The Big Picture: Why Robocop Still Rules

Dandres

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I liked all the Robcop movies when I was a kid and am keeping positive about the new one.
 

Rangerboy87

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Didn't see Robocop until much later in life...I had a dad who saw it and made sure my bro and I didn't until much later (how late...well I was able to go "Holy crap it's Foreman's dad from That 70's Show"...no wonder he always talks about kicking ass)...but even before I saw it, I knew Robocop and loved Robocop...he was badass and awesome...but while I admit the movie is good, I have never it as this big epic others like Bob see it (plus that mutant still creeps me out today and I can't watch it...ugh...thanks for the heads up Bob...gave me time to cover my eyes)

Can't wait to see the review

P.S. I'm surprised Bob didn't mention the very PG Robocop show (which is where I got my fix) and tie-in tv movies
 

Klaflefalumpf

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Now this is an interesting one, the old playground argument was who was better: Robocop or Terminator. (Good job Sega was on hand to give us a game where Robocop mows down endless terminators!)

I was a huge Terminator fan as a kid so when I finally saw Robocop I was strongly biased against it, although having watching it in my teens I appreciated it a lot more. I should probably watch it again now and see how it compares.

Also, as bad as Robocop 3 was (jetpack, ffs) at least it wasn't the TV Series: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RoboCop:_The_Series

EDIT: Out of interest, what caused the 90s Japanophobia in the US? I hadn't really noticed it until Bob mentioned it. In the 40s sure, but the 90s seems an odd time for a resurgence.
 

Bbleds

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Great topic, I saw the movie when I was much older expecting a cheesy 80's action flick. When I started thinking about why the movie was so hilarious, I realized it wasn't necessarily "so bad it's good" but the humor seemed purposeful and was very pleasantly surprised how enjoyable it was. Aside from the satire and the intentional "over the top" scenes, there is something I interpreted differently from this film.

You may argue that Robocop "reclaimed" his humanity through his journey, but I always had a bleaker view. I agree he tried, but did he succeed? During the movie, it is blatantly obvious (to say the least) that the human cop, Alex Murphy, died. Robocop is a whole different entity. Sure he starts getting some memories, but the movie is pretty ambiguous about what this means by never actually stating they are anything more. "Murphy" may have not been coming back, the cyborg just started getting some data about Murphy and his injustice. Another bit of evidence are his actions, he carries out his revenge more like a command directive. He mercilessly slaughters almost everyone, of course he has a very good reason for it, but if "Murphy" was coming back, wouldn't they show it through maybe a little hesitation or starting to feel something? That is just another idea, main point is I never knew if our awesome cyborg enforcer was, as another forum poster put it, a human with machine parts or a machine with human parts. And I like it that way.
 

BarelyAudible

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Klaflefalumpf said:
Now this is an interesting one, the old playground argument was who was better: Robocop or Terminator. (Good job Sega was on hand to give us a game where Robocop mows down endless terminators!)

I was a huge Terminator fan as a kid so when I finally saw Robocop I was strongly biased against it, although having watching it in my teens I appreciated it a lot more. I should probably watch it again now and see how it compares.

Also, as bad as Robocop 3 was (jetpack, ffs) at least it wasn't the TV Series: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RoboCop:_The_Series

EDIT: Out of interest, what caused the 90s Japanophobia in the US? I hadn't really noticed it until Bob mentioned it. In the 40s sure, but the 90s seems an odd time for a resurgence.
Short Version: Japanese businesses, especially the auto industry, were doing very well and poised to kick their US counterpart's ass. That's why we talked about Japan then the way we talk about China now.
 

Therumancer

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Hmmm, well I have mixed opinions on the subject like usual. "Robocop" on it's own is a very good movie, and the sequels were largely just cash ins that never really "got" what made the first one so popular and decreased in quality, I can agree with that.

