Friday, September 06, 2013

Robocop: The (trailer) review

A remake of Robocop. Sigh.

You knew this was coming, because the laws of physics practically demand it. Hollywood is rebooting every movie made between 1964 and 2010, and Robocop falls within that minuscule timeframe. And like 99 percent of those, um, creations, they exist due to one overarching factor:

Movie studios are in trouble (or think they are) and need to make money. Robocop is a cultural icon (or simply a badass justice cyborg, depending on whether or not the person has missed the point entirely). Therefore, a Robocop remake will bring hero-obsessed fanboys to the cinema. And much popcorn and SnoCaps will be bought.

I remember the first time I ever saw Robocop. Not the movie itself, but the life-size cutout of Peter Weller that stood proud in the movie-theater lobby as I walked in the other direction to see Roxanne with my mom. (Also a great movie, by the way. Not disparaging it one bit. I consider it a lost opportunity that I spoke with Daryl Hannah last year and didn't say, "Earn more sessions by sleeving!")

I had to wait another year to see Paul Verhoeven's masterpiece. The night it premiered on Showtime, my dad taped it for me, because I have awesome parents. The next morning — my first day of third grade — he let me watch the first two minutes of it before catching the bus. That tease totally overshadowed school, and I couldn't wait to rush home and watch the rest of it.

The movie had a profound effect on me. And by that I mean, I incorporated unimaginable violence and profanity into everything I did that year. My brother and I accentuated our usual horseplay with pretend dismemberment, leg-shooting and curse words we didn't understand. A girl friend and I became a recess cop team like Murphy and Lewis, and I imagined us busting up mountains of cocaine in the schoolyard (there wasn't much). I drew pictures of bad guys getting mutilated by worse guys. I told my mom I wanted to grow up to be a "murderer murderer." That Christmas, I got a Pound Puppy and named him Clarence.

But there were positives as well. Combined with my newfound love for the Hardy Boys, Robocop inspired me to write (or at least draft) a series of police stories. I know who Lee Iacocca is because my brother laughed at "Lee Iacocca Elementary School" and I wanted in on the joke. I came to appreciate my family more because I realized they could get shot in the head at any moment by Kurtwood Smith.

Most importantly, I learned to avoid vats of toxic waste. That has served me well in life.

My point is, Robocop (and its sequels, which I also like) has a deep-rooted canon to me and fellow fans. The remake has a lot to live up to. Even if its story is entirely different, it should offer at least some glimpse of the brilliant satire that, as much as the cyborg itself, made the original such an enduring classic. 

Somehow, I doubt that will happen. Slam-bang is the rule these days, because robot explosions are the world's universal language.

Still, after watching the trailer, I'm actually excited about one aspect: this Robocop is not back from the dead and doesn't appear to have an erased memory. This offers a great chance to explore the dynamics of such an enduring familial relationship, as well as the politics of a megacorporation turning a human being into a drone.

But ultimately, this exchange from Robocop 3 will most likely sum it up:

Bertha: "Where the hell is Robocop?"

Moreno: "Well, we could drive around and listen for explosions."

Either way, and I almost hate to say it, I'll be there.

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