Posts Tagged ‘Peter Weller’

ROBOCOP: 3 STARS. “doesn’t have Verhoeven’s vulgar verve.”

Robocop-Remake“The Wizard of Oz” has lived at the very center of popular culture for more than a hundred years. David Lynch cribbed from the story for his film “Wild at Heart,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is filled with references from books and isn’t C3PO just the Tin Man in a gold suit?

A new film—actually a remake of a much-loved 1987 movie—brings a new Tin Man to town. “RoboCop” stars Joel Kinnaman as the half human, half robot police officer who struggles to find his heart.

Set in 2028 the story takes off when Detroit cop and family man Alex James Murphy (“The Killing’s” Kinnaman) is almost blown to bits by a drug dealer looking to silence him. Burnt on eighty percent of his body, missing limbs, deaf and blind in one eye, the bomb appeared to have done the job. That is until OmniCorp, a multinational company run by ruthless businessman Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) sees a marketing opportunity with the fallen hero.

The company’s totally robotic law enforcement drones are being used worldwide with effective but deadly results. OmniCorp wants to expand into the lucrative American market but is stymied by Senator Hubert Dreyfuss (Zach Grenier) and his question: How can a robot know what it means to take a life if it has never lived a life?

Murphy is the answer. The catastrophically injured officer becomes the ghost in the machine, an organic brain for a mostly robotic body in a suit tailored by Daft Punk. He’s a rootin’, tootin’ crime fighting machine, but will the human part of the robot fight its way to the surface and allow Alex to get his robo-revenge on those who have done him wrong?

Paul Verhoeven’s “RoboCop” was social satire that used ideas about corporations and privatizing the police as a jumping off point for some pointed—if action packed—commentary. Today’s “RoboCop” doesn’t have the same shock appeal.

In our world where Detroit has gone bankrupt, unable to afford decent policing and national food chains use yoga mat chemicals in their bread, the black humor of the first film is now a dark reality laced with some man-machine ennui. It’s less fun than the original, but does have some high points.

Swedish born Kinnaman gives the character a Nordic sense of ennui that would make Ingmar Bergman grin. Alex is, for a while at least, tormented by the idea of his very existence. He brings some stoicism to the role and does an OK job of jawbone acting under the heavy mask but the emotional connection that Peter Weller forged with the characters (and the audience) in the original is missing. Murphy’s wife is nicely played by Abbie Cornish but despite some scenes with her and his son David (John Paul Ruttan) the story is focused elsewhere.

More expressive are Gary Oldham and Michael Keaton. Oldham takes a generic, morally divided scientist and gives him spark, while Keaton relishes playing the bad guy. Samuel L.  Jackson also livens things up as a Glen Beck type TV host who fuels the flames of controversy with incendiary statements like, “Has the US Senate become pro-crime?”

All three are big performances that stand out in a big, loud movie, but central to the story is a smaller role from Jay Baruchel as OmniCorp’s head of marketing. He’s a corporate weasel who works amoral marketing angles to make RoboCop palatable to the public. “He transforms!” he says. “Kids love it. Focus numbers are through the roof.”

Baruchel doesn’t over or underplay the character, he simply allows him to breath and in doing so creates the most chillingly realistic portrait of venality in the film. He’s the real wizard behind the curtain.

“RoboCop” is a more generic film than its predecessor. It simply doesn’t have the vulgar verve that Verhoeven brought to the original, but between the explosions and bullets it does tackle some big, timely questions about drone warfare and corporate responsibility. The movie doesn’t exactly take the time to tackle and then wrestle these ideas to the ground, but hey, at least the new suit is really cool. It’s enough to make Oz’s Tin Man jealous.

New RoboCop to be ‘satirical’ and ‘realistic’, won’t just be a remake of the original

robocop1By Richard Crouse In Focus – Metro Canada

If the original RoboCop movie is any indication, sometimes life does imitate art.

The 1987 film shows a crime-ridden and financially ruined Detroit turning to a part-human, part-robot cop to police the streets. As far as I know, no cyborgs have ever patrolled the neighbourhoods of Motor City, but 27 years after the movie hit theatres, Michigan’s most populous city declared Chapter Nine, becoming the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history.

Prescient? Perhaps. wrote, “With Detroit’s bankruptcy, we’ve seen much of RoboCop come to pass,” while screenwriter Ed Neumeier remembers a note written in the margin of his copy of the script, “The future left Detroit behind.”

The writer also told CNN, “We are now living in the world that I was proposing in RoboCop.”

The original Peter Weller movie lived at the centre of popular culture when it came out, spawning two sequels, a television series, two animated shows, a mini-series, video games and several comic books.

And today RoboCop is still a going concern.

Later this year a 10-foot-tall tribute statue will be unveiled in Detroit and this week a remake will become the first RoboCop movie to be released in IMAX.

The new RoboCop is an all-star affair, with Swedish star Joel Kinnaman as the title character and appearances from Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson and Jay Baruchel. Just don’t expect a straight-up copy. “I’m not trying to remake RoboCop,” says director José Padilha, “because I don’t think RoboCop is remake-able.”

Instead, Kinnaman says, the new film will be “realistic,” and “will have a satirical quality… It’s going to have that wink in the eye, but we’re not looking to replicate the [original director Paul] Verhoeven tone.”

The one thing the two films have in common for sure is that while both are set in Detroit, neither used the city as the principal shooting location. Verhoeven filmed his movie in Pennsylvania and Texas whereas the new movie was lensed mainly in Toronto and Vancouver.

Even criminals love RoboCop

Another incident illustrates how the film aided real life law enforcement… at least once.

A robbery suspect/movie fan in Sacramento, Calif., tried to elude police by hiding out in a movie theatre showing RoboCop. He became so immersed in the film he didn’t notice the cops evacuating the audience, leaving him alone and busted when the lights came on.