Published on February 5th, 2014 | by Ari Nellen0
Ari reviews Robocop (the new movie)
I never expected to say this. I enjoyed the new Robocop movie. But my first advice is as always for a reimagining, don’t go in expecting the original.
This is not the original Robocop, it’s not even it’s spiritual successor. Robocop doesn’t punch enough guys or robots. And while Robocop does deliver the line, ‘you’re coming with me dead or alive’, there is no comic vigor behind the words. They attempt, as with Judge Dredd to let it live in the space between comic and life.
I think it doesn’t do an indepth job of taking about the science, but the science of the brain and emotions that they do talk about, the chemicals of the brain they utilise, are all close enough to sensible that it don’t break the suspencion of disbelief. (And I was in the cinema with a neuro science graduate). And I dont know about you but I know there’s heaps of stuff we don’t understand about the brain; so when the brain overcomes machine what the doctors have been attempting, and new neuron pathways beat programming, well I sort of believe it.
There are no huge fight scenes that are amazing, while I enjoyed them they attempted to make you fear for Robocops robot body to fail. But since the movie hadn’t set up expectations or limitation of the suit (for the most part) you ended up not fearing for him. There was ‘one gun that could kill him’, but it wasn’t inserted into a fight scene. So not only are you not on the edge of your seat, but I feel that they toned down the comic action which made it come out slightly bland. But for me the fight scenes are rarely what sells a movie to me.
Robocop is a Hollywood film and has a lot of the failings of Hollywood films. There’s the Iranians at the start that are just token characters, an entire race generalised to help support a plot point. None of the star players are POCs, there are some African American actors, but they are playing second fiddle (second bad guy, buddy cop, bad cop who gets shot first) to white men. The women in the film are quite token, usually set in a scene to describe what a man is doing, or to ask questions so they can be mansplained to. It’s good to see that there were more women than I would say is normal (4 main figures versus 7) but none are leads or pass the Bechdel test.
There are plot holes like; why isn’t every one wearing a exoskeleton if robots aren’t allowed and if a program can cross reference all surveillance data why didn’t they do that before*? And the film lacks some grandeur, there are no epic questions asked and the a lot of the smaller missions are down played.
Really though, what makes the movie for me is it’s anti capitalism/corporatism byline. The trope of ‘America wins’ is either down played or non-existent depending on your reading, and the bad guy is insidious. It makes it all the more possible, a likely outcome where governments fail to properly restrict companies. (This comes after hearing about a scientist being slandered for opposing a corporations pesticide)
It also has a well played out incremental moral degrading of the doctor (Gary Oldman). And while the decisions are rushed, and therefore less believable, the performance Oldman gives when he’s pushed is really great when there was so much space for ham.
Finally, and possibly the worst part of the film, is how bland Alex Murphy is. Joel Kinnaman’s performance isn’t enduring, and his story is nothing stand out. The film then only works because the post-humanism, and anti-corporatism make for interesting watching.
See this film if you like Gary Oldman, light post-humanism and science that isn’t unbelievable.
* If the answer is ‘only the human mind can facial recognise then I’m not buying because I cannot believe the human mind can do it that fast.