Honestly, I think part of that made "Robocop" work was simply that OCP weren't really the bad guys in an absolute sense, even if they did some bad things. It wasn't that "the bad guys already won" per se. At the end of the day OCP was out to make money, but it's plans weren't all that bad either. OCP ultimately wanted to do away with urban blight, quell the crime problem, and make Detroit a better place to live. This being despite the fact that Detroit is a festering hell hole full of out of control crime, which the police, for all their resentment of becoming employees of OCP, simply cannot control on their own. On a lot of levels tearing everything down and making the city better for a lot more people is not an ignoble goal no matter how much they stand to profit from it.

What I think happened with the second and third movies, was that they decided that they needed to go more left wing, with the corporation being made flat out bad, and siding with all of the people that are going to get stepped on by this program. They seem to themselves forget the very same cyberpunk reality that justified the creation of Robocop and a corporation even being able to consider releasing what amounts to robotic tanks on the street for a reason. It never seems to really be able to explain why a city in the midst of an ongoing gang war/riot where Robocop is pretty much blowing people's faces off every 15 seconds to maintain anything even approaching order, should have us empathizing with these scumbags that the corporation wants to clear out. It seems like most of the normal people in the city are likely to wind up benefitting from this, after all you can't have a city if your going to pretty much carpet bomb everyone. Robocop 3, the worst one in the series, seemed to have the most problem with this whole concept where to try and sell this they had scenes of some dude getting an eviction notice, and then sitting down in an EZ chair right before a wrecking ball comes through the roof (or something close to that, it's been a while, but I remember the scene as being absolutely hilarious especially seeing as your presumably supposed to take this as a serious threat). The movie also as a finale has the police making a stand against corporate security on behalf of all these "poor defenseless folks" sort of forgetting the world they are supposed to be in, and what the police station/situation looked like pre-Robocop.

Honestly while I could be forgetting something from the movies where this point was brought up and dismissed, I seem to remember it wasn't until the less-than-wonderful Robotcop cartoons that they really decided to focus on the whole issue of Murphy and OCP pretty much wanting exactly the same thing: a better Detroit. The areas of the city basically being lawless regions full of violent human waste, the main difference being that Robocop runs around shooting them in the head one at a time, where OCP wants to clear them out all at once and rebuild afterwards.

In short you had some potential to ask some really good questions here, the kind of thing that comes up once in a while in "Judge Dredd" stories (which seemed to inspire this, along with Cyberpunk fiction that was still a cult thing at this point), and it was squandered in favor of turning it into an unambigious face off between good guys and bad guys, and me occasionally wondering why it was that the bad guys seemed to be the only ones with anything approaching long term goals or an achievable objective. I mean I'd probably prefer to live in "Delta City" than risk getting murdered every time I stepped out to get a quart of milk, I never forgot the world that justified the rest of that ultra-violence Robocop was engaged in and seemed to have no hesitations about unless OCP was involved and the plot demanded it.

-

As far as the Japanaphobia thing goes all I have say is "huh?" to be honest the evil Japanacorp was a stock villain in cyberpunk fiction and seemed to be sort of a nod to "Bubblegum Crisis" and it's Genom corporation which was one of the things that helped make the evil corporation into a stock villain in the media (though I'd have to check the specific dates, I know Genom inspired a lot of stuff in the genere, Robocop might have pre-dated it). I was mostly disappointed that we never got to have a really good fight between Robocop and the Android Ninja(s) he kind of just got his butt kicked.

I kind of figured that if somehow Robocop 3 didn't kill the franchise (which it did) they were leading into a sequel where you were going to have two megacorporate private armies duking it out in the destroyed streets left and right, and really... what's more "Cyberpunk" than that?

At any rate if we ever somehow get more "Judge Dredd" movies, perhaps we'll finally get to see some good cyberpunk law enforcement stories, and see the movies the Robocop sequels never were. Until they we'll have to settle for "Almost Human" which seems to be gearing up more for a mechanical revolt storyline (yawn) sooner than anything dealing with the morality of urban blight and renewal. Of course at the same time "Almost Human" doesn't have a world as out of control as "Robocop" or Dredd's "Megacity-1" for it to carry the same kind of weight.
 

