Robocop by Paul Verhoeven

  1. Toby Frost

    Toby Frost Well-Known Member

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    In a predictably run-down, bought-out future, crime is rampant, the police have been privatised, the gap between rich and poor is vast, cynical corporations run the country and everything is much as it probably will be in about three years' time. Patrolman Murphy is viciously murdered by gangster Clarence Boddicker and his gang and rebuilt by the police corporation as a law-enforcement robot. In the course of enforcing justice Dirty Harry-style, Robocop starts to remember his former life, and discovers corruption running to the executives at the top of the police.

    Robocop is an exciting, blackly comic and phenomenally violent thriller. It was Paul Verhoeven's first big film, and sets the tone for his later Starship Troopers. Robocop is cartoony (rumour has it that it was originally intended to be about Judge Dredd) but not stupid, and takes broad satirical swipes at commercialism, corporate politics and the naffness of the future (there are frequent mock adverts and news items, all firmly tongue in cheek), in between showing us a lot of things blowing up and people getting shot.

    Robocop himself is a great creation: a sort of law-enforcing terminator, complete with cheesy lines ("Your move, creep!") and a jerky walk that looks like someone dancing to a slow dubstep record. The action sequences are quite good, although they do tend to involve Robocop lumbering forward and firing whilst everything explodes around him, assisted by Basil Poledouris' bombastic score. As I say, the violence is really crazed: a man melts in toxic waste, another has his hand obliterated with a shotgun, and at one point when Robocop dispatches an enemy close-up, it seems that the crew have tipped a bucket of blood over his head. Even by modern standards, it thoroughly deserves its 18 rating.

    The acting and characterisation of the main three characters gives Robocop a bit of solidity that it really needs. Kurtwood Smith, as Boddicker, is a maniac of awe-inspiring ferocity: looking like a balding suburban dad, he doesn't chew the scenery so much as gobble it down and spit it back at the camera. Nancy Allen, as Murphy's fellow cop and sidekick, manages to be perky, tough and helpful without becoming irritating. (Verhoeven deserves credit for not forcing a romantic subplot in here). Best of all, though, is Peter Weller as Robocop/Murphy, who gives the role a remarkable level of pathos seeing that he spends most of the film with a steel bucket covering the top half of his head. Unlike Verhoeven's later Starship Troopers, whose most likeable characters are CGI beetles, he invokes real sympathy, stuck in a sort of undeath, remembering his former life but unable to do much about it.

    Robocop isn't high art the way that Blade Runner arguably is, but it doesn't want to be (and why should it, necessarily?). It delivers the brutal action it promises, together with a side-helping of satire and black comedy, and if you go into it with the right attitude and expectations, you won't be disappointed. 8/10.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  2. BAYLOR

    BAYLOR There Are Always new Things to Learn.

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    Jun 29, 2014
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    12,120
    I saw it in the theaters when it came out. Its satirical and savagely funny and very dystopian and inlaces touchingly sad. The sequels lacked the writing and the satire of the the first film. What stye lacked in writing they more hone made up for with gratuitous valance and mayhem. The Tv series in the 1990 recaptured some of the the satire in the first film but never caught on with audiences. The two miseries while not great were at least entertaining . The 2014 Reboot of the the film wasn't a great film but it was a decent science fiction action flick.
     
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