February 7, 2016
Redux: RoboCop (1987).
Redux Review #002: RoboCop.
Peter Weller (Alex Murphy / RoboCop), Nancy Allen (Anne Lewis), Ronny Cox (OCP Senior President Dick Jones), Kurtwood Smith (Clarence Boddicker), Miguel Ferrer (OCP Executive Bob Morton), Dan O'Herlihy ("The Old Man"), Paul McCrane (Emil Antonowsky), Ray Wise (Leon Nash), Jesse D. Goins (Joe Cox), Calvin Jung (Steve Minh), Michael Gregory (Lt. Hedgecock), Robert DoQui (Sergeant Reed), and Felton Perry (OCP Executive Johnson) Directed by Paul Verhoeven.
Welcome to a Redux Review of the original RoboCop film, which is a revised review meant to say more about the movie as a whole. The rating will stay the same, but I feel that this Redux is necessary (which I could say for a good deal the original batch of reviews). Not to worry, there will be new reviews on the way, but I feel that the upcoming Redux Reviews are necessary to help better the evolution of Movie Night, and to help alleviate the unintentional month long hiatus. Enjoy.
Even after five years, the original RoboCop still manages to be more than just an action/sci-fi film and being more than the sum of its parts, with layers of satire and emotional depth to make for a compelling movie. The action and violence is certainly entertaining in that goes over-the-top intentionally with great results. I remember seeing the scene where Murphy gets gunned down when I was barely a teenager, and even five years later it still manages to leave an imprint on my mind because of its memorability and cold nature that fits with the tone of the movie. One effect that certainly still ranks high on the memorability scale is the toxic waste infested Emil, right down to the collision with a car. The effects also are pretty well done, and the fight between ED-209 and RoboCop is impressive, right down to the end result. The music by Basil Poledouris is brilliant, being both triumphant and emotionally reaching at the right times, using synthesizer and orchestral music very well, with the music at the climax of the move working just right.
Even ED-209 is a representation of something deeper, especially with the fact that despite not being able to tell when a gun hits the ground/climb stairs, there would be spare parts for 25 years, and it is especially striking that Jones did not care if it worked or not. The OCP structure is certainly interesting, with murders of employees (including a vice president) happening left and right (Johnson even gives a thumbs up after Jones dies), and the very fact that they intend to build a city of their own to build and run. The news broadcasts (which occur throughout the film) give us a glimpse into the outlook of Detroit (and the world) in general (I do love that the movie was filmed in Dallas, by the way). During a headline about cops being killed by Boddicker, the newscaster (played by Mario Machado) states a cheerful "Good luck Frank" to a cop critically wounded, with pretty much every headline (such as an accident that leads to the death of two former presidents) comes off as less grim than it probably should, which In any case, the interludes of newscasts/ads certainly add an edge to the movie (my favorites being the 6000 SUX one - the car with 8.2 miles per gallon and NUK EM, the board game with nuclear weapons - pure fun for the whole family), and I hadn't noticed the satire the first time I had watched this, and RoboCop certainly can be appreciated more
Weller and Allen have a good dynamic together, with my favorite scene being where RoboCop's face is revealed in full. The end of the scene where RoboCop can feel but not remember his son and wife and promptly wishes to be alone when Lewis tries to comfort him really makes for an interesting look into the lines of man and machine. Weller makes for an excellent lead because even though he spends a good deal of the movie in a suit (a very warm suit I might add), he still manages to give the character a certain depth and he makes for an excellent hero, even with all the stuff he goes through. Ronny Cox also makes for a compelling villain in that he doesn't at first seem to have ulterior motives...right up until he's upstaged by RoboCop, who he equates to a mistake. I love his exchange with Morton (which goes from what he used to call the Old Man to him pulling Morton's hair. Even before that exchange (occurring in a bathroom), you see his presence with regards to everyone else (save for Morton) leaving quickly. O'Herlihy doesn't have a lot of screen time, but he certainly makes his presence felt, even if we don't really learn much about him or his motives. One of my favorite quirks is that Jones regards to the death of an employee via the ED 209 as a "glitch", and the Old Man is more angry at the "temporary setback" that could cost OCP loads of money (in interest).
Last but not least, Kurtwood Smith does a wonderfully evil job of making Boddicker more than just a cop-killer. I like this one scene in which a standoff is occurring during a negotiation, and he just says "Oooh. Guns, guns, guns! C'mon, Sal! The Tigers are playing... *slaps table* ...tonight. I never miss a game." I love the manner in which he can just switch his tone, which is also evident later in that sequence, when RoboCop is "interrogating" him (by throwing him through a window). At first, he just spits blood at RoboCop, offhandedly insulting him...and then he gives up the name of the real power behind him. Even when bloodied up and being jailed, he still has his demeanor, right down to spitting blood on the papers. Smith may play a character with no values, but man is he fun to watch. The showdown at the end of the movie is riveting and perfectly well done with regards to Boddicker vs. RoboCop, and I love the final shot of Boddicker, rolling into the water, with the revenge subplot complete.
With regards to the movie, it still holds up for me, and I still love it after all these years, not just for its action+effects, but for the hidden depths of emotion & satire, with a good deal of humor to make for one of the best flicks I ever watched.
As for the sequels...oh boy. Next Time.
Overall, I give it 9 out of 10 stars.