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(NVGR) RoboCop Reboot Trailer - Violating the prime directives

It's been a while since I've done any kind of NVGR blog, but elder Destructoiders will know that I have a penchant for talking about movies. Most of you also know that I'm a pretty huge fan of RoboCop, if my avatar didn't already give that away. So why am I writing this blog? The trailer for the remake of RoboCop just came out and, well, let me just post the video here first for you watch in case you haven't seen it already.

So yeah, here's what I think about this. First off, I kind of think the whole idea of remaking RoboCop is completely unnecessary. The original 1980's movie still holds up pretty well even today, yeah some of the special effects are a bit dated but what do you expect form a quarter-century old movie, and some of the movies themes such as greedy overzealous big business still ring pretty true today. Hell, RoboCop even predicted the bankruptcy of Detroit by 26 years. Take that fact and how the Starship Troopers movie oddly foreshadows America's war on terrorism and I'm pretty sure that Paul Verhoeven is actually a time traveler from the future. In short, I think if RoboCop was released in 2013 instead of 1987 I think it would still be a pretty relevant movie.

Beyond being a fairly unnecessary remake, lets talk about the new RoboCop suit since that's the most prominent thing in the trailer. I don't really like it. Specifically, I really don't like the all-black final version of the new suit. They quickly show some earlier versions of the suit during the trailer (including the classic suit) that all retain the classic RoboCop color scheme and I think all of those look much better, because they all still look like RoboCop. Over on Dtoid's forums, I was talking to Trev about this and he said "Black with glowing red eyes so edgy. I bet his XBL name is XxSnIpErHeLlDeMoN666xX."

The all black suit in my opinion really makes the suit look fake and un-robotic, especially when compared to the classic suit or even the more 'metallic' suits found in the trailer. It looks like an unfinished movie prop or some lame Halloween costume. Plus given the success of the Chris Nolan Batman movies and the cult following of Dredd you can clearly see that they're being influenced by the current trends instead of just doing a more faithful recreation of RoboCop. When they're talking about making the suit black in the trailer, I wish they would have actually said "Does it come in black?" since they were pretty clearly trying to steal the same line from Batman Begins.

What I really liked about the classic RoboCop suit was that it looked industrialized and was something that looked like it could easily be mass produced. It had parts of that were sleek looking such as the helmet or the chest piece, but other parts of it were still kept fairly practical and robotic looking. Such as having the joints on the body exposed or having the piston behind his leg visible, it gave the impression that it was set up this way for quick maintenance and repair. Functionality and practicality over style and flash, right? The old RoboCop suit reminds me of a car, it's got flashy cosmetic parts where it can afford to have them but beyond that everything is still kept pretty practical under the hood where it counts. The new suit looks like the polar opposite of that, which makes it look like an unbelievable robot and more like a glorified guy in a rubber suit.

From what the trailer gives away of the story (which, honestly, seems like a lot), it seems like it's missing a ton of the spark of the original movie and is opting for a very "play it safe" version of RoboCop. In the original movie he's murdered by gangsters after being gunned down to the point where he's a pile of shotgun tenderized meat, so there's absolutely no way Murphy is ever able to exist again. In the new movie he's never actually killed, and technically could still live a life as a crippled human (akin to a badly scarred war veteran).

The plot of the movie still seems to involve Murphy regaining his humanity, even though he never really loses it this time. In the original after he dies his mind is (mostly) erased and loses most of his body during the transformation into RoboCop. He's stripped of as much humanity as possible, has no family to comfort him, very faint echos of his past, and all he knows are his prime directives. His programming isn't necessarily 'evil' (well, except for Prime Directive 4), but rather just an obstacle he needs to overcome in order to regain his self identity. The whole payoff of the movie was to see RoboCop call himself "Murphy" again.

Meanwhile this new movie seems to have him never lose his sense of identity, still constantly has his wife and son near him, and is in general a lot more human. He never ceases being Alex Murphy, and the only thing really preventing him from being human again is some programming that is pretty blatantly made out to be "evil" by way of giving false self control. It seems like the writers don't want their audience to feel so down about watching Murphy come so close to the abyss of non-humanity, that they made him as human as possible in order to coddle the audience and go "See guys, he's going to be okay. He just needs to stop the bad guys."

