“Dead or alive, you’re coming with me,” a synthetic voice says, commanding a criminal to surrender. Or a more human voice determined to take down the main antagonist, the major difference between the 1987 “Robocop” film and its 2014 remake is the dose of humanity added to the main character.
Both movies follow Alex Murphy as he is transformed into Robocop, “half man, half machine, all cop.” Unfortunately this is where the films diverge into two different entities. Starting with the look of Robocop. In the original, Robocop was a big and lumbering robotic entity with a synthesized voice that struck fear into the hearts of criminals, especially those who previously in the story had killed him. Robocop version two is a thinner, sleeker Robocop with a coating of black paint, a red visor and an exposed human hand.
This is an egregious mistake, as a fan of the original “Robocop” I feel completely isolated because of this new foreign design. It’s almost like the directors wanted to make the film to contain as little of the original Robocop as possible in the design. Even though I do not like it, I can see why they choose this new design. The producers were trying to modernize the character, they added things like a color scheme reminiscent of the popular “Dark Knight” trilogy. To create a more 3-D character, they added in human aspects such as keeping Murphy’s family in the film.
Originally, Alex Murphy, on his first day in the Detroit police department, was shot and killed while attempting to arrest Clarence Boddicker. Omni Consumer Products (OCP) then decides to turn Murphy into Robocop, their first venture into law enforcement products. OCP was a company with a behind the scenes agenda to rebuild Detroit solely for profit. In order to rebuild Detroit, OCP had to wash away the crime from the city. The remake drops this classic plot line for a completely different story that changes two main characters, the man who murdered Alex Murphy, Clarence Boddicker and Anne Lewis.
There is no good reason for this. Antoine Vallon, Murphy’s killer in the remake, fills so many of the roles that Clarence Boddicker did that Vallon might as well be Boddicker. Vallon is less interesting and has a slight profession change. This detail serves to isolate people like me from caring about the film. There is no fan service in the film. Changing the gender of a major character is another great way to take elements of the original film out of the remake. In the original, Anne was a strong female character which was and still is a very uncommon thing in movies. The director could have done so much more with this character by changing the gender of previously female character. It would have created something a little more compelling to watch.
The director even changed the setting of the film. Instead of using the crime-ridden Detroit known by the citizens of the original “Robocop,” the directors used what looked like any other city. Shedding the crime focus of the original. At that point they might as well have taken the “cop” out of Robocop. He does very little on screen policing in the remake. Instead the film aims its sights on OCPs actions outside of the United States and the laboratories where Robocop refuels. I would not mind this shift in focus if the Detroit at least looked like it was filled with enough crime to warrant a new form of law enforcement, there is not even graffiti on the buildings.
The original “Robocop” was a movie full of humor and jabs towards consumerism. Displayed mostly through fake commercials in the original film had a theme of corporations losing their humanity and becoming robotic, corrupt villains. OCP had just as much ties to crime as it did to Robocop’s creation. The new film opted instead for a theme of what it means to be human and what separates man from machine. Both themes are evident in the original but fell behind the other themes of the movie. I do not think the theme change leaves as much as an impact as the original it has been covered before in movies like Terminator 2 or the Matrix. Another disappointing thing about the film is the lack of humor. The original “Robocop” film displayed its core themes through parody and tongue-and-cheek humor. They got you to laugh at very real things before transitioning to the action parts of the film. In the remake, they just moved between parts of quiet to parts of action losing the vibes of the original film.
The remake has lost what made the original film great. That is why I have troubles seeing the reboot as a proper remake, all they kept was the name of the main character while adding a few things that actually detracted from the character. They added a sense of humanity by having his family in the movie and by doing so they took a piece of Robocop’s significance with it. They modernized him with a new appearance that looked more like Batman than Robocop. Every decision they made felt like a way to distance remake from original in a bad way that turns the movie into a generic action movie to be forgotten and not worthy of the title “Robocop.”
“Excuse me, I have to go. Somewhere there is a crime happening.”