remakes, prequels, sequels. let's get one thing straight - i am not usually against them. the only time, prior to this, that i have rallied against any such type of film without seeing it (and still haven't) was the stupid idea of making Brideshead Revisited a 100 minute movie. it was just going to offend; in that space of time far, far too much of the book, one of the finest examples of the use of the English language ever, would be axed for what sounded like an Emma Thompson vanity project.
and now, eventually, we have RoboCop reimagined. eventually? yes. it was scheduled for an early 2013 release, as per my blog posts a couple of years ago. it mysteriously got pulled at more or less the same time the united, upset viewers of the first images flew off the handle at what had been done to the concept. the makers, Columbia, didn't dowse any fires by saying "oh, don't worry so much about how he [RoboCop] looks in these pictures, he has lots of costume changes". turning it into RoboBarbie was perhaps not the best way to win anyone over.
delays usually mean the film is bad. a classic example would be the remake of Rollerball. if i remember right, it was eventually released in the early 2000s. erm, Princess Diana was alive when they filmed it.
can one tell how bad this RoboCop remake is going to be from the trailer? sadly, yes, entirely. they have clearly torn the heart and soul out of the concept, removed every element that has made the original so endearing and relevant for close to 30 years and replaced it with generic nonsense, often borrowed it seems from the world of soap operas. but let's have a look.
first change is that it's no longer Officer Murphy who becomes RoboCop, it's Detective Murphy. not a bad change in itself, i suppose, but why would you change a Detective into a normal street cop, robotic or otherwise?
a major change, no doubt related to the above, is the manner in which Murphy is sort of dead enough to become Robo. in the new version he is blown up, apparently by terrorists.
hmn. quite a change from the original premise. yes i agree there is a lot of writing here, but other than a late *** MASSIVE SPOILERS WARNING AHEAD *** thing for you, in particular with regards to the original film (which is probably the only one you want to watch, or watch again), go on then, let's have a look at Clarence Boddicker.
Murphy's "death" in the original film remains one of the most brutal, barbaric, graphic and unpleasant things ever to hit the cinema screen. i have seen it a dozen times, i have seen theoretically much more violent scenes, but little has the effect this one has. sinister, downright nasty, and yet serves a brilliant plot point in illustrating the brutality of the world in every aspect, as is revealed later.
nope, not showing you any of the graphic scenes, but go on then, a tame still.
the one glimmer of hope, the one redeeming factor that this remake had on its side, and indeed had regular, routine fans of RoboCop and the rabid "fanboy" element alike being prepared to show patience and not judge it as likely to be crap was that Gary Oldman is in it. everyone likes Gaz, for Gaz is always good.
it seems that Gary Oldman is the designer / creator of RoboCop. the, if you will, Miguel of this new version. not a bad replacement actor at all.
for those of you who remember the original, the designer / creator of Robo had what one would call a "supporting role". and yet our Gaz appears in over half the trailer. does he really have that prominent a part in the film, or are they just wisely inflating his part in the hope of luring the audience in?
a change which makes sense but then again doesn't make sense is the dynamics of the owner / CEO / head of Omni, the company which creates Robo and builds other weapons (yes, ED is coming). in the original, the head was simply "The Old Man", a ruthless, evil businessman who could not care less for how things were made, just so long as there was profit.
it sort of makes sense, in the light of business trends in the last 20 years or so, to base the head of a techno company on an outright geek like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates of that fella that does the facebook and that, Mark something. this is clearly the type of person Michael Keaton has based his performance on.
hmn. i like Michael Keaton, a lot. away from Batman and Beetlejuice, for that is what he seems best known for, he really has done some amazing work. making what looks likely to turn into the "main bad guy", going on the trailer, a homage to rumours and stories of the Jobs, Gates and whoever of this word feels just rather heavy handed and simply distracting from what should be the core of the film.
and at the core of the film, of course, should be this guy.
that's RoboCop right there, reader. strong, powerful, intimdating, protective, reassuring. all in one look. man, they got it so perfect the first time around. image should be everything, and yet not overt. RoboCop himself looked awesome then, and having recently re-watched it, he still looks awesome now.
now have a good look at the sh!t sandwich that is the RoboCop of the new version.
yep, a highly unconvicing man in suit look has been adopted. face on full display? he has kept his hand? whatever happened to "full robotic prosthesis"? this slimmed down, clearly still retaining body parts thing they have on the go screams one thing and one thing only - Power Rangers. it just looks plastic, fake and unconvincing.
a lot of that has to do with the lack of the RoboCop helmet. Robo here has a visor that he can lift up and down, or as is seen in the trailer it can slide into place automatically for some sort of dramatic effect.
