Friday, 7 February 2014


I can't deny it: remakes make me cross. Believe me, I've tried not being That Guy, but every announcement of yet another remake causes me to weep one more tear for the death of originality and creativity. It's not so bad if the film being remade was a good idea squandered by inept execution, but to remake something that's well-liked and ingrained in film culture just seems arrogant to me. Which brings me to this do-over of the adventures of the original tin can copper, a remake which has got me all hot and bothered for an entirely different reason: I really, really wanted to hate it, but it wouldn't let me. It's actually not bad. And I'm totally fucked off about it.

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?
I can at least get annoyed by the BBFC's certification: 12A seems to me a wholly inappropriate rating for this film. I realise I'm an old twat, but a lot of people get shot in this film, quite inconsequentially and with precious little blood spilt, and I'm just not sure kids of any age should be watching that. Furthermore, the film's biggest coup, a reveal which I won't spoil here, is almost as unsettling and horrific as anything Verhoeven spattered onto his (still 18-rated) film. It's a brilliant moment, but even I, with my advanced years, found it surprisingly disturbing.

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.

1 comment :

  1. Sounds like you felt the way about this that I felt about Star Trek (2009). I wanted to hate it so bad, so much so that I had written the first 2 paragraphs of my review before I even saw it, based on something I had heard. It just wouldn't let me hate it. It wasn't great or anything, but it was fun.

    In other words. I am actually kind of looking forward to this now. Not expecting greatness but it could actually be some fun.