Metalrocks

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yes, robocop is pretty awesome. i was also a kid when i watched it and was a bit shocked to see so much blood compared to the cartoon series i used to watch before. i think my parents dint know that its that gory because they hardly watch movies.
lol.
 

Therumancer

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BarelyAudible said:
Klaflefalumpf said:
Now this is an interesting one, the old playground argument was who was better: Robocop or Terminator. (Good job Sega was on hand to give us a game where Robocop mows down endless terminators!)

I was a huge Terminator fan as a kid so when I finally saw Robocop I was strongly biased against it, although having watching it in my teens I appreciated it a lot more. I should probably watch it again now and see how it compares.

Also, as bad as Robocop 3 was (jetpack, ffs) at least it wasn't the TV Series: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RoboCop:_The_Series

EDIT: Out of interest, what caused the 90s Japanophobia in the US? I hadn't really noticed it until Bob mentioned it. In the 40s sure, but the 90s seems an odd time for a resurgence.
Short Version: Japanese businesses, especially the auto industry, were doing very well and poised to kick their US counterpart's ass. That's why we talked about Japan then the way we talk about China now.
Not quite, Japan was always under US occupation so never represented the kind of threat that China's military build up does. Not to mention the whole situation inherent in China's economy being based around thefts of other nations IPs and Copyrights.

The whole "Japanophobia" thing as they call it now was based on Japanese businesses buying up a lot of US land and competing with us in certain markets we allowed them to rather effectively. The US was intimidated by the now far less existant bond of loyalty between employer and employee, and how racist Japan was in the way it did business, something parodied in shows like "Saturday Night Live". Let's just say that Japanese "Gaffs" like we make fun of with video game companies on this site were pretty legendary then. You had things like Japanese companies wanting to buy Golf courses and make them "Japanese Only" only to find out they couldn't do that in the US, and then back out of the deal.

One particular company you know and love called "Sony" also created a lot of paranoia (and still does among the smart) by being one of the first true "mega corporations" to start spreading out it's holdings internationally and not disclose what it actually had control of. Creating the illusion of competing, when it had control of the companies on both sides when neither of them realized it in order to secretly hold onto small monopolies, and the like. Sony's mission statement also made a big deal about "promoting Japanese culture" more than making more money which played into the whole racism thing. It lead to jokes about people working for Sony and not realizing it, or how a company would be bought out only to have some Japanese guy come into office and pretend he's not working for Sony despite having the logo on his jacket, and similar things. It's why a lot of people like me occasionally laugh when they hear about Sony being in trouble, because really people tend to forget the extent of it's holdings and all the investigations.

It should be noted that due to the nature of US/Japanese relations and the legal/diplomatic fiction of Japan being it's own country, yet as an occupied nation given a lot of latitude in trade in the US, there was also a lot of conflict over how companies run by Americans were being held strongly accountable to USA imposed trade laws and standards, while Japan was not, yet was being given the same basic permissions they were to operate in and around the US and it's territories. This is no longer true to anywhere near the same extent, but it lead to rumors that the US government got bought out by large Japanese corporations, and all kinds of craziness, which also inspired a lot of Cyberpunk novels to create largely eastern-dominated worlds where governments were secondary to corporations that basically controlled them. An example of some basic truths being creatively exaggerated in fiction, and why some of these Cyberpunk novels that seem laughable now (or perhaps even racist or paranoid to Bob) were considered relevant at the time, because you really did have a situation for a while where politics lead to Japanese corporations having all the advantages of American ones without having to play by the same rules, driving entire sectors out of business, and buying up tons of land in the US. The inability for the government to even find out what companies like Sony had for assets didn't help either.

