RoboCop (1987) Review of the Past

Your move, creep.

Your move, creep.

Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.

After hours of playing around with RoboCop’s amazing pistol in Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon (First Impressions here) and seeing Peter Weller in Star Trek Into Darkness (Review here), I fancied myself some RoboCop. A film I watched quite a lot when I was younger, RoboCop is a throwback to my childhood along with many other movies. I even had action figures which came with interchangeable battle damaged armour. Now I passed up on the trilogy Blu-ray box set not so long ago, but thankfully Netflix had me sorted with the trilogy waiting for my viewing pleasure.

Now the last time I remember watching RoboCop, I don’t even think I was in my teens. So it’s been quite a while. About a cop called Alex Murphy, he falls victim and is killed by a dangerous street gang. Murphy’s body is then reconstructed within a steel shell and given the name RoboCop. By upholding the law, RoboCop starts to clean the streets of Detroit and the corruption within it.

Peter Weller as Alex Murphy/ RoboCop is simply fantastic. As Alex Murphy, he plays a fearless cop and family man. In the short time we get to spend with him at the beginning of the movie, we build up a sympathetic love for the character which in turn, makes his death scene all the more horrifying. Becoming RoboCop can’t be easy, without the use of his eyes to convey emotion, Peter Weller has to rely solely on body movement and his vocal ability. He is able to pull this off fantastically, so when RoboCop is pissed off, you know it.

A great addition to cast is Nancy Allen as Officer Anne Lewis. Playing the partner of Alex Murphy/ RoboCop, it’s great to see a woman in the role of his partner. Being prominent throughout the 80’s and 90’s, cop partners were typically male. So because of that, it’s refreshing to have woman in the role. She does a great job at being thoughtful and sympathetic towards Alex Murphy/ RoboCop. She is a very likable character within the movie. Ronny Cox as Dick Jones and Kurtwood Smith as Clarence J. Boddicker play the villains in the movie. They play very unlikable characters (a good thing, they’re villains!) and become some of Alex Murphy’s/ RoboCop’s biggest threats.

Paul Verhoeven directs the movie that kicked off his career, with many more amazing movies down the line. Responsible for personal favourites like Total Recall, Starship Troopers and Hollow Man, as well as other great movies, Paul Verhoeven has some serious pedigree behind him. RoboCop is a well shot movie, with both car chase scenes and action scenes getting the same amount of care put into them. The pacing of the movie is also spot on. Running in at around 1 hour and 40 minutes, I never found myself bored whilst watching it. The balance of the action to the quieter moments when we get into some character development is perfect. You never find yourself waiting too long for some RoboCop action or the next part of the story to develop.

1987 was a great year for movies, with some classics like Predator, Evil Dead II and The Lost Boys pushing the boundaries of both special effects and visual effects. RoboCop was no different. I love it when people get shot in RoboCop, the way the bullet holes explode and the amount of blood that shoots out. Reminds me of the recent Django Unchained, and the shootout at the end of the movie. To toxic waste deformed criminals, to hands and arms being shot off, the special effects are still believable to this day. However, the design of RoboCop himself is not quite as great as I remember. It’s still iconic and for its time, really cool. I feel if we may have seen RoboCop run around a bit more and be more agile, I would have been more forgiving with the design. The last thing I want, is to see is RoboCop charging towards me, I’d shit my pants.

Not everything is perfect though, not when it comes to the ED-209. A crime fighting mech and the only thing that has a chance against RoboCop, ED-209 is a great design but the use of stop motion was a no go for me. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that building a full mechanical mech was too expensive or maybe not even possible at the time, however using stop motion was not the answer. Having the mech built from lightweight materials and having people movie it around with sticks would have been so much better. With closer camera angles, and using it like a giant puppet, it seems to me like it would have been the best option. If I was director, that’s what I would have done. That’s just me though, I’m not a big fan of stop motion animation.

Despite my disfavour with the stop motion towards ED-209 though, the battle between RoboCop and ED-209 is so awesome. When is seeing two robots fighting not cool? It’s great though because up to this point, we’ve seen that RoboCop is pretty much indestructible. Now, against the ED-209, he struggles during the fight. With high calibre rounds piercing his armour and the overall strength of ED-209, we see a side of RoboCop we never thought we’d see, fear and desperation.

I must say, watching RoboCop was a thrilling trip down memory lane for me. One or two things may not have stood the test of time too well, but overall I enjoyed the hell out of it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the 2nd or 3rd movie, so they’re next. Might just do a review of them if they are worth it. In 2014 we will see a remake of RoboCop, early set photos have not been too promising because the new RoboCop suit looks horrible. I’ll hold out judgement though until I see it, maybe they’ll add to the suit in post-production? The way the fans reacted, they may have even changed to suit all together. As it stands though, RoboCop is still badass!

8 Shotgun Blasts to the Body out of 10