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REMAKE WATCH: ROBOCOP 3-D (TBA)
 



 

We 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 another twirl.

"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 vengeance.

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 You can argue that the stop-motion effects used to bring the robotic ED-209 to life is outdated and could be done better using CGI, but that will be missing the point.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).

The 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 place!

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 . . .


 



 

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