It's really kind of a product of the times, and honestly as a lot of Anime fans will tell you, Japan was just as critical of a lot of the same people and conventions. To this day being a Banker has negative connotations, and really Japanese takes on corporate evil via the creation of things like "Genom" (Bubblegum Crisis in the 1980s) were probably among the most influential sources in making the corporation a stock bad guy. When you look at the original (kind of weak) plots about an evil corporation creating living things, enslaving them, and then lying about it to present this technology as pretty much mechanical, the symbolism is kind of hard to miss, and doesn't come across as being particularly positive. It makes it kind of hard to say these negative corporate stereotypes were "Japanophobic" when really The Japanese reamed the same guys as hard, or harder, than we have.
 

Soviet Heavy

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pearcinator said:
I hope they don't remake Starship Troopers next...that movie was a fluke. Nobody could remake that movie to the same effect. Hell, I hardly think Paul Verhoeven knew what kind of movie he was making at the time he made Starship Troopers!
Bad news: they are making a Starship Troopers remake. And don't let the Hollywood buzz that they are making it "closer to the original novel" fool you. They are going to rip off the Verhoeven film like no tomorrow.

And I'm pretty sure that Verhoeven knew exactly what he was doing with Starship Troopers. The genius of that film is how writer Ed Neumeier managed to disguise a vicious satire of fascism and war movies in the skin of a dumb action blockbuster. Most people write off Starship Troopers as a horrible case of Hollywood screwing up adaptations of novels. In reality, yes, it is a horrible adaptation, but it's also a damn good film in its own right. The cheesy acting and the sincerity of the actors just sells you on the absurd premise. When you can put the wooden as fuck Casper Van Dien in the same scene as the deadly serious Michael Ironside and have neither look out of place, you've made a good film.

Plus, it also has one of the best soundtracks ever. Basil Poledouris forever.
 

BarelyAudible

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Therumancer said:
*HUGE snip*
Like I said; short version.

The only Japanaphobic gag I remember from SNL was the "Chlysrer" ad.

I remember the Robocop toys ads. Feels like ever violent or raunchy movie got a toyline and Saturday morning cartoon.
 

Storm Dragon

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NinjaDeathSlap said:
as well as the scene where they test ED-209 using live ammunition in a confined space with the entire OCP board present. I'm sorry Robocop, but do you really just expect me to swallow that shit?! Private contractors being incompetent isn't unbelievable in itself, but there's a limit.
Oh good, I'm not the only one who's bugged by this.
 

Zer0Saber

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I'm going to see the new Robocop.......I am just wondering how disappointed I will be. I only want to see it because I have to know what they did to Robocop.
 

PayNSprayBandit

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I've never been the biggest fan of Robocop, but that was a really interesting (read deep and reflective) take on the film and the series. I hope to see you use The Big Picture to tackle other classics in the same style.
 

Casual Shinji

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Soviet Heavy said:
And I'm pretty sure that Verhoeven knew exactly what he was doing with Starship Troopers. The genius of that film is how writer Ed Neumeier managed to disguise a vicious satire of fascism and war movies in the skin of a dumb action blockbuster. Most people write off Starship Troopers as a horrible case of Hollywood screwing up adaptations of novels. In reality, yes, it is a horrible adaptation, but it's also a damn good film in its own right. The cheesy acting and the sincerity of the actors just sells you on the absurd premise. When you can put the wooden as fuck Casper Van Dien in the same scene as the deadly serious Michael Ironside and have neither look out of place, you've made a good film.
One of the underlying jokes of Starship Troopers I think is that the actors don't even seem to be aware of what movie they're in. You can just tell most of them are playing it as this 'Mankind vs. Evil' tale. And from what I've heard, the only reason it even got finnished is because executives ignored it. Had they seen dailies of Neil Patrick Harris dressed as an SS officer, they probably would've put a stop to it right quick.
 

Caostotale

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shiajun said:
Bob did mention that he thinks Cuarón's use of magical realism of the whole silent long-shot in the third act with everyone just awe-struck is rubbish (trying to avoid spoilers). He alluded to that in his Gravity review. Aside from me not seeing the "magical" part of that, just a very logical reaction from most people, he seems to ignore that Alfonso Cuarón, like a lot of people in Latin America, grew up with literature and art that's full of magic realism and probably influences some of his artistic sensibilities. Apparently Bob feels that particular cultural baggage isn't worthy of the same respect as the Japanese quirks he often lets slide or even some of the very United States qualities he praises about Robocop in this very video.

