It may not seem too untoward to you, but for me, it is ridiculous that = before watching it on Netflix for this review – I had never seen the original Robocop, Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 classic. You may say that not the whole world has seen it, but what it makes it strange is when considering which parts of the Robocop franchise I have seen. I watched Jose Padilha’s reboot Robocop in cinemas early 2014, and September 2014 I watched the quite frankly disastrous Robocop 3. I honestly have no idea why I never saw the one that started it all, but looking back, I’m so glad I have.
Robocop follows Alex Murphy – played by Peter Weller on fine form – a new transfer to the Detroit police department, now run by the mysterious Omni Consumer Products. Perhaps Murphy was a bit too enthusiastic, because not long into his career as a police officer in Detroit, he is ambushed by Clarence Boddicker, a drug kingpin, and his gang, who proceed to shoot at Murphy, leaving him horribly mutilated and on the brink of death. Over at OCP, they are looking for a way to create a policeman 100% dedicated to the job, a policeman who doesn’t need sleep or food, I suppose you could say, a robot. At this stage, our hero is transferred into a metallic body, and the ass-kicking RoboCop is born.
I don’t want to say too much else about the plot, because I feel it is best experienced without too much knowledge as to what will happen. Before watching it, the synopsis I have written above was all I knew about the film. The plot was superb, with lots of twists and turns that I really did not expect. There were some really deep and thought-provoking moments in the film, and I can guarantee that long after seeing the film, I will still be thinking about it and the themes it provided the viewer.
Another excellent feature was the acting. Peter Weller was superb as RoboCop, and it’s hard to believe that there was a human under there, considering his incredibly convincing performance. Nancy Allen was believable as RoboCop’s sidekick Anne Lewis, and Kurtwood Smith was brilliantly evil as Clarence Boddicker. Performances were good all around, and there were no moments where I felt dragged out of the experience because of an actor or actress’ performance.
However much I enjoyed it, there were some flaws. Having seen the 2014 remake, where there is a focus on Murphy’s relationship with his family, that element was non-existent, which made the film feel less deep and emotional as the 2014 update. Another problem I had was the ending, and the climax in general. The stakes never felt that high, and there wasn’t really any tension. It is a shame that the final battle never felt like it was on a large scale. Another problem I had was the ending, which felt very rushed. It is literally 15 seconds or less between the villain’s gruesome death and the beginning of the end credits, which was a shame.
Although I had a few qualms, I absolutely loved RoboCop. I loved the design of the world, I loved the adverts and news reports during the film’s tensest points, I loved the direction of the masterful Paul Verhoeven, and apart from a few small issues, I loved it all. I will definitely be coming back to RoboCop, because it is an excellent film that deserves its status as a cult classic. Although I know I may not enjoy RoboCop 2, and I know I didn’t enjoy RoboCop 3, but they are unimportant when considering a film as timeless and classic as 1987’s RoboCop.
I give RoboCop (1987) 8 out of 10.
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