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.
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.