Starring: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O’Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith
Directed by: Paul Verhoeven
Written By: Edward Neumeier, Michael Miner
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 42 min
While set in the near future, Robocop is absolutely a product of the 80’s. A hilarious and uber-violent satire of America’s ‘bigger is better’ culture , corporate power, and militaristic jingoism. It paints its story in broad unrelenting strokes and a high bloody body count. At the same time however, it follows the title characters plight in a surprisingly careful and touching way.
Murphy (Peter Weller), is essentially resurrected into a robotic body. He’s a modern-day Frankenstein, but also a company product. He holds memories of a lost family. A wife, and a son, yet can’t understand what they mean to him. It’s all really effective stuff, yet also punctuated with moments of dark humor, and violence to the extreme. This is what I love about Paul Verhoeven films though. He’s not afraid to test an audiences precious sensibilities, and use violence as a means to tell a story.
Okay, I think I used the word violent (and variations) a lot already. So it should be pretty clear – Robocop is a viol….a savage movie (thank you thesaurus.com!) It was extreme back in the 80’s, and it’s still extreme today. On a couple of occasions people aren’t just shot, they are vaporized by bullets! It’s pretty potent stuff, so if you find that kind of thing obnoxious, you’ll have a hard time with Robocop. It’s not vicious for viciousness sake though, as the fierce brutality does serve the story. There are also plenty of layers to Robocop that can be discovered through repeat viewing.
I re-watched this with the unrated directors cut blu-ray, and I have to say I was a little disappointed. The directors cut doesn’t add that much new footage at all. A few seconds here and there, mainly to the two most violent moments in the film. I’ve included a resource link below to a very detailed breakdown of the changes. The additional footage doesn’t bring anything new to the story at all, and the extended Murphy death scene includes a panning shot of a dodgy looking model of Murphy right before he takes a bullet to his clearly fake head.
If your local theater was screening the original theatrical release, certainly try to make that showing. The film looks great, and Basil Poledouris’s classic score deserves a big sound system. At home a regular DVD will do. The blu-ray versions sharpness really exposes the imperfections in Robocop’s armor. To the point where you can see brush strokes in the black paint on his jaw and around his armpits. On DVD his suit looks like armor – on Blu-ray, it looks like a costume.
I love the scene where Robocop/Murphy visits his old house, and as he walks around he starts to have flash backs of his old life. The smooth panning shots as they fade into his flash backs, along with the excellent score are just great. Credit goes to Peter Weller too for managing to communicate the emotion in that scene despite having half his face covered.