80's violence but with a message, what's not to love?
In honour of Peter Weller’s 71st birthday on Monday, I thought I’d review the original RoboCop.
While in Spain recently, Mags and I watched the last half of the remake (which I actually don’t mind) and decided I needed to see the original again.
So during our weekend of not lifting a single finger, I found our copy and put it on. And even after all these years, I still loved every second of this Sci-Fi classic.
For those of you that have been living under a rock and never seen this piece of cinematic gold, for shame. But the story is: in the near future Detroit has gotten a lot worse and is a haven of crime.
OCP, a massive multi branched corporation intends to rebuild the city to its former glory as it is home of their world wide headquarters. To do so they have purchased a contract to run the city’s police force with the intention of using armed droids to pacify Detroit (and then sell them onto the army).
After one of the robots fails, they decide to use an recently deceased cop that is heavily augmented and becomes more machine than man, but unbeknown to OCP eventually regains his memories: enter RoboCop.
The casting was completely on point here with many big names of the 80’s, such as Miguel Ferrer, Kurtwood Smith and Peter Weller.
Ferrer’s Bob Morton, the seedy corporate executive behind the RoboCop program was brilliant, one minute you loved him, next you hated his guts, the guy had talent and he's sorely missed.
Kurtwood’s Clarence Boddicker was the awesomesauce bad guy, he just oozed evil and was a total sociopath, still one of my favourites to this day and when I rate antagonists I hold them up to Boddicker.
And Weller’s portrayal of Alex Murphy/ RoboCop was amazeballs; he was great as Officer Murphy, the husband, father, terrific policeman and after his transformation into the cyborg lawman, believe it or not he becomes a better actor (even with just half a face showing).
Fun fact, the costume weighed a ton and Weller hated every minute of it. In fact one scene (RoboCop catching keys thrown to him) took an entire day to film.
One of the things that blew me away when I saw this film as a child (yeah, I saw this first as a kid), was the special effects; which strangely enough are still bloody good, they still work and look realistic, and this is coming from someone who deliberately went in expecting to be disappointed. But dammit they are still great! Whether it was the ED-209 puppets or the way Weller became apart of the costume and looked like he really was half robot. Even the visuals of Detroit as a 80’s but set in the near future crime ridden shithole was brilliant.
What I love the most about RoboCop is that on the surface it’s just an action flick, but underneath it is a great satirical swipe at the way life in the US seemed to be headed (not robot police officers, but crime ridden and corporations “taking care of people” as a pretext to sell everything to everyone).
Plus director Paul Verhoeven just loves his extra themes and hidden Easter eggs, and has stated that he did make the character RoboCop to be an American Jesus: good man, dies horribly, gets resurrected and tries to change the world for the better but by dealing violence... Hell, he even walked upon water. What’s not to love?