It isn’t always easy to detect when a movie is insulting its audience. Clever dialogue and well-produced action sequences can mask the middle finger on the screen. However, when a film is truly out to rob a crowd of moviegoers while giving them a wedgie, the intentions are most obvious.
RoboCop insult example 1 – After one of the most meaningless climaxes I’ve ever seen, we end NOT with our hero, but with an ancillary character played by Samuel L. Jackson. He speaks angrily to the camera, ticked at how the corporate plan failed. It all leads to him shouting his most famous catchphrase, “MOTHER F###ER!”, before signing off.
Chappelle would’ve made it better.
There were a few other shoe horned lines in the film, like “I WOULDN’T buy that for a dollar”, meant for the sole purpose of getting a cheer. This can be overlooked or even forgiven, as is the case with Star Trek Into Darkness. RoboCop fails at accomplishing this, because it has a low opinion of its viewers – assuming they’d prefer a cheap laugh over emotional engagement. The irony of it all is that what the original was making a statement against, the remake has become.
RoboCop insult example 2 – The end credits roll with I Fought the Law by The Clash playing over it. How I didn’t rip my hair out, I’ll never know. This is the tackiest of the tacky, and shows just how much “thought” and “effort” was put forth.
This is the first time I’ve ever started a review with the last beer. There are probably movies that are more deserving of such an “honor”, but it just felt like the best thesis for a piece on the RoboCop remake would be to describe the final moments of the film itself. Honestly, it summed up the whole shebang, for me anyways.
In this assembly line product, chucked out of the factory in a desperate attempt to make money, we get a toned down, yet sleeker-looking police officer in Alex Murphy. I call him by his full name because, unlike in the original, he is never a representation of the man / machine singularity – a new form of life, almost – but just a guy with a machine body. This is given to him by an opportunistic corporation as a PR ploy to change legislation regarding drone use domestically. 90 or so minutes of people talking about Alex go by, as do 90 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back.
Joel Kinnaman and Michael K. Williams are Alex Murphy and… Murphy’s partner. In the beginning, they go undercover and try to expose a gun running racket in town. They use words like “fishing” in aggressively street talkish fashion, and generally act like badass cops. Why couldn’t THIS be the movie? Their relationship is pretty friendly, with the partner quipping, after seeing Alex in his black robot outfit, “At least you’re the right color, now.”
Beers Two and Three
The word “drone” is thrown around a lot, specifically in the beginning, when Samuel L. Jackson’s show introduces a segment live from the Middle East. We see robots performing security checks, as the civilians look incredibly distressed. The camera crew, of course, spins this as a positive, showing either a detachment, an ignorance, or a crystal clear bias towards the amped up police state these folks live under, and whether it works or not. Sam Jackson cuts the feed as things get hairy, and finishes by segueing into the title.
This opening sequence was an attempt to set up some kind of topical message, probably because the original was a great commentary on society, and they wanted to continue that trend. Unfortunately, the production team only grasped this on a very superficial level. The original was, in many ways, fueled by and a product of Reagan era insanity and paranoia, much like They Live. Mass consumption, commercialization, dumbing down of the masses, ambivalence to violence – all were woven naturally into the fabric of the film, mostly because of the times. And it did all of this without wearing all of it on its sleeves. These elements were noticeable, but in the background. It was world building, and depended on the audience to notice these things and question for THEMSELVES on the meaning.
This new RoboCop took a topic from today’s news, associated it at the basest level with a story involving technology, rammed keywords down our throats, and forgot to follow through on why this is important. If this remake is fueled by and a product of modern times, what does it say about the times? Is this the undiagnosed/untreated ADHD era? Did the society depicted in the original come true?
Coming soon to Fox News.
Beers Four and Five
The original RoboCop was very much a Frankenstein like story. It was about a man rediscovering his humanity in a world at risk of losing its own. That, at the end of the day, is what made it all very compelling.
The remake RoboCop is very much a…
… well, it ends with the villains and the hero on the roof of a building. And something about dopamine levels? Wait – did I even watch a movie? Nothing really happens all that much, and more time is spent talking about RoboCop than showing RoboCop. Maybe this was a parody of those European art house flicks?
Insulting, boring, confused and uncompelling. Not quite painful, but pretty close. Remember in RoboCop 2, when those other experimental robots killed themselves? If you feel envy for them, please contact help immediately.
In all seriousness, you can get help.
Take a Drink: if you didn’t really think Michael Keaton was all that evil. Well, until that ending, anyways.
Take a Drink: when Alex first runs around in his mechanical body. Does it make you want to pop on Avatar?
Take a Drink: for each gunfight, if you’re planning in getting drunk.
Do a Shot: knowing that Hollywood won’t greenlight a sequel to Dredd, unless YOU demand it.
If you liked this and other reviews by Bill Arceneaux, check out patreon.com/neauxreelidea and find out how you can support his efforts in film criticism.