A Brief Review of the New ‘Robocop’ Film Now in Cinimas

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I went to see the new Robocop film last night, and I have to admit that given that I was apprehensive at first when I first heard that they were doing this, I was pleasantly surprised. After all, I am such a huge fan of the original, and the very thought of a remake left an awful taste in my mouth. It is important, however, that you view the original 1987 masterpiece and the 2014 remake as two completely separate films with their own points to make.

When it comes to remakes, a lot of people tend to go up in arms because of some impeachment on their generation’s territory. Often than not it is viewed as a great insult, but it is worth mentioning that some remakes are superior to their original counterparts. David Cronenberg’s The Fly, John Carpenter’s The Thing, and Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of The Body Snatchers, are all much better versions, in my opinion, due to the direction in which they took to communicate a number of important issue across to a then modern audience. The 2014 Robocop, does not fit this rule, however there are many point of it that I liked.

Samuel L. Jackson’s O’Reilly-esque performance in the remake is truly amazing and re-affirms an element of satire that funs throughout the original. In particular the influence of a one-sided, agenda-driven media that precipitates a certain type of thinking.

In this case, we want machines to walk amongst us and police our streets. 

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Whereas the original is more concerned with the power and influence of a mass-corporation that privatises the local police department, and whose products seep through to every aspect of that society. There are no bombardment of advertisements running through the remake as there were in the original, which also added to the feel of the world that we were observing where misogynistic television personality are a house hold name with much loved lines as ‘I’d buy that for a dollar.’

The remake is not a piece of satire, or the exploration of the human mind and soul (although these elements exist) but a question of ethics which the original does not seem to pick up. It depicts the developments of these invasive technologies, and explores more the moral concerns that we face in our rapidly developing technological world. We are uncomfortable with self-service checkouts in supermarkets, so the last thing that we want is a robotic police department, and the remake manages to pose these issues clearly and thoughtfully as it demonstrates the lengths that a corporation and its individuals will go to market a product that is morally outrageous, and inhumane.

The effects are also fantastic, however, I found the character of Murphy in the remake to be much more difficult to empathise with than I did Peter Weller’s performance in Verhoeven’s masterpiece, because the original depicts that Murphy has quite literally lost everything in his life which is beautifully represented when he walks through his old home, now abandoned with an electronic estate agent discussing each room as he entered. The crackled static memories begin to seep through to truly heart breaking effects as Murphy begins to remember his past life.

I don’t want to give too many things away and spoil this for anybody so I recommend that you go and see it yourself and judge what you think. If you have yet to see the original then flip that rock off of your back and go and see Verhoeven’s 1987 classic which, in my opinion, is still much superior in terms of storytelling then the 2014 remake.

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J.G. Ballard’s ‘Crash’ – Review

I was around fourteen years of age when I first came into contact with J.G. Ballard. My copy of Crash was then fresh and unturned, but now sits appropriately battered beside me. The spine cracked and the pages stained with wine. You could certainly say that it is loved.

The very mention of the title is enough to make complete strangers look upon you as though you had killed their lover in a head on collision but fail to be excited by the prospect that something unusual is happening internally. Ballard himself once had the novel rejected by a publisher who added that the author is beyond any form of psychiatric help and so must, under no circumstances be published. Thank somebody that it did.

Those who have never read Crash, but have heard of it, tend to be the most vocal about what lies within the content. It is a highly sexualised novel with consistently disturbing descriptions throughout which slice open the human condition with a scalpel to glance at the effect that media saturation has on the mind and the body.

We live in a world were violent images are far more easily accessible than they once were, in particular, Ballard wrote the novel when home video entertainment was relatively new and never before were people able to see graphic material from the comfort of their armchairs.  Crash successfully demonstrates how being bombarded with images alters the way in which we view them due to the constant repetition of descriptions of ‘lungs of elderly men punctured by door-handles; the chests of young women impaled on steering-columns; the cheek of handsome youths torn on the chromium latches of quarter-lights.’

These descriptions are disturbing at first, but sooner or later, as you continue to read the novel, you will start to feel something incredibly odd and disturbing happening within you as the reader. You become desensitised in very much the same way the news reels soon lose their effect as members of the public are often heard to show the disinterest in stories that have been running for over a week. Ballard shows our very need for fresh sensations by using the extreme situation of the car crash.

J.G. Ballard’s narrator, also named Ballard is shown to be disconnected, as do all of the characters, from the world around him. He and his wife, Catherine, are only able to achieve orgasm by informing each other about their affairs as their own bodies have already been explored, and thus seize to arouse any interest whatsoever. It is only after a car crash, were Ballard collides head on with the car of Dr Helen Remmington and catapulting the body of her husband through the windscreen and ending his life. These events spark a sensation and trigger a series of events where Remmington and Ballard begin to explore these new drives that they now have, awakened by the contact and near death experience.

They join other alienated car crash victims lead by Robert Vaughn, a former TV science scientist who carries an almanac of wounded individuals whose very lives are now changed forever.

The exploration of the human condition runs throughout this book, and it is incredibly easy to take the content for its literal content, however it is much more than a novel about sex and car crashes, it is a novel of endless possibilities all represented within chaos and alienation.

A truly masterful piece of writing that should defiantly be given a chance before jumping to conclusions.