The upcoming Robocop, whatever you want to call it, has been through awful lot of bad press and I intend to give it some more bad reputation based on the trailer that was released some time ago. While I did say that I’d quit following the news and other information on the movie, the trailer peaked my interest because I had heard few details of it that I had been worrting about.
First of all, the trailer itself is your standard modern Hollywood action movie and you see all of it in the trailer. It shows everything right now, right there. Nothing is left in the dark, nothing is left for the movie to tell. I can’t see any reasons to pay anything for the movie at this point. We see Alex Murphy before he is carbombed, we see his wife and family going all stupid because what she consented for and we see the man vs. machine thing that is supposed to be the director’s film between the events in the original film.
Secondly, the whole Murphy family business going on is nothing short of bullshit. Alex Murphy was a family man, a loving husband and a good father. Robocop, the cyborg that was built from the remains of passed Alex Murphy, has nothing to do with this family. It seems that we’ve lost one of the strongest character in the franchise, officer Anne Lewis. She was a strong character and was written to be a loyal police officer who would uphold the law without giving up her ideals. She went into trouble without little to no backup and tackled challenges head on. Lewis wasn’t a great female character, she was a great character. She was written on the same level as any other character and her part in the movie was huge and impacted greatly on Robocop’s growth. Nancy Allen was a great damn actor for the role to boot. In the new Robocop’s trailer, Lewis is nowhere to be seen . There’s no hint of her and there appears to be no character that could be her. Instead, Alex Murphy’s wife is the main female actor here. Actually, after quickly checking the IMDB, it seems that Anne Lewis is replaced with a black man, officer Jack Lewis. This is a huge Fuck You to anyone who appreciate the original film even a little bit. They actually went and changed the dynamics of the whole story. They replaced an important character with a goddamn blackface version of her and lifted Murphy’s wife, a distressed woman with a child who wants her husband back, into the spotlight. To quote my friend, this kind of obsession on one-strong-woman-character modern writers have is insanely stupid. A good character is not dependent on the sex. It’s there to bring in some flavour and tone, but a well written character will work well as both. If you want a strong woman character, you first write her strong, then a woman. Same with men. That said, Jack Lewis could be a good character nevertheless, but he won’t be. He exists solely to cater to the old fans and failing in it, because there was no reason to change Anne into Jack in the first place. There won’t be any proper dynamics between Black Lewis and RoboMurphy because that’s reserved for Mrs. Murphy, and that’s where a rub lies; Murphy’s never dies.
That, and it seems that Lewis is gunned down in the trailer. Another middle finger to everybody.
The fact that Alex Murphy never dies is driven through in the trailer. And that’s also a huge point missed about the story. Even according to Verhoeven, Robocop is a Jesus story. There is life, violent death and resurrection. You have a normal guy who is killed because of what he believes in only to have his remains used as the core components in the Robocop project, and thus finally he walks on water as a whole new being. That is the core of the Robocop story. The new movie, according to the trailer, is that a detective gets hit by a car bomb, barely survives and his wife gives a consent to rebuild his body into a cyborg and that’s missing all the points. It took around a year for the tech crew to build Robocop in the original and Alex Murphy was dead the moment he was brought into the ward. His family was notified of this and they moved on. The fact that Alex Murphy dies is an important point. He doesn’t get revived. Even the movie makes this point; Robocop has all the skills and years of experience of a street police officer. As much as Robocop is Murphy’s avatar, Murphy is someone Robocop needs to recognize itself as in order to not go completely batshit insane. Not only that, but the new movie misses a point why a dead man was used; the new Murphy goes all berserk after seeing what was done to him without his own consent that his wife gave instead. Original Robocop was a machine-man becoming a man-machine, where humanity was given another life under the skin of metal, whereas the new one is a man with a robot body, partially controlled by the software. The skull is a highly important point here, because it is there where we see the difference between the two; one fusion of both, a machine with a man’s face and heart, whereas the other is a man with a helmet. The face we see on Murphy in the original film is stretched on a metal skull and the make up is still great and makes you wonder how the hell they managed to pull it off.
Compare the above to the new Robocop suit.
