A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 388 – Robocop

Robocop – March 23rd, 2011

Over the course of this project so far I’ve had a chance to really think about the movies I’ve seen and how I think about them and remember them. Some of our movies are old favorites I know I’ll always love. Some are things I’ve only seen once or twice. Some are things I’ve actively avoided for one reason or another. And some are things that have simply slipped past me. This is one of the latter. I know. I am ashamed. But the thing is, up until we make our list and I went through it and noted what I’d seen and what I hadn’t, I sort of assumed I had seen this movie. I’ve seen so many movies, after all. And it’s Robocop! It’s iconic! How could I not have seen it?

And yet. When I considered it, I realized that I had never sat down and watched this movie all the way through from start to finish. Oh, I’d seen clips. I’d seen bits and pieces from various points. I knew the major players and the plot and a bunch of lines. But it was all from flipping channels or it being on in the background while I was doing something else. Someone was watching it when I was in the room and I absorbed some of it by osmosis without actually paying attention to it, I suppose. I feel like having missed actually watching this earlier takes away from my geek cred a bit. But then, on the other hand, I’m doing this whole movie watching thing. That should redeem quite a bit, I think.

It should also redeem me a bit to have now seen it all the way through. And yes, there was a fair bit that I already knew and had seen. But there was also quite a lot that I hadn’t. For instance, while the plot with Murphy being shot up in the line of duty and then rebuilt into Robocop was one I knew, I’d managed to entirely miss the satiric quality to much of the movie. The plot as it stands isn’t so much satirical as flat out action, but there are some clever nods in the details. Every time the news broadcast was shown, along with commercials for things like a board game called Nukem? I felt like I was watching Kentucky Fried Movie. And then it would go back to the plot with the cybernetic cop and the corrupt weapons tech corporation and the only way those two can merge together well is if they’re both poking at things a bit.

I really like the quietly satirical action sci-fi thing this movie has going on. I knew I liked the concept of a bad-ass cybernetic cop taking on the scum of Detroit, but the little touches of humor just make it better. And even better still, it doesn’t mishandle the more serious aspects. I mean, it doesn’t look like it’s going to have anything serious about it. It looks like it’s going to be action and explosions and a robotic cop. But there’s some stuff going on in the script with Murphy realizing he’s lost the memories of his life before he became Robocop and I credit Peter Weller for a good performance there. It’s not inconsistent with the character he’s played thus far and it doesn’t bog the movie down. It just gives it a little more emotional heft.

But really, strip away the satire and the emotion and you’ve got a revenge movie. After all, the movie focuses on Murphy/Robocop taking out the gang who originally killed him. And he starts out by just doing the job he was programmed to do: Stopping crimes. The revenge bit builds up nicely, with Robocop becoming less the machine he’s been made into and more a melding of the machine and what he’s retained from Murphy. And as he changes his need to get the guys who killed him grows. And still, while there is a theme of revenge, it’s also clearly an imperative for him to get these guys because they’re criminals and because he’s a cop and that’s what he does. It’s all just so nicely balanced.

This movie surprised me in a couple of places. I expected things like ED 209 and the staircase, and I knew I’d like Murphy’s partner, Lewis, but be left wanting to see more of her. Things like the satire and Robocop calling a rape crisis center for an assault victim? Not so much. And all in one movie. It’s a little bare in the area of character development for everyone but Murphy himself, but it’s about Murphy’s journey from cop to Robocop, so that’s not a problem for me. It does manage to set the tone, explain the setting and give a well written plot in and amongst the action scenes, and that on its own is impressive. I’m certainly glad for the excuse to actually sit down and watch it instead of just hearing it behind me. It’s worth paying attention to for the details as well as for Robocop himself.

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March 23, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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