Unnecessary “RoboCop” remake pales to original

Photo by Frederick Dennstedt, via flickr

Rafael Abreu/Staff Writer 

Whenever we approach something, be it an event or a work of fiction, we bring with it our biases; no matter how hard we try, it’s an incredibly difficult, if not impossible, task to see something objectively and without bias. Entering 2014’s “RoboCop,” I told myself to be completely objective, to see it as its own film, and not to compare it to the 1987 original. Unfortunately, during parts of the film, I found myself doing just that, noticing how it differed in aspects to the original, which lines from the original are brought up, and whether or not it was as satirical and biting. One thing is for sure: there is almost no humor to be found.

“RoboCop” takes itself very seriously, which would have probably worked in its favor had it not also featured sentimental moments that come off more as obligatory then genuine. However, a film of this kind probably shouldn’t take itself so seriously; it could have at least been darker, which I would have preferred over whatever it thinks it is. “RoboCop” has a bit of an identity crises, sometimes coming off as the dark film I want to see, and sometimes coming off as a light action movie with very little action. A film like this should have been rated R, but for one unfortunate reason or another, it was rated PG-13 (for too many reasons to list here).

The film presents many interesting ideas about arrogant patriotism, powerful corporations, AI controlled forces (drones, for example), yet it never seems to bring to light what I thought was the most fundamental thing about RoboCop: Humanity. You see, RoboCop is supposed to be a robot, a man in a machine, but still mostly a robot. He is supposed to be stripped of his humanity, yet, he still retains it, rendering him to still feel and have traumatic memories, which makes him just as human as anyone else. No matter how he may look, there is still a man underneath all the technology – there is still a soul.

The film never seemed to want to investigate this aspect of the character; this is probably because the character of Alex Murphy, who becomes RoboCop, is already conscious of himself from the get-go, never being full-on robot unless someone tinkers with his programing. Even then, Murphy is eventually able to override anything that makes him less than human, baffling all of the scientists who supposedly made him in such a way that would prevent this from happening. The plot of “RoboCop” then becomes muddled, becoming less special and more formulaic. Instead of following up on its talks about drones, corporations, humanity, and America, the film merely trickles these ideas throughout, never fleshing them out and always making them seem more like ideas the writers wanted to put in the movie for the sake of having ideas. The themes presented that could be further explored for valuable insight are never utilized in the way they should be, leaving one with a film that only had a simple, not-so-special story that needed some other stuff to keep it “authentic.”

On the technical side of things, “RoboCop” looks nice, but half the time the camera insists on being shaky, as opposed to staying still. Why must a film be shot hand-held, especially a film that is supposed to be slick and polished? Why do filmmakers refuse to acknowledge the ever reliable apparatus known as a tripod? It doesn’t even stay consistent: Scenes of people merely talking can have normal, non-shaky angles, but then go to a shot that appears hand-held. One thing I’ll give the filmmakers credit for is the use of the 360 degree shot; in many films this technique is useless and unnecessary, but this film manages to take advantage of it to show us other things around the characters that are actually part of the scene.

I’m not sure what to take from “RoboCop,” since it didn’t seem to be well aware of what it wanted to give to its audience. It doesn’t quite work as an action movie, since there aren’t as many action sequences as you’d think. It isn’t as dark as it could have been, though it does have a few good moments of edge. It isn’t as biting as it wants to be, and isn’t in anyway satirical like it had the potential to be. A remake of “RoboCop” had no reason to be made, and as this film proves, they couldn’t even bother with trying to stay faithful to what made the original a classic.


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