Which gets me to my next point. The OCP guys in this movie seem to be pretty cut and dry bad guys this time around. I know, right now you're going "but the OCP bad guys in the original were pretty evil too". Yeah, you're right. But the thing about the original movie was that the bad guys in it (aside from Clarence Boddicker) all had their own motives that could be interpreted as noble. Dick Jones wanted to bring in money for his company and secure OCP's standing, and The Old Man wanted to destroy Detroit and build Delta City partially because Detroit was a dying shit hole. Bob Morton built RoboCop simply to get a promotion and piss off his boss, but at the same time knew the RoboCop program was an overall better idea for law enforcement.

In this trailer we see Michael Keaton's character talk about how they need something for the American people to rally behind, and later on we hear Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) talking about how human emotions simply get into the way. This makes it seem pretty obvious that RoboCop this time around is only built for OCP propaganda reasons and that if they could get away with a fully robotic soldier instead of a cyborg, the would. I imagine the movie will have some sort of plot moment where citizens are uncomfortable being defended by fully autonomous machines, which is what will prompt the "put a man in the machine" scene we see early in the trailer.

They're cutting out any of the slightly redeeming aspects and making everyone a more cut-and-dry bad guy. Again, stripping away the plot and making it simpler so that they can make sure even the most simplest of minds can figure out what's going on. I'm really getting the impression the new RoboCop movie in general missed a big part of the original movie's point, and the rest of it is simply being dumbed-down for all of the people who were too stupid to figure out what the original movie was about.

And then there's a few minor things that bug me. The trailer has just enough CG in it to bug me, especially in comparison to the practical-effects heavy original movie. I kind of figured ED-209 would be CG this time around since he was mostly stop-motion in the original movie, but his new look isn't entirely meshing with me. I think I like new ED-209 more than new-RoboCop though.

Also, what's up with that silly space-SMG RoboCop seems to carry around now instead of his over-sized hand gun? I don't know many "cops" that carry around fully auto assault rifles, they tend to carry around hand guns. This isn't named RoboSWAT, it's RoboCop. This is another one of those "I think they missed the point" moments. RoboCop was designed to resemble a regular police officer on steroids, his "armor" was set around resembling the typical Detroit police armor in the movie and he still carried around a handgun like a normal cop, just everything was cranked up a little bit because he was a super cop. Hell, the little ventilation window on RoboCop's chest was even shaped like and placed in the same spot as a normal cop's badge would be. I also miss the more slow-paced walk RoboCop had, it was pretty much one of the trademarks of the character, now he resembles a Terminator in his movements more than RoboCop.

On a positive note, I do enjoy most of the cast in this movie. I'm also actually okay with the person they picked to play RoboCop and I'm always good for more Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton. I just think the script and tone of the movie is all sorts of off. But, while I like Samuel L. Jackson, does this guy really need to be in everything these days?

I'll probably still go see RoboCop just in case I end up getting proven wrong, but this trailer seems to display a lot of what I didn't want to see in a RoboCop movie. If this was its own standalone sci-fi action flick and wasn't named RoboCop it would probably look a little better since it wouldn't have the expectations I have with that movie, but alas that is not the case.
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About Sephzillaone of us since 9:27 AM on 07.15.2008

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Who am I? I'm a guy who plays video games, talks way too much about comics and movies, likes Godzilla and Robocop. Why should you read my blog? Because when I write I have fun, make up bullshit lists, and when I do get a little serious with some blogs I try to be insightful and use resources and facts to try and back up my opinion as much as I can. And if you don't follow my blog, I'll send you a picture of a sad kitten who wants some love.

Also, I tend to debate a lot and get up on a soapbox a bit from time to time. I like to debate for the sake of debating and I tend to find it fun to get other peoples perspectives on things, and sometimes I like to play devil's advocate a bit just for the sake of it. Basically, don't take me so serious sometimes even if it seems like I am being serious.

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