The Flip Side, May 4
1987’s Robocop took no prisoners. It was Paul Verhoven’s first major Hollywood gig that almost didn’t happen. He initially rejected the script in disgust, and he was the third person to do so. His wife fished it out of the bin and convinced him that there was more to the story.
Indeed, the story of Detroit cop Alex Murphy murdered and subsequently resurrected as a robotic amalgamation with haunting memories of his life as a human was a strangely touching search for identity and closure, amidst all the tits and explosions that is.
The hyper-violent science fiction film spawned a number of memorable lines and confused an entire generation when Clarence Boddicker, the big bad who throws his cohorts out of moving vehicles, showed up on That 70s Show as a wisecracking father figure.
It was a financial success, so, you know, sequels.
Robocop 2 kept the ultra violence but lost touch with the satire which made it work in the first place. The plot centers around a drug ring led by a somewhat rodent-like man, Cain, which is a far cry from the previous film’s search for humanity and identity.
It’s hard to cheer on the death of Hob, Cain’s preteen sociopath in training, and the scene where a stooge is punished with dissection feels like a crass attempt to top the previous film.
Indeed, when Hob turns away in horror, Cain forces him to watch. It’s a stunning meta commentary on the film itself.
Peter Weller was considerably disappointed in the final product and dipped off to greener pastures when a third movie was announced. He was replaced with a considerably less charismatic actor. Sorry, Robert John Burke.
Robocop 3 was a PG-13 disaster that lost both the violence and satire. Our aluminium hero had been thrown into a Hollywood trash compactor and came out a hollow one-liner machine. There was something about samurai cyborgs, but who cares. The franchise appeared to be dead.
As Hollywood started digging up its old corpses, some asshole recommended Robocop. Thanks, asshole.
Once the first set image was released, it became clear that the studios had applied the “darker is better” philosophy and ditched the hero’s iconic aluminum armour for black.
This column is very clear on its opinion of remakes, and so instead of trashing this one we’d like to recommend Our Robocop Remake instead.
Our Robocop Remake was released simultaneously with Hollywood’s big budget monstrosity, with the key difference being that it’s a collaborative filmmaking effort which is free to view online. The contributors range from satire channel Screen Junkies to Cracked.com.
If you can get past the somewhat slurpy opening news segment, you’re in for a treat.
The project is interspersed with footage from the original film, which allows for certain plot continuity along with opportunities for humour. The transition between original and remake is sometimes uncanny. Some shots are very impressive recreations, and it is difficult to know the difference at certain points.
The 80s hairdos are recreated perfectly. Scene interpretations range from traditional animation to Lego shootouts to babies. The “Can You Fly, Bobby?” is a perfect tangent on the existing scene. The infamous Scene 27 goes from a simple rape intervention to a full blown penis massacre. There’s a dance that must be seen to be believed.
Granted, the Robocop costume varies depending on which resources the filmmakers had at their disposal, but the range between scenes works beautifully and helps inject a certain sense of personality that no big budget studio could replicate.
It’s not quite a parody and not quite a remake. It’s an homage that shows a clear reverence for the source material, which is more than you can say for Hollywood’s attempt.
You can watch and download the film here.