‘RoboCop’ returns with bigger explosions, bigger body counts

(AP/Columbia Pictures)

(AP/Columbia Pictures)

Well-versed fans of the RoboCop franchise and tech geeks may not be disappointed with the latest reboot of the 27-year-old cinema sensation.

This star-studded remake, currently on screens in Indonesia, has everything that made the original movie a classic — and which prompted the film’s inclusion on lists of all-time best movies by critics since its release in 1987.

Well, maybe not everything — there’s no attempted rape scene this time, and instead of Anne Lewis, police officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is partnered with Jack Lewis (Michael K. Williams).

Unlike Paul Verhoeven’s version, in the remake, which was directed by Brazilian José Padilha, the half-man half-robot cop has solid black suit with better weaponry and his (its?) own lightning-speed motorcycle.

Aside from more explosions, more powerful ED-209 drones and more than 30 people apparently killed when Murphy attacks the warehouse of ultimate villain Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow), this version of RoboCop gives a more human face to the story.

Some critics said that the original screenplay, the brainchild of Edward Neumeier, was far ahead of its time — and if anything has become more relevant today.

When Verhoeven’s RoboCop was released almost three decades ago, no one could believe that the Motor City might ever file bankruptcy — and that the facial-recognition technology would become a household occurence (I’m talking about phototagging on Facebook).

The original story, which was much more than a mere action film, embraced philosophical questions of man vs. machine and the public versus capitalists, politics, the media and justice.

The remake, however, is set 2028 in Detroit, when military technology conglomerate OmniCorp tries to sell its robot soldiers for civilian law enforcement to the government.

The only thing in its way is the Dreyfuss Act, which questions the presence of armed robots among the people.

CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) masterminds a plot to have congress reject the Dreyfuss Act by working with Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) to create a cyborg to make their product more acceptable.

At this time, Murphy, a Detroit cop, miraculously survives a bomb attack ordered by drug kingpin Vallon, although he loses most of his body parts and vital organs.

With the consent from his wife, Clara (Abbie Cornish), Murphy is transformed into RoboCop and programmed to execute orders to chase down the bad guys.

The one thing Norton misses from his program is that Murphy still has his emotions attached. As damage control, Norton alters his brain chemistry so that Murphy can no longer display any emotions.

The public, embodied by the media, loves RoboCop, although the same media airs the frustration of his family who is restrained from meeting Murphy.

The inevitable media bias is personified in the character of a television host, Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson), in a publicity stunt for OmniCorp.

The president was close to granting the conglomerate approval until Murphy got his emotions back after analyzing CCTV footage of his traumatized son, David (John Paul Ruttan), and his own attempted murder.

Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer/Columbia Pictures, the movie is reportedly cost US$130 million to make. In the first weeks of its release in Asia, the remake has booked $2.7 million.

RoboCop, which runs 118 minutes, will not leave the audience with unanswered questions — except whether they can expect a better sequel. The Jakarta Post

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