Hollywood is always keen to point out that it never learns from past mistakes. when they first had a go at Judge Dredd in the 90s they unwisely cast Sylvester Stallone as Dredd. not unwisely because he is bad, quite the opposite - he is an incredible action star and, as is all too easy to forget or laugh at, a talented actor. go look at the original Rocky movie to see what i mean. if he had got the Best Actor Oscar for that film, something i shall always feel he was robbed of, the mind boggles as to which way his career would have gone. no, it was unwise because if you have Stallone in your film, you can't have him in a helmet the whole time - you pay millions of dollars to have him so his face can sell your film.
thus Dredd took his helmet off. and the fans went wild, as wild as you could in those mostly pre-internet days, bad mouthing the film before it was released. move forward and the recent film version of Judge Dredd was a great success - and guess what, he kept his helmet on the whole time.
in the original Murphy takes the mask/helmet off when it makes sense to. in this new version, it's a visor that seems to be a fashion accessory. one with fancy lights.
oh my word. why does it have red lights on it? some sort of homage to KITT out of Knight Rider or the Cylons out of Battlestar Galactica? why do something stupid and pointless like this?
it all gets worse from here.
the way RoboCop saw the world was a "best guess" thing, as this screenshot shows. it features scanlines, and information flashing up before his eyes. and indeed Miguel, when he was in front of him and prior to his getting a visit from Clarence.
not a bad effect at all. these days it would be crystal clear HD 3D, of course, but it is not like the 80s effect looks that much out of place. if we were making artificial, robotic eye enhancers, they would probably be like that.
Detective Murphy in the new version, however, seems to have been kitted out in the eye division by Cyberdine Systems, no less.
yes, that's a familiar looking red flush to his vision, isn't it? and in case you missed out who they were ripping off, right there in the trailer is RoboCop using this red flush vision to identify a target. the T-800 from the Terminator films is indeed back, then.
not that Terminator is the only Schwarzenegger film they seem to have borrowed from. when battling in what in the trailer looks like a really well lit area, it is of course wise to switch to heat sensor mode on the visuals.
my, they can do wonders with the Predator vision thing these days. fingers crossed that this means Bill Duke or Carl Weathers gets a look in during the film. or Arnie himself, i suppose.
moving away from the character specific shenanigans and looking at the context of the new film, it seems that it has got itself into a right royal mess. instead of it being all Omni trying to dominate America by owning cities and selling to the military, it seems that the military is its main business. which makes you wonder why they are bothering to make a RoboCop in the first place, but no matter.
here's either America or Omni at war with an unspecified Arabic state, with some nice CGI planes bombing buildings at Random.
yes, the eagle eyed amongst you will have spotted what is either supposed to be ED 209 or its replacement in that picture, but trust me we will get to him. the shot also features some RoboCop variants that are pure robots, as in they do not have some almost dead Detective inside them. here's a whole army of them getting ready to do battle with RoboCop in what i thought at first was going to be part of one of them "training montage" scenes.
i stand to be corrected, but i suspect that this in fact is Michael Keaton's character unleashing the Omni army on to RoboCop to destroy him, presumably because Detective RoboCop has investigated (as a detective would) and discovered that the Keaton character is perpetuating the war for his own profit (like Jonathan Pryce in that Bond film he did), and also probably arranged for the terrorist attack on Murphy (like Jeff Bridges did in Iron Man).
the response to that would be either *yawn* or #yawn, whichever it is the kids do these days.
not so much the original. not at all. in the original, the evil Clarence Boddicker was in business with the simply sinister Dick Jones of OmniCorp. this was a brilliant, simple and effective statement on 80s capitalism. murder or markets, it is all money. the subtext of RoboCop said quickly and efficiently exactly what the equally brilliant Wall Street took two hours to say. if anything, though, the RoboCop presentation was more accurate, for the conclusion was that whoever loses, whoever dies, commerce and capitalism wins.
i am speculating, of course, but it seems that RoboCops' harsh realities and unforgiving commentary on capitalism and the direction the 'American way' was going in the 80s has been replaced with a mixture of the nerd with the laptop in Die Hard 4 and the "Blofeld in a Volcano" type villain from James Bond.
i mentioned that it appears that the heart and soul of the film has been taken out in this remake. these next few pictures show why this is the case.
first off, in many respects, this next image is from a scene in the trailer that shows the makers of the new version have just got it all plain wrong.
yeah, it was around the point in RoboCop 2 when Murphy took to a motorbike that audiences said "no, this is not going to be as good as the original". but that's not the issue. the issue is the lady in front of him.
that, dear reader, is Mrs Murphy. no, not the widow Murphy, for earlier on it is established that she is the one that gives the go-ahead for the RoboCop surgery. are you ready for the soap opera stuff? in the scene pictured, Mrs Murphy is flagging down her husband. presumably biking to a crime scene looking at the regular coppers around, to tell her husband that she needs to speak to her son.
cue one of them touching father-son moments in the trailer.
what a f*** up this is. the dynamics of RoboCop's psychology is that he is not supposed to have any human feelings or memories, but his sheer will to live means that he retains them. the internal conflict of knowing who he was, or is if you like, but that he is not and cannot be that anymore elevated the morality and depth of the film. the only person who connected to Murphy in his robotic state as if he were still a human, and not simply a machine, was his partner, Lewis. that was the one connection to humanity he had left, the one thing stopping him from going insane, or indeed "going postal", as a consequence of what has happened to him.
