Hidden Gems – What Have We Missed? Robocop 2014

Now, people often ask me – “Gavin, since you’re so awesome, can you recommend any good films for us to watch? As with all things, we defer to your judgement.”

At this point, polygamy is legalised and my simultaneous engagement to Jessica Alba, Nicole Scherzinger, and Kelly Hu is announced. And then I wake up … but I digress.

In all seriousness, folks, I routinely stumble across films that slipped past me in the cinema or that I might have dismissed at the time of release, but which then turn out to actually be awesome, or at least pretty good.

The 2014 reboot of Robocop is one such film. I’d like to say it was awesome, but it would be fairer to place it in the latter camp. That being said, as I am a loyal follower of the 1987 classic original film, I had expected much badness from the reboot.

I was wrong.

Not as wrong as I was with Thor, but lightning doesn’t strike twice. (That’s actually a myth, but the gag still works. Thanks folks, I’m here all week). The new Robocop film is actually pretty enjoyable, taken on its own merits. The action’s a little more sparse than I would have liked, but when it happens, it’s well executed and exciting. The special effects are great, and fans of the original will get a kick out of seeing how technology has evolved since then, even if only science fiction technology. It’s great to see how current Robocop’s abilities compare to the classic model.

The story is a little slow at times, but only a little. I’ve heard it criticised for that, but while I think a better balance could have been struck between action and character / story development, I can’t help but feel it’s better to err on the side of caution in this area. Too much action with no real character can really damage a film’s credibility … coughcoughTransformersfranchisecoughcough.

The acting is good, with the lead turning in a convincing performance, both before and after being blown to bits. The emotional content of the film was handled very effectively, and it was a tricky area to explore, I think. Obviously, there’s a tremendous amount of anguish and psychological trauma involved in limbs being amputated in real, everyday life. Alex Murphy, however, basically had his entire body and part of his brain amputated, so you’d have to imagine that the word “anguish” would be something of an understatement. That being said, people came to watch a science fiction action film, not a touching emotional drama. I felt they acknowledged that aspect of the character and spent a respectable amount of time on it, but didn’t dwell on it to the point of depressing the audience into a coma.

I was initially concerned they were going to make Robocop too human, but for a reasonable portion of the film, his human side is effectively erased, and I felt the actor did a good job of portraying a more robotic aspect.

Really, all the actors did a great job, although with Gary Oldman and Samuel L. Jackson on the roster, I really don’t think that could come as a total surprise. I’m told that the film performed better than a lot of people feared, but by all reports it didn’t do well enough to get a sequel greenlit, so it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing any more Robocop any time soon. Pity.

Well, hopefully you found this review informative and … even a little entertaining? It’s only my second entry and I’m new to the exciting world of blogging, so I’d appreciate any and all comments you care to leave. Would it be helpful, for example, if I introduced a ratings system? Are there any films you would like me to review? Let me know and I’ll do my utmost to get to them as soon as possible.

PS. For those of you who have seen this film, or who now go on to watch it … bonus points for anyone who can explain to me why Robocop still has a human hand. I still don’t understand that, because as near as I can tell, he no longer has either arm …

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