So yeah, in his opinion, Children of Men is pretentious, but in the end it's Bob's opinion. I personally find it's much better made than a lot of the movies Bob bends over backwards defending.
Very much agreed on all these points. I enjoy Bob's reviews, but can't for the life of me understand why he seems to have earmarked Children of Men as some kind of shaming target. I feel like this is the third or fourth time I've seen him rag on the movie, to a point where it's starting to sound like some annoying troll's pet agenda. I'm not about to act like a hipster and say that he 'just doesn't get' the film. Rather, I'll act like a rational person of average intelligence and ask 'did he actually watch the film?' Moreover, I'll throw out the possibility that, being a film critic, he probably watches too many films and goes into them both weighed heavy with the baggage of expectations/tropes/formula/etc.. and a fatigue that comes from just maybe watching too many fucking movies.

I'll admit, Children of Men is one of my favorite movies, alongside In the Bedroom, John Carpenter's The Thing, Fargo, other Coen Brothers films, etc... Aside from it being a triumph in terms of carrying through its own dystopian world-building as well as it did, I think the characters (both the major ones and many minor ones) are interesting and the story is compelling. The film is well-written, well-shot, and very well-acted. What I don't see in the film is anything resembling pretentiousness. At no point do the characters start spouting a bunch of heavy-handed exposition or anything. Nor does it ever start winking at the audience in some way. Fuck, there's probably more of that sort of cheap and pretentious crap in any number of Bob's much-loved comic book popcorn films, where the audience is just supposed to accept a bunch of weirdos running around in suits and doing outlandish shit because it's been approved consumable-for-all by the eternally-teenaged and hopelessly-shallow technocratic geek/nerd master race Bob sees himself proudly representing (i.e. egads, that frigging article blaming people for 'geek privilege'...). While those crippling social and developmental bounds are set in place around the critic, the criticism is likely to be a bit wonky and, at times, completely reminiscent of the ED-209 robot on that staircase.
 

Soviet Heavy

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Casual Shinji said:
Soviet Heavy said:
And I'm pretty sure that Verhoeven knew exactly what he was doing with Starship Troopers. The genius of that film is how writer Ed Neumeier managed to disguise a vicious satire of fascism and war movies in the skin of a dumb action blockbuster. Most people write off Starship Troopers as a horrible case of Hollywood screwing up adaptations of novels. In reality, yes, it is a horrible adaptation, but it's also a damn good film in its own right. The cheesy acting and the sincerity of the actors just sells you on the absurd premise. When you can put the wooden as fuck Casper Van Dien in the same scene as the deadly serious Michael Ironside and have neither look out of place, you've made a good film.
One of the underlying jokes of Starship Troopers I think is that the actors don't even seem to be aware of what movie they're in. You can just tell most of them are playing it as this 'Mankind vs. Evil' tale. And from what I've heard, the only reason it even got finnished is because executives ignored it. Had they seen dailies of Neil Patrick Harris dressed as an SS officer, they probably would've put a stop to it right quick.
That's the thing though. The film went through about a half dozen different Executive Producers during it's development, and Verhoeven and Neumieuer were pretty sure none of them ever got more than a cursory glance at the script. One guy would see one page, then move onto a different project, another guy would replace him and see the next page, and so on. No Producer saw the whole thing, and by the time filming started, the script was locked down, and only Ed and Paul actually knew what the film was about. Even the actors didn't know, but they gave just the right performance for the movie.
 

Proverbial Jon

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Bob, did you just put the dross that was Moon up there with Blade Runner as a great all-time modern science fiction film? For shame. I died a little inside today.
 

marioandsonic

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So basically, I can expect Bob to not like the remake when he reviews it on Friday?

Anyway, I never saw Robocop. The only connection I have to the franchise is playing the old NES game...and never beating it, because it was both hard and a bit confusing.