Review: ROBOCOP (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Review: ROBOCOP (2014)

Comparing with Paul Verhoeven's 1987 original version is unfair, but the new ROBOCOP here manages to stand on its own as a reasonably engaging effort.

In 2010, acclaimed director Darren Aronofsky (THE WRESTLER, BLACK SWAN) was originally attached to direct the ROBOCOP reboot. Frankly, I thought he was the right choice to reboot the once-popular franchise back in the late '80s. Unfortunately, he quits the project and Brazilian director Jose Padilha (ELITE SQUAD, ELITE SQUAD: THE ENEMY WITHIN) was brought in as his replacement.
  
WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?

When police detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is critically injured during a car explosion in front of his home, CEO of OmniCorp Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) sees him as a golden opportunity to make him feel alive again by turning him into "Robocop" -- a cyborg police officer which is touted as the future of law enforcement in America. However, OmniCorp doesn't realize that Murphy still has a personal vengeance in his mind to pursue the criminals who nearly caused him dead.

THE GOOD STUFF
 
Like the first two ELITE SQUAD movies, director Jose Padilha delivers the same raw intensity that gives ROBOCOP a quasi-documentary feel to the action sequences. Even though Padilha utilizes shaky camerawork, at least he doesn't make the scene so wobbly until the viewers unable to see what's really going on. The special effects are spectacular, while the costume design for the all-new Robocop in a black tactical body actually looks quite nifty.

Swedish-American actor Joel Kinnaman (best known in the US for TV's The Killing) delivers an emotionally engaging performance as Alex Murphy and Robocop, while Michael Keaton steals most of the spotlight as the slimy CEO of OmniCorp Raymond Sellars and Gary Oldman gives a perfectly restrained performance as the sympathetic Dr. Dennett Norton. Other minor roles -- including Abbie Cornish as Murphy's wife, Clara; Jackie Earle Haley as the military tactician Mattox; and Samuel L. Jackson as the media host Pat Novak -- are all equally impressive.
  
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT(S)
 
The brief but intense battle between Robocop and a small army of ED-209 during the climactic finale.
  
THE BAD STUFF
  
The biggest weakness in this ROBOCOP reboot is Joshua Zetumer's captivating but bloated screenplay. First of all, the story drags too much with Murphy's personal family matter with his estranged wife Clara (Abbie Cornish) and son David (John Paul Ruttan). Then there's the underwritten plot involving Murphy's personal vengeance against Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow), who is responsible for the car explosion. Even the so-called social commentary involving the "robo-phobic" issue quoted by Samuel L. Jackson's Pat Novak doesn't really say much that worth a debate.
  
FINAL WORDS

While the new ROBOCOP is far from a genre classic by any means, at least Jose Padilha's version isn't as bad as most people might have expected. Just put your mindset of the Paul Verhoeven's original 1987 version aside, and treat this as an entirely new movie altogether.


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