and now some sh!t for brains writer has said "i know, i will turn that around, so that everybody wants him and is OK with his new state, but it is he who rejects the advances and approaches of his family and everyone else". great, brilliant. what a genius. make him a loner that clearly despises what he has become, but all the same he carries on as some sort of law enforcement officer? let's hope the guy also rewrites Lethal Weapon at some point. he can get rid of all that silly stuff around Riggs being suicidal and dangerous out of sheer guilt at the death of his wife, instead just concentrating on the fun stuff, like jumping off buildings (more on that later).
getting rid of this important, harrowing human psychological drama from the RoboCop story is just plain stupid. it is no doubt why they seem not to have bothered with a partner for him in this version.
never mind that this element has gone, look, they have replaced it by giving Robo the ability to jump tall buildings in a single leap.
no doubt he is faster than a speeding bullet too.can he fly? going on the ill-fated jet pack idea from RoboCop 3, best not unless the intention is to get people to set fire to the cinema. it was after the jet pack scene in that horrid sequel that i switched off, if i recall correctly, it coming not too long after he did some sort of ninja thing. i have no idea how it ends.
i promised you that the film looks worse as the trailer goes on. indeed it does. in the original, the TV adverts and the news shows were brilliant. they predicted the "disposable, quick fire" way TV and entertainment was going, and usually provided much needed comic relief after some of the more intense moments in the film.
by anyone's standards, it would take some doing to take that concept, add Samuel L Jackson to it and make a right mess of it. by jove, line up the awards and praise, because somehow they have gone ahead and managed to pull that off.
the above picture speaks of "well, we have made a mess of this film, so let's give Sam the worst wig he has ever worn, finish the job off" in the production studio. it seems the approach with the TV breaks is to latch on to one of those hard, right-wing, shouty shouty types. gone it seems will be the cynical asides, the outright sarcasm and, sadly, the "i'll buy that for a dollar" dude.
i really hope that Samuel L Jackson, Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton too massive paychecks for their participation, and indeed trust they are not reliant on box office.
now, behold. admire this picture of ED 209. you have twenty seconds to comply.
who doesn't love ED 209? a brilliant comic invention, the malfunctioning machine that shoots at will. who cares if it worked or not, they had orders in place for it. comic relief and the perfect illustration of just how much corporates care for if what you buy from them works or not, so long as you keep buying. Apple before Apple, if you will.
and what have they done to ED 209? this.
that's a brilliant design change, isn't it? no? oh, you are right, no it is not. it now looks like one of them things off War Of The Worlds. it also looks efficient and precise, which would again raise the question of if that is the case, why would Omni even bother with RoboCop? especially when, as you can see above, ED 209 has a squadron of full on robot soldiers with him. which means they are cheap, easy and efficient to produce, meaning there is even less reason in the new version for the whole RoboCop programme, bar the whole soap opera "let's save her husband" thing going on earlier.
want to see ED 209 again? with Dick Jones and his team proudly looking on? sure you do.
an argument the producers have made for the new version is that the original is "dated", and what it "predicted" was wide of the mark. oh, really? so a remake of 2001 is next? no, thought not.
this, as has hopefully come across, is plain stupid. RoboCop was never about "predicting the future", few science fiction films ever are. they concern themselves with the present, placing everything faraway, in time or space, for symbolic and metaphorical reasons. to state that RoboCop requires a remake because of an "inaccurate presentation of the future" is either to not understand the film at all or simply to confess that no, there is no need for a remake.
but if we indulge them a bit, go on, here's RoboCop predicting the future. remember this film came out in 1987, or early 1988 in some parts. pay attention.
yes, that's a DVD Clarence has in his hands. he slots it in and a video plays. let me say again, this was 1987. VHS ruled, Beta was hanging on. Compact Disc was in its infancy and had a limited capacity even for just music. DVD was not on the market until some ten years after this film was made. so yeah, really got the future wrong.
the trailer for a movie is supposed to be the strongest selling point for going to see the film. if this trailer contains the best they have got, then they have a whole load of nothing to force onto the world in the name of RoboCop. this is going to be a spectacular disaster.
what would i say to Columbia and Sony? spend not a further penny on this film. cut your losses, stick the reels in a drawer and try better next time. whatever further money you spend advertising, promoting and releasing this is money lost. it will fail.
they will go ahead and release it, of course. they will have some optimistic hope of "catching people out". it won't work. they will blame "internet piracy" for the failure of this film as it has a "cyber" tone and all "cyber" people just pirate the stuff that appeals to them. more fool for making it, then, and with the perfectly good, still to this day brilliant original available on DVD and Blu Ray, why on earth would anyone bother to pirate what looks like a truly bad reimagining of it?
stay out of trouble.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!