AKA All the reasons Robocop (1987) kicks Robocop (2014)’s ass….
• Paul Verhoeven’s 1984 satire clocks in at a slim trim and efficient 102 minutes while Jose Padilha’s bloated remake almost hits the two hour mark.
• Verhoeven is the Dutch master of trashy spectacle as he’s proved in movies such as Starship Troopers, Total Recall and Hollow Man. In fact, this is the dude who collected his own Razzie worst director award in person for Showgirls and listens to Rammstein most of the time. He’s a legend. Padilha meanwhile has cut his teeth on documentaries like Bus 174 and has no Hollywood or action experience prior to the filming of Robocop.
• Peter Weller star of the original may not be well known but he’s popped up in quality TV shows like Dexter, 24, Fringe etc as well as making batshit crazy off-the-wall films including Naked Lunch and Screamers. The man’s got range. And no offence to Joel Kinnaman but a few action flicks like Safe House aside he’s only really known for The Killing (Swedish version) at this point.
• Verhoeven took the unusual step of having his lead female character in the film be Murphy’s partner at work, a fellow cop (Nancy Allen) who matched him in both intellect and physical threat. He was smart enough to avoid the trap of falling back on the old cliché- the attractive grieving widow/wife whose screen time amounts to a few teary scenes of anguish and soul-searching. A trap Padilha walked straight into with Abbie Cornish.
1984- Part man. Part machine. All cop. The future of law enforcement
2014- We’ve got the future under control
Enough said really.
• Verhoeven spent $13 million making his satire and made $53 million back in the US alone. It’s hard to imagine Padilha’s $120 million behemoth making back four times its budget even globally speaking.
• Verhoeven has admitted that he sees his Robocop as a futuristic Christ like figure- hell he even had him walk on water at one point. In comparison, aside from Oldman’s Doctor being named after a prominent philosopher, if you can find any kind of spiritual/existential interpretation in the modern version, then you’re clearly a smarter person than me.
• The Dutch director of the original came back with things like this when questioned about his movie- ‘People seem to have this strange idea that films can influence people to be violent, but in my sincere opinion film only reflects the violence of society….The sooner we admit our capacity for evil the less apt we are to destroy each other….People love seeing violence and horrible things. The human being is bad and he can’t sit through more than five minutes of happiness. Put him in a dark theater and ask him to look at two hours of happiness and he’d walk out or fall asleep.’ The modern movie director from South America however has barely commented on his film except to show his anger at the level of studio influence he encountered.
• And speaking of that- the 1984 version clearly knew it needed the higher rating to make its point about cinematic violence and as a result went for the 18 certificate with this in mind. Its 2014 counterpart to be fair to it initially aimed for the R rating but was cockblocked by the studio who insisted on a PG-13 ranking instead. Thus proving that they are just about as dumb as we all think. Of course, that’s totally outside the director’s control but …the film still suffers because of it and so makes it onto this list.
• Finally…and this has to be the winning argument…. In Sacramento, California a robbery suspect back in 1984 fled into a darkened movie theatre to escape pursuing police. He became so engrossed in the movie playing on screen, Robocop, that he failed to notice that police had evacuated all other patrons from the theatre. When the lights flipped on, the stunned man was taken into custody. And I mean, come on now…seriously…how can you argue with that?! That’s fried gold right there. Which means I win. Fact.