RoboCop (2014) Blu-ray Review
It seems like every movie that comes out nowadays is either a sequel (or pre-quel), a re-imagining or rebooting of something we’ve already seen, or something more loosely related (like all the Marvel movies) but still along the same vein from the other ideas. Is it time for something new and original? I never wished for this more than when I sat through the first three or four minutes of the new ROBOCOP, loosely based on the 1987 Paul Verhoeven flick that, itself, spawned two sequels and a television show and several lackluster video games. But is the rebooted ROBOCOP worth your time? Thankfully, though I may find myself in small company with other critics, it absolutely deserves a watch.
At its core, the basis of the new ROBOCOP the same as the old movie – what happens when you put a man inside a machine? This reboot approaches a question and a level of social consciousness the original never could. I say approaches because it never quite goes all the way with the questions it poses, settling instead for video-game violence and CGI effects that don’t quite impress. But the best science fiction, like this new ROBOCOP, at the very least pose the question and make us think, and ROBOCOP does succeed in this endeavor.
One of the reasons this popcorn/event movie is able to get away with posing such deeply seeded questions of conscience and consciousness is the casting. This time around our robotic hero is played by newcomer Joel Kinnaman (detective Stephen Holder in television’s THE KILLING) and he has some chops. Having started his career in his native Sweden, Kinnaman brings an approach more genuine than we usually get to experience in science fiction flicks. And Kinnaman isn’t the only strong link in the acting chain that is ROBOCOP. He’s surrounded by talented veterans Gary Oldman (THE DARK KNIGHT RISES), Michael Keaton, and Samuel L. Jackson (who I hesitate to include because I really hated his role in the film). Keaton feels a little bit stiff but has some very nice scenes, specifically with the amazing Oldman who continues to impress as his career moves forward.
The director also did a great job getting newer talent like Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach from THE WATCHMEN), Michael K. Williams, and Abbie Cornish who are given much more range in their roles than the original Verhoeven-production allowed. Jackie Earle Haley is becoming one of my favorite character actors for his impressive resume and he is no less intriguing in his role here. Cornish does a fine job with what little she is given as Murphy’s wife though I would have liked to have seen more of the implications surrounding the family – what would you do when faced with such a decision – to save your husband’s life but to allow him to become something… different; or to let him potentially die?
As you can tell, I really enjoyed my time with Jose Padilha’s new take on ROBOCOP. It certainly isn’t perfect but the plusses far outweigh the minuses in this creative new science fiction flick. The thing that probably makes me the most upset about this movie is my own reluctance to support it when it was released in the theaters and the fact that so many people will probably miss it for the same reason. Who thought we needed a ROBOCOP reboot? Thankfully Padilha and company did, because this movie is far more enjoyable than the trashy cult-classic to which it pays homage. Check it out.
ROBOCOP BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.40:1) The video presentation of ROBOCOP is technically flawless and absolutely impressive. Sadly the CGI sequences are just a bit too detailed on an HDTV and become far too video-gamey which really mars the production.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) ROBOCOP features some beautiful audio that immerses you into future Detroit. Very well done.
Deleted Scenes (03:59) Available to watch at once or separately these are pretty typical of scenes that have to be cut for the sake of the final product. Sadly there is one scene that really goes to the heart of the film’s main villains that would have been a nice addition (Right Hand) but nothing else really worth your time. The scenes include Pentagon, Right Hand, Helicopter, Lewis and Dean, Norton Confesses to Dreyfus.
Omnicorp Product Announcement (03:27) Several commercials for OmniCorp products are presented on ROBOCOP. Thankfully they are fairly short.
ROBOCOP: Engineered for the 21st Century (28:47) A making-of feature is presented in three parts on the ROBOCOP Blu-ray. One of the anecdotes makes me really sad: presented in the first minute or so of the feature director Padilha talks about how he came to work on ROBOCOP. Apparently he was meeting with MGM and they were throwing out old franchises for him to reboot (he specifically mentions THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN – because that story has never been told before, again and again, for the last thirty years)… and he brings up ROBOCOP. I’m glad he did as I really enjoyed the final product… but is this what Hollywood has come to? Apparently it is. The rest of the feature goes in-depth in the filming process, casting, and the special effects surrounding the suit. Very fun stuff.
The ROBOCOP Blu-ray also features Theatrical Trailer 1 (02:12) and Theatrical Trailer 2 (02:12) as well as an UltraViolet DigitalHD Digital Copy of the film.