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


Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) Review

The Star Trek Into Darkness Rises

The Star Trek Into Darkness Rises

The ship’s dead, sir! She’s gone.

In 2009, the J.J. Abrams directed Star Trek. It hit theatres and gave new life to the franchise, it also brought new people in to what was already a very established universe. Back for the sequel ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’, J.J. Abrams has once again made a film that appeals to the people without knowledge of the previous movies/ TV series. Now I’ve seen very little of any Star Trek other than the J.J. Abrams movies. However, that’s not to say that I ‘m not capable of giving this a fair review. In fact, that should make this review all the more fair.

Star Trek Into Darkness is all about the crew of the Enterprise finding an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization. Knowing this, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.

All previous cast members from the 2009 movie return, reprising their roles on the Enterprise and beyond. They all put just as much effort into their roles as they did in the last movie. All the relationships carry on over too, both the love and hate ones. This time around there are 3 pretty major new inclusions to the cast. These are Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan, Alice Eve as Carol Marcus and finally we have Peter Weller as Admiral Marcus.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays the antagonist in the movie, Khan. At times in the movie you don’t know where his loyalties lie. That is what’s so mesmerising about his performance throughout the course of the movie. He plays a villain you love to hate. The script for his character is also fantastically written, combine that with the top-tier acting he brings with him, and you’ve got yourself the perfect villain. Benedict Cumberbatch was the highlight of the movie for me, when his character is in the fight scenes, he plays him with such precision, kicking all kinds of ass.

A new member of the Enterprise, played by Alice Eve, is Carol Marcus. She’s a scientist but also a weapons specialist and a very welcome addition to the team. That’s because I feel we needed more of a female presence on the Enterprise, we already have a large collection of leading males. She does well in the role, adding a nice sexual appeal along with Zoe Saldana as Nyota Uhura for the male audience like myself.

Peter Weller is in charge if the Starfleet as Admiral Marcus. I must say, as a fan of Robocop, I loved that he was in the movie. It caught me off guard, I had no idea he was even in this movie. He does his best with what he has, playing someone in charge is acting 101 and the way he plays his character is a lot like has come before in countless movies. As the story progresses though, we learn he has a lot to do with what is happening. This gives Peter Weller a chance to shine and he does just that, playing a cold leader, ready to kill to the cover the truth of what he has done in the past.

Compared to the 2009 Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness felt a lot more action oriented. It’s like they felt the 2009 movie spent its time to establish these characters enough to have a second movie just focus on delivering more action. That may leave character development to struggle at times, but mostly Star Trek Into Darkness succeeds to tell an interesting story whilst still throwing action at you on a constant basis. For that I have to praise the pacing of the movie. Any time we do get away from the action, they spend it developing relationships and characters as best they can given the time.

Being an action heavy movie, it’s safe to say that the action on-screen is eye candy. From fight scenes were you feel the punches as they connect, to chase scenes were the camera pulls you into the chase making it all the more intense. One particular scene, involving Klingons, Khan and some Enterprise personnel was amazing. It’s our first real look at what Khan is capable of in the movie and it succeeds in doing just that. This one scene sticks out as being my favourite in the whole movie.

The comedy aspect of the film I felt was not as strong as it’s predecessor. With Simon Pegg’s character of Scotty feeling underused because he’s missing for half of the movie. Star Trek Into Darkness feels like a more serious movie because of this. I feel like I had more fun with the 2009 Star Trek because of the comedy and the splintering relationships between some of the characters. That’s not to say there isn’t any light heartedness contained within the movie, just not as much as I would have hoped for.

J.J. Abrams still throws around lens flare like no one else. Whilst not doing much harm to the movie, it can get pretty distracting in key scenes, going as far as blocking the view at times. Something else I wasn’t too happy about was the ending. It isn’t bad by any means, but I expected so much more. After the anticlimactic fight, from there it’s all very Hollywood and happy times. I expected something different, maybe even a cliff-hanger for a sequel, but instead they chose to leave it wide open for anything to happen in the next movie.

When all is said and done, J.J. Abrams has an annoying name to keep typing. Joking aside, Star Trek Into Darkness was a very entertaining movie, it may have lacked some context and even gone with a little too much action at times. However, looking past that, I’d recommend you go and see it as soon as you can. Leave your brain at home and get ready for the eye candy that is Star Trek Into Darkness.

Let’s just hope J.J. Abrams has the same, if not more success with the Star Wars franchise in the future.

8 Klingons out of 10