Reboots: ROBOCOP (2014)

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With the new version of Ghostbusters arriving in cinemas next week, we're looking back at some other recent reboots that have achieved varying degrees of success. Today Tom Pheby gets things underway with the 2014 version of RoboCop.


RoboCop, the 2014 reboot of Paul Verhoeven's 1987 classic, left much to be desired. Instead of the cyborg policeman clanking and clonking about Detroit, it was the film itself that seemed in desperate need of an oil change or a squirt of WD40.

It dipped into its former incarnation in a number of ways but forgot to revive the important dark humour. It was also less than impressive in its action sequences and failed to give us a villain we could snarl at with total conviction. Instead it giave us Gary Oldman as a misguided Scientist (Dr Dennett Norton) trying to secure research funds, and Michael Keaton as the greedy CEO of Omnicorp (Raymond Sellars). Neither had enough in the script or in the essence of their characters to summon up the required hatred levels and, for that reason, the film lacked focus. Even the antagonist Antoine Vallon. played by Patrick Garrow, was no more than a token baddie. The only whiff of genuine badness was delivered by Jackie Earle Haley as Rick Mattox, but it was brief and incomplete cartoon to say the least.


The movie also featured Samuel L Jackson, who surely must be bored with reprising his role of 'Gobby Black Character' and must yearn for more cameos of importance, such as Stephen in Django Unchained, instead of the cross between Jerry Springer and Walter Cronkite he played here.

Joel Kinnerman as Alex Murphy, and later as bits of Alex Murphy, and then finally as RoboCop, put in an agreeable performance, but no more than that. The patchy script didn't allow any room for flexibility within the character, and he lacked genuine likability. The role could have been played by any emerging actor looking for a break - not that this film would have done them any favours.


RoboCop 2014 touched base with the original but never really used all the elements at its disposal. It busied itself with concepts and token nods to its past without expanding on the theme or being truly creative, preferring to chug along in a predictable way in a low to medium gear. Detroit was certainly not re-imagined as the disjointed, utterly lawless and crumbling city of the original - unless you count double parking and dogs fouling the sidewalk! It simply wasn't credible and didn't summon up a genuine belief for the viewer that a futuristic solution to non-existent rampaging crime is an absolute must.

Riveting moments (pun) were at a premium as we got bogged down with cash hungry companies and corporate corruption, that's OK but it's hardly the stuff to get the pulse racing. The shoot-out at the drug den was about as interesting as watching someone else play Call of Duty, and left you waiting .... and waiting ... but failed to go anywhere. Even the end on the roof top was an anticlimax, leaving you chewing the last of your popcorn in an irritated fashion - just because there's nothing else to do.


Jose Padilha's direction was unsubtle, clumsy and uninspiring. He failed to deliver a comprehensive film and downgraded RoboCop to a level where its drama was pedestrian and its uniqueness was overlooked. It was the metal equivalent of King Kong, a forgettable big budget movie that was no more than a rehash for rehash sake, which was a pity.

RoboCop 2014 was all a bit drab and dire, yet everything about the film should have made the jaw drop. A stellar cast, imaginative lead character and a depressing backdrop of depravity on a grand scale, but the RoboCop reboot fell massively short. If it achieved anything it was to prove how good the original was, despite some horrendously dated CGI.

This 2014 reboot was more RoboFlop than RoboCop.

Script Writer, Poet, Blogger and junk television specialist. Half English, half Irish and half Alsatian, Tom is well known for insisting on being called Demetri for reasons best known to himself. A former film abuser and telly addict who shamefully skulks around his home town of Canterbury after dark dressed as Julie Andrews. Follow Tom on Twitter
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