Blame it on reliance on CGI or whatever, but the difference between the two is enormous. The new one is just a man in a suit, and you won’t believe it any other way. It doesn’t help that the flick tries to convince you otherwise with that What kind of suit is this? Murphy, it’s not a suit, it’s you lines. Horrible writing can’t be helped with mediocre acting, and you can see Samuel L. just going in, doing his shit and then getting out.
Anyway, why would you want to concentrate on the dynamics of the Murphy family? Because the director, who clearly didn’t get the original movie, wanted so. If his movie takes place between the cutting table and Murphy’s resurrection in the original film’s terms, how the hell he has managed to mangle everything up this badly? That time period was basically the engineering and doctor teams working on his body to realize the Robocop project. Actually, I’d love to see that story and all the little details that went wrong and all the big things that went even worse. How Robocop first acted when he got activated consciously the first time, how much Murphy was there before they got the desired result?
We also have the bad guy robots, basically completely automated Robocop counterparts, androids. And ED-209 that now looks the best thing in the flick and that’s not said much. Now the question is if they have the ability to make a completely automated system that works damn well and have the ready resources to mass produce the android Robocops, why the hell there is any reason to involve a man with the machine? It’s a ready loophole that makes no sense and the flick can’t offer any sort of satisfactory explanation. If they say that they based the MP Robocops on Murphy’s new body and software, that’s bullshit. That would mean that the flick would happen over three years time or so, starting with the Robocop project, continuing with the MP Robo designing and unveiling, and then producing and fielding them. Yet, the trailer has no hints progression of time. It doesn’t even help that the MP Robos are mook enemies and will me slaughtered en mass, as the trailer shows them going down by snapping their necks. Unless the MP Robos use human brains and spine cords as well, which would go against the press releases thus far, there’s no reason why they should go down because their head was snapped off. A good military or police grade android unit would still function despite decapitation of any kind, and they would have a far superior armouring and different design.
Speaking of those designs, they suffer from what I call Flimsy Shit syndrome. It comes to where you have seemingly sturdy mechanical design, but when met with a hit, debris and shrapnel fly everywhere. Iron Man 3 had the same syndrome, where a broken part would shatter into millions of pieces. Same here, as RoboMurpy snaps one of MP Robos head, you can see sparks and shrapnel fly everywhere. I’m sure the MP ED-209 in the movie will suffer the same fate. It doesn’t help that everything in this film looks generic, from the air-drones to the MP Robos. ED-209 was one of the most unique mechanical opponents anywhere, and it was part of the character to see it as such a hard failure. There was a reason it was never mass produced, and if in the new flick they managed to get AD-209 right, why the hell they did everything else worse? There’s also the glowing iPad thing that Murhpy’s son uses. It’s a bad sign of bad Future Vision, when every day objects are turned into Light-MacGlow versions of themselves. Not even Star Trek or Star Wars went there, but dear me how many other science fiction stories just add needless thingamajigs having bullshit LED lights everywhere to make it more future-y. A proper concept design for the future takes everything we have right now and creates a solid, advanced concept based on existing technology and how that technology could advance. It takes a lot of research and work, a thing that most designers just want to avoid and something on the paper they see fit. That’s how you get glowing iPads. Hell, not even the LACRS pads in Star Trek The Next Generation were this badly designed. Actually, they were designed incredibly well, considering concept for a computer pad was just… science fiction. Huh.
I want this new Robocop to even try to discuss what it means to be a human and the relationship of man-machine hybrids with their surroundings. I wanted it to discuss what it means to die and contrast it to life. What we’re getting is yet another half-assed discussion of free will. What is it with writers and not wanting to discuss a difficult matters with cybernetics and humanity? It’s an issue that we will need to bring out as bionics advance and we’re going to get people with artificial body parts. It’s just a matter of time when we will see people with more bionics than natural bionic mass.
The thing that most irks me is that because of how this movie came to be, it’s not Robocop. A story has a set of parameters for what happens in it and the flow of the story is the same from retelling to retelling. Some small details may change, but the most important parts and marks are always there. Romeo and Juliet has seen immense amounts if of films and adaptations and they all use that name because it’s the same story. This Robocop is not story of Robocop because it doesn’t follow the story it’s supposed to be about. If this was called by any other name, it would smell like Warhol’s dead, worm infested rotten body.
The trailer wasn’t for a Robocop movie, it was a trailer to a movie inspired by Robocop. That’s a huge damn difference between the two.