just have one word to say to any plans to remake Robocop: “Don’t!”
All throughout this year, MGM’s new management dropped
hints that a Robocop remake was in the
works. During the Cannes Film Festival MGM's new chairperson Mary Parent
stated that “Robocop would be great in 3-D.”
Although no official announcements regarding this
project have been made at the time of writing, it would seem that the movie is indeed a go
judging from a poster spotted at the recent 2008 Licensing Expo in New
York City. (See picture.)
Parent also mentioned that more Rocky sequels
were in the works as well as a remake of Red Dawn, that old hoary
chestnut about the U.S. being invaded by the Soviet Union and American
teenagers fighting off the Commies. (Who’s going to invade America this
time? North Korea? Cuba? Ha-ha!)
Who says Hollywood is creatively bankrupt? Not us.
After all, you have to be pretty darned creative to want to remake
Robocop – especially after Hollywood has already milked the franchise
to the last drop with two sequels (one featuring robot ninjas – hoo!),
endless animated and live action TV shows not to mention the countless
theme park rides, computer games and comic books based on the character.
Besides, they’re going to remake it in 3-D . . .
As you may have noticed from our sarcasm here, we’re
not actually thrilled at the thought of a Robocop remake. If there
is one movie that is not in need of a remake, it would be the original
1987 Robocop movie directed by Paul Verhoeven starring Peter
Weller, Dan O'Herlihy and Nancy Allen amongst others. And just to prove it
to ourselves, we tracked down the Region 2 DVD of this movie and gave it
"The 1980s hairstyles have dated . . . and that’s about it!"
To recap: Robocop is set in a near future
Detroit, a crime-ridden dystopia in which both capitalism and violent
criminals run amuck (even the police department is privatized!). One day a
police officer (Paul Weller) is brutally killed by some thugs and he is
“resurrected” as a part-man part-machine cyborg named Robocop. Pretty soon
Robocop – a mixture between The
Terminator and Dirty Harry - starts cleaning up the streets with a
Okay, to be fair: Robocop is only twenty years
old, but the 1980s hairstyles have dated rather badly . . . and that’s
about it! You can argue that the stop-motion effects used to bring the
robotic ED-209 to life is outdated and could be done better using CGI, but
that will be missing the point. The ED-209, which if you’ll recall blows
away a hapless exec during a board room demonstration gone wrong, is a
comic example of technology gone wrong. Its jerky stop-motion movements
just accentuate this – ED-209 is more funny than intimidating . . .
So what about Robocop himself? Wouldn’t he work better
as a CG character? Well, no. The 1980s makeup and animatronics give
Robocop a real world solidity that would be lacking in any
computer-generated character. But the special effects isn’t really the
point behind Robocop, and this what any remake will miss (and what
the sequels got wrong too).
point is that Robocop is a Paul Verhoeven film and that any remake
will simply miss out on the director’s trademark black humor and cynicism.
Like the director’s later Starship Troopers,
the original 1987 Robocop is a smart movie pretending to be dumb.
On the surface it is a kick-ass ultra-violent action
thriller about a robot hunting down psycho killers. But underneath it all
it is also a trenchant commentary on both Capitalism and human nature (the
corporate boardroom struggles are even more vicious than ones on the
lawless city streets). Robocop is pretty darned funny – if you have
a warped sense of humor, that is . . .
And it is this sort of thing that will probably
disappear in any remake for the 2000s. For starters, one can’t imagine any
new big budget blockbuster being as violent as the original was. Not when
there are licensing deals and toys to be sold. Any remake will probably
turn out to be the sort of movie spoofed in Robocop in the first
So: don’t f**k with Robocop, Hollywood! It’s a
modern classic after all . . .
UPDATE (11 January 2010): Internet reports have
it plans for a 3-D Robocop remake have been put on hold, partly because of its
financially troubled studio’s impending sale and partly because
attached director Darren (The Fountain, The Wrestler) Aronofsky
were at odds with the studio. The studio wanted a 3D movie using CGI while
the director didn’t much care for the technique and wanted special effects
to be “organic.”
Does this mean the end of the remake? Alas, no. We
suspect that whoever winds up as the new owners of MGM will ditch
Aronofsky (who, let’s face up to it, was an interesting choice for the
project!) and go ahead with a 3D movie utilizing crappy CG . . .