February 25, 2014

Podcast Episode 7: ROBOCOP In Name Only

"Wanna feel it?"
Paul Verhoeven's original Robocop is one of my absolute favorite films.  It is, quite simply, perfect.  More importantly, it's a movie that is so much more than the sum of its parts.  Sure it's ultraviolent and pulpy, but it's also one of the best single critiques of Reagan-era politics and the rise of corporate power and influence that I've ever seen committed to film.  The fact that it's also a shining beacon of both practical and stop-motion effects is merely the icing on the cake.

Robocop is lightning in a bottle, so the idea of trying to recreate it seems foolhardy at best, idiotic at worst.  Thankfully director Jose Padilha seemed to realize this from the outset and instead uses the idea of a police officer turned corporately-owned cybernetic enforcer and uses it as a springboard to examine drone warfare policies, the struggle between humanity and machinery, and the concept of free will.  Those are all interesting, worthy sci-fi concepts and I appreciate that Padilha is bringing something new to the table and not taking the easy route by mindlessly regurgitating familiar dialogue and mimicking similar action beats like the dismal remake of Verhoeven's Total Recall.

I just wish he hadn't done it under the banner of Robocop.

If Padilha hadn't been hamstrung trying to fit into the box of a pre-existing property, he might have had a little more room to explore those heady topics in a more satisfying manner.  Instead he's stuck "updating the character" and dwelling upon the emo side of Alex Murphy, two things that no fan of Robocop (a.k.a. the target audience) really gives a shit about.  I actually wish this had just been an original story, because if it didn't come with all sorts of preconceptions, expectations and emotional baggage it might have been quite interesting.  It's not a bad movie...it's just not Robocop.

In the seventh episode of our podcast, Bart and I discuss all this in greater depth while also trying to figure out why the character Robocop is barely the protagonist of his own movie, why Michael Keaton was so tragically squandered and why the hell they didn't just lose the arm.  We also chat about the first trailer for Guardians Of The Galaxy, the freshly minted cast of Fantastic Four, and why it's probably a good thing that Marvel isn't in charge of all their marquee properties.

I'm really happy about the way the podcast has continued to evolve and I'm particularly proud of this episode, which is our longest one yet by a full 36 seconds.  We laid down one more episode this weekend that I'm REALLY excited about.  Hopefully I'll be able to get it out before I hit movie 365 at the end of the week.  And after my Final Screening event this Saturday night, Bart and I are planning on putting out roughly one podcast episode a week, so I hope you're enjoying these recordings as much as we are.

Title: Robocop
Director: Jose Padilha
Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Abby Cornish, Jackie Earle Haley, Michael K. Williams, Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle
Year Of Release: 2014
Viewing Method: Theatrical - AMC Boston Common

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