Lacks lustre of original

2014-02-10 00:00


IN 1987, the Bangles dominated the airways with their hit single Walk Like an Egyptian, the Simpsons are seen for the first time on TV, my parents were blessed by the birth of me and audiences were treated to a film experience that they hadn’t quite seen before in the form of Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop. Now the studio executives in Hollywood — fixated on the “rebooting” franchises — have taken it upon themselves to target RoboCop to a wider audience, dropping the age restriction from an R18 to a 10-12 certificate.

The film is set in the year 2028 in Detroit, and America is the only country in the world not allowed to use robotic cops on the street. OmniCorp — the company which manufactures the mechanised police officers — are desperately trying to overturn a state bill that prohibits the use of these new-age law enforcers. When honest and dedicated-to-the-job policeman Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is nearly killed by a car explosion, the massive tech corporation uses this as an opportunity for them to humanise the robotic cops by fusing Murphy — well what’s left of him — with a machine. And the result is RoboCop, but it’s not that simple.

OmniCorp uses one of their chief doctors, Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman), to aid Murphy in his transition to half-man, half-robot and with pressure from OmniCorp owner Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton), the good doctor resorts to some questionable work ethics. The relationship between Oldman’s and Keaton’s characters really enhances the story and carries the plot along at a captivating pace.

I asked myself why a “big budget” action film with such a cult following was not released in the summer. And the answer was revealed after watching it. The film just doesn’t have the calibre to be deserving of a summer release date. There are a good few action scenes, but they are plain down average, with sequences that we have been accustomed to in standard action films. However, there is one scene — where Robo­Cop takes out giant dog-like mechs — which stands out from the rest, but even when it’s over, you are not going to remember it when driving home from the theatre.

The film’s only saving grace is the drama segments, which revolve around the moral dilemma that Oldman’s character is put into and the psychological challenge that Murphy endures during his transformation into Robo­Cop.

The acting — with particularly Oldman and Keaton stealing every scene that they are in — is top-notch all round, but it is not enough to put RoboCop in the same light as the original. The film is like eating a three-course meal and still feeling hungry.

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