Dead or alive, you’re being remade: why there’s nothing sacrilegious about remaking RoboCop.
On one of my merry jaunts through the internet, I came upon this article, in which the author defends his choice of 1987’s RoboCop as his favourite film. Being a well-written, well-reasoned argument, I decided there and then that I would watch RoboCop to see if it was as good as the article claimed (sorry Nan, I know I was supposed to take you to the doctors, but those heart palpitations will have to wait).
A classic RoboCop may be, but timeless it is not
Despite the rather clumsy portmanteau title (it’s better than PoliceBot I suppose), RoboCop is massively entertaining, hilarious, unintentionally or otherwise, and so rammed with subtext concerning mass media and capitalism that the screen practically buckles at the joins. It pulls none of its punches; the violence is still shocking 26 years after its release, and its portrayal of a dilapidated and bankrupt Detroit is just as, if not more relevant today than in the 80s.
RoboCop is not without flaws. It suffers from the problem facing many 80s movies, in that they are inextricably tied to that somewhat chequered decade, through the music, special effects and production design. A classic RoboCop may be, but timeless it is not. The dialogue is also a little ripe; the line “Bitches, leave” is perhaps the greatest entrance into a room ever made, but does conjure shades of The Room, which may be deeply unkind or a massive compliment, depending on your outlook.
A movie with great ideas but slightly dodgy execution – sounds like a perfect candidate for a remake does it not? In 2014 we will be treated to just that, courtesy of Elite Squad director José Padilha, starring Joel Kinnaman (shrug), Michael Keaton (raised eyebrow), Gary Oldman (double eyebrows) and Samuel L Jackson (satisfied nod of approval). The trailer for the remake was recently released and, whilst you can’t judge a film based on its trailer, it does look very promising.
Raising timely issues of invasive technology and control, the RoboCop remake could be the Dredd of 2014
The trouble with recent movie remakes is that the ideas of the originals often get lost in the revamp; judging by the trailer, 2014’s RoboCop looks as though it has retained some of the themes of the original and brought some more of its own to the table. In a mere two minutes and 20 seconds, the trailer raises very timely issues of corporate influence, the creeping rise of invasive technology, control, all the way up to greater existential themes of quality of life and what it is to be alive. To say it channels Blade Runner is rather like saying The Beatles were an influential pop group.
We will have to wait until early next year to see if the RoboCop remake has any worth. However, things are looking positive so far. Die-hard RoboCop fans may object to the inevitable polishing and glitzy sheen applied to their dogged-yet-beloved original, but the film has every potential of being every bit as interesting and entertaining as the original. The Dredd of 2014? It certainly could be.
All images: MGM/Columbia