?
RoboCop is one of those action/sci-fi films that has everything you could ever want from a movie. It’s both highly stimulating and very funny, like midget porn (see Alex, told you I’d get it in). As if to cement the irony of cynically remaking a film whose main target is corporations in blinkered pursuit of profit, the remake is certified a market-friendly 12A. What the hell would a 12A RoboCop look like?