Thaddeus Awotunde
The Silhouette

RoboCop
Director: José Padilha

The new RoboCop is sleeker and faster than the 1987 original, but it’s not even nearly as effective.

Where the original was a multilayered satire infused with over-the-top action, intense gore, and pitch black humour, this one is mostly a modern day action film with a few jabs at post 9/11 American foreign policy.

In this version, Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is a clean cop who ends up in a fatal accident planned by corrupt cops in cahoots with an arms dealer. OmniCorp is being run by Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton), a Steve Jobsesque CEO who funds the creation of RoboCop as a sort of PR stunt to put a human face behind the robot enforcers to convince Americans that robots patrolling their ground is a good idea.

What follows is pretty straightforward. RoboCop has to deal with the desire to remain human and be connected to his family, Dr. Norton (Gary Oldman) deals with the moral implications of manipulating life that is still partially organic, and Samuel L. Jackson puts on a Fox News host impression.

Everything is just alright. The action is all familiar and not too different from any other mid-tier blockbuster or big budget videogame. Though the violence is fairly tame, and RoboCop is only allowed to carry a taser. Most of the dialogue is middling, without much wit, profundity, or nastiness (especially compared to the original).Where the original had memorable villains such as vicious crime lord Clarence Boddiker and ruthless businessman Dick Jones, this one was lacking. The criminal in charge of RoboCop’s demise barely had any screen time or dialogue of note – he’s underwhelming overall. The most notable image of this film is seeing the remains of Alex Murphy when not in his suit.

A fun aside is the fact that this was filmed in Hamilton and it’s possible to spot a few Hamilton locations in the film.
Like another modernized Verhoeven remake Total Recall, this one didn’t seem to do too well in the box office, which means that there may be no more sequels.

All that being said, the film is still better than what I had anticipated. Even though I feel it was an unnecessary remake, it is a welcome addition to a series of films that had fallen so far down that it was barely functional. It took a dip in quality when RoboCop 2 came out, and RoboCop 3 was the point of no return. They transformed a series that prided itself on gritty crime violence and comedic social criticism to something that simply aspired to sell toys to elementary school students.

And then of course there was the made for TV Canadian Miniseries RoboCop Prime Directives – the less that gets said about that one, the better.

In the end, the new RoboCop gets a pass just because the bar had been set so low by everything that followed Paul Verhoeven’s side-splitting classic.

3/5

The cast and crew of the RoboCop remake are in Hamilton to shoot scenes for the film, which will come out in 2013.

Yesterday, local residents lined up along James Street North and Colbourne to watch the rain towers at work for special effects.

The film crew will be shooting scenes from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. on Sept. 26, 29 and 30, as well as Oct. 1. On those days, James St. N. will be closed off to traffic between Barton St. and Cannon St. from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. Businesses will remain open and locals are welcome to drop by during filming, which is expected to bring $350,000 to the city.

The cast of the science fiction action film includes Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton.

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