Movie Review: Robocop (2014) (3 1/2 *’s)

Robocop is a remake of the 1987 film of the same name. I don’t remember enough of the original movie to compare the two. All I remember was that it was pretty gory. This one wasn’t as gory, I think; it went the way of action-packed instead. Joel Kinnamon plays the lead character, Alex Murphy, a cop mangled by a car bomb and placed in a mechanical suit to survive. The film also stars Samuel Jackson, Gary Oldman, and Michael Keaton. Michael Keaton plays the bad guy, the evil exec of Omnicorp, Raymond Sellars. Gary Oldman plays Sellars’ brilliant scientist/henchman, Dr. Dennett Norton, who is constantly at odds with the Robocop program on moral grounds. And Samuel Jackson plays a newsman, Pat Novak, host of the program “The Novak Element” (I heard that the Novak Element was supposed to poke fun at The O’Reilly Factor of Fox News … if so, it did a poor job, but it was fine for the purposes of the movie).

 

Anyway, Alex Murphy is mauled by a car bomb and placed in the Robocop suit. Well, it’s really not a suit; it’s everything but his lungs, heart, and head, just about. Murphy has some difficulty adapting (imagine that!), but soon he settles into his new role as the Robocop; a marriage between man and machine in the pursuit of justice. Also of interest is the growing tension between Dr. Dennett Norton and Raymond Sellars. Sellars keeps making demands of Norton that push him just a little farther down the road to corruption, and each time Norton bends, until finally, he will bend no more. It makes for an interesting development. The Robocop character doesn’t really develop any more beyond the point of accepting his new role in life, but he does change (he kind of goes through a loop). Due to electrochemical manipulation, he becomes more robotic, but that, too, in time changes, although we are left to guess at the mechanism behind that (it is suggested that it is the soul or something not understood behind the change). Regardless, the movie roughly follows the same trajectory as the original with a similar climax. It is different because it explores in more depth the way that Alex Murphy deals with his new life as Robocop.

 

Strengths: the acting was fine, the plot was decent, and the action was good. Also, the special effects were superb, but that’s Hollywood these days. Weaknesses: I can’t think of any major weaknesses, although I kind of get tired of the big bad business exec motif that Hollywood keeps putting out. At least in the original, if I recall correctly, the bad guy was #2 and the #1 guy was not a villain. Anyway, that’s a tiny complaint, hardly worthy of mention.

 

In the end, I’ll give Robocop three and a half out of five stars.

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