Robocop, 1987: Well give the Man a Hand!

 

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Hello and welcome to part 12 of my journey into science-fiction. The last film I looked at was The Man Who Fell to Earth and today’s film Robocop has to be somehow linked to the previous film in some way. If you like to find out what that connection is? Simply please click on the link above.

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I have watched Robocop before, multiple times in fact, and it’s definitely a childhood favourite of mine. Directed by Paul Verhoeven written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner, Robocop is a dystopian tale that is set in a crime-ridden Detroit City. Alex Murphy Peter Weller is one of the many cops that have been killed in action in this difficult time, the only problem is, Murphy is coming back as a powerful cyborg. Unfortunately for some cop killers, he hasn’t forgotten what has happened to him. The film was released in July 1987 and become an instant hit, reaching No.1 at the box office and making $8 million dollars in its opening week. I would say it’s become quite a cult classic but I think it’s become something a lot bigger than that. After the first film followed two sequels, a television show and a couple of animated series. In 2014 the franchise was rebooted but never really matched the success of its predecessor. More bizarrely is the fact we have had a Theme Park Attraction, Robocop has his own statue in the Michigan Science Centre in Detroit and today I learnt the franchise is currently being used as part of a promotion for Kentucky Fried Chicken in the USA, the mind boggles at just how this violent and quite graphic film slipped into mainstream popular culture so easily.

I’m not really going deep on the story of this film but just discuss how I remember it as a child and see if I have learnt anything new about it as an adult. Okay, so what attracted me so much to this film as a child? Well, Robocop himself, he looked mind-blowing, exciting and pretty much caught my imagination, just as he does today. They pretty much nailed it when creating this suit for Peter Weller, also his acting skills in bringing his character to life. I still forget there is an actor in that suit, and with the added sound effects, simply breathtaking.

As much as this film is violent, I felt the comedy almost desensitised it, in a good way I mean as the only thing I remember is repeating some of those classic one-liners that still hold up today. “Can you fly Bobby?” was always a favourite of mine. I didn’t know much about the Reagan administration when I was younger so the satirical part of the film went over my head a little back then, but again, it was all pretty funny stuff, those commercials are a work of art on their own. “I’d buy that for a dollar!”

Seriously, there is so much in this film to love. ED209 is a magnificent creation and his design was so appealing and amazing to watch. It’s only over the last decade that I have started to learn more about Phil Tippett the man has worked on most of my favourite films, what a genius. Finally, the toxic waste sequence is probably one of my favourite moments in cinema history, I do seem to remember acting out that one a few times amongst friends (you know you have tried it yourself) simply skin meltingly magnificent!

I said earlier that I have watched this film many times, many times a very long time ago though. I’m pretty sure it’s 15 years ago that I had last watched it and Wow! This film is still stunning, and for more reasons that it used to be. Don’t get me wrong I still love all those elements I enjoyed before, but this film is also giving me something greater to look at, the religious theme and how Robocop is a modern day American Jesus, with guns of course! It’s basically all there, paradise lost, the resurrection and by the end, he’s even walking on water. As you get older you start to think more about life and your place in the universe, coping with loss and finding joy, I definitely thought more about the impact this had on Murphy’s life and it has made the film so much deeper for me.

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I also get the political satire now, same shit, different century. I also think the casting for this film was great and apart from Peter Weller, I found Kurtwood Smith as Clarence J. Boddicker equally impressive, his acting in this role is beyond amazing and he is still as creepy as he was in 1987. Omni Consumer Products, also known as OCP also sits better with me now as we do seem to be coming towards a future that is ran by a handful of major companies, let’s hope they don’t become, practically military. The fight for power using corruption and greed is shown very well between Dick Jones Ronny Cox and Bob Morton Miguel Ferrer and as drastic as this fight gets you can still see snippets of this type of rivalry across many workplaces in the world. “You call this a glitch?” what a classic line.

There are certain films for me that manage to escape the realms of time, Star Wars and Blade Runner amongst that list, and now Robocop. It’s aged pretty well in my eyes and still manages to keep you involved in the story.  I guess it’s like catching lightning in a bottle and everyone involved in the making of a film are all doing something amazing, you are lucky if you have one or two of those things but when everything is right, it creates something beyond anyone’s expectations, just my guess anyway. I really think Paul Verhoeven is an amazing director and some of the shots in this film are excellent, the way he sets up the scenes that show Robocop’s point of view are still top notch. I enjoy his science-fiction films a hell of a lot, so I think it’s time I tried some of his other work. I really could keep praising this forever as there are some many layers to it, it’s dark, witty memorable and one I seriously enjoyed writing about and watching again. The soundtrack still sounds amazing by Basil Poledouris like I said, everything still works for this film. Last night I tried to watch Robocop 2 after this and unfortunately, it’s not a patch on this film and only cements my thoughts on how unique this film actually is.

51BufsDT9GLAnyway, I hope you enjoyed reading this and come back and join me next time for my Journey into science-fiction part 13. Usually, I pick a couple of different routes I could take next for my next review but this next choice is a no-brainer as this is a film that has eluded me all my life. Peter Weller takes me to my next journey and that is to The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai across the 8th Dimension and I have no idea what to expect! I’m just so happy that I finally get to watch it after all these years as I have heard great things about it. Again, many thanks and I will be back soon.

What are your thoughts on Robocop? I would really like to hear what you think about the cyberpunk film. Let me know in the comments section below.

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My Journey into Science-Fiction Archives.

 

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