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DVD Review

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RoboCop (2014)


Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson
Distributor: StudioCanal
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12
Release Date: 09 June 2014

The year is 2028 and multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is at the centre of robot technology. With robotic drones winning American wars around the globe, they feel ready to translate this technology to the home front. When loving husband, father and skilled cop Alex Murphy is critically injured in the line of duty, OmniCorp - headed by CEO Raymond Sellars - uses its remarkable science of robotics to save his life. Returning to the streets of Detroit equipped with amazing new abilities, Murphy must deal with issues a regular man has never had to face before...

Directed by José Padilha, Robocop is a reimagining of Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 classic, in which a critically injured cop is transformed into a part-man, part-robot police officer designed to rid Detroit of crime.

This is a very different movie to the original. For starters, out goes the ultra violent plot to be replaced with a more family-friendly movie. I have to say that in this day and age, when movies are ramping up the violence, it's refreshing to see a studio reverse the trend. It was always something that bothered me about the original - because after the movie came out there was a toy line released and the movie seemed to be gaining a child-friendly audience that had never actually seen the film. This is not surprising as kids love cops and robots, so the pairing of the two makes perfect sense. However, try telling a 9 year old kid that he can't see a movie that he's collected the toys from and your on a bit of a sticky wicket.

The film also manages to explore a little more what is going on inside Murphy's mind; how any of us would feel if we suddenly woke up and all that was left of our body was our head, lungs and brain. Unlike the original film, Murphy originally retains all of his personality when he is first "rebooted". It is only later, when the fallibility and limitations of the human condition make him less effective than a fully robotic cop, that his brain is scrambled and, like the original, his human side rewrites the programming to allow him to become a little more human.

There's the odd nod to the original. Basil Poledouris's 1987 theme is reworked slightly and used briefly and when we are first introduced to RoboCop, the initial design pays homage to the original movie's design.

There's some inspired casting here. Joel Kinnaman is a good choice as Murphy, and Michael Keaton plays the head of OmniCorp with just the right level of ambiguity that you're never quite sure if he's a good or bad guy (which is exactly as it should be). Gary Oldman, as scientist Dr. Dennett Norton, equally shrouds his character in many shades of grey: is he fighting for Murphy's well being, his own career or some other agenda? And finally Samuel L. Jackson turns in a wonderfully low-key yet sufficiently hammy enough performance to make you smile, as television presenter Pat Novak.

Extras include Deleted Scenes (3 min, 54 sec - nothing of any real interest); OmniCorp Corporate (3 min, 36 sec, which are short product launch info pieces on all of OmniCorp's weapons and vehicles); The Illusion of Free Will (7 min, 28 sec behind the scenes look at the origins of this remake and how the producers attempted to ground as much as possible in reality); To Serve and Protect (5 min, 51 sec look at the RoboCop gadgets - including an examination of how the taser gun resembles the original 1987 gun); The RoboCop Suit (14 min, 18 sec exploration of the various RoboCop outfits designed for the movie) and Trailer (2 min, 09 sec).

So, an interesting reimagining of one of the '80s most original movies.


Darren Rea

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