Friday, 7 February 2014
Let's not get carried away. RoboCop: Shadow Remake isn't a great film; it's merely quite good. If it ends up on my Top 10 of 2014, it's because I died before I saw ten films this year. It's a distinctly average superhero origin story we've seen a thousand times, with a bland lead actor in a forgettable costume, no cool catchphrases and no theme tune to speak of apart from a snippet of one stolen from its 1987 self. It's also too long, with one training sequence too many, and it takes its sweet time getting where it needs to go. And let's not forget that it's a remake, which, as I think we can all agree, is a sin.
But, annoyingly, none of that seemed to annoy me. I'm not sure why: maybe it was the immediately disarming gag with the MGM lion. Maybe it was the genuinely exciting opening scene, with policebots versus suicide bombers on the streets of Tehran. Maybe it was that it didn't slavishly attempt to recreate iconic scenes from the original for the sake of a sly wink. One thing's for sure: it benefits enormously from its supporting cast, which includes Michael Keaton in some lovely cardigans and Gary Oldman in a series of strokable knitted ties; if you don't enjoy the sight of Bruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon maniacally shouting at each other then what are you, some kind of EMOTIONLESS MECHANOID?
But that's a whole other debate. The argument now is whether or not this Robo is much Cop, and the answer seems to be "well, uh... kind of?" The new film's best ideas are cribbed from the original, apart from a vaguely political running commentary about the use of drones by the military and the influence of right-wing media. The drones argument is an interesting one, but it's handled a little clumsily via a tacked-on Fox News-esque programme which bears little relevance to the plot and is largely designed to show us Samuel L Jackson in a funny wig. But like its other drawbacks, none of this makes RoboCop the disaster I really wanted it to be in order to deploy my raging fury at its shittiness. Its most offensive and egregious moment is the suggestion that Bing is the search engine of choice post-2020, and when that's the worst thing about a remake it's hard to get too angry. Though God knows I tried.