1.)It lacks satirical “tooth”…
As I mentioned in an earlier review of “RoboCop” from 1987, the main selling point of that film was social satire on American corporations, the economic reforms of President Reagan and the culture of yuppies. Unfortunately, the 2014 remake is watered down and lacks the black humour, over-the-top characters, grotesque advertisements and tragic news interrupted with jolly music and comedies from the bottom of the barrel ( “I buy this for a dollar!” ) on in-movie television programme.
In the nutshell, the adventures of officer Alex Murphy in “RoboCop” 1987 were a populist and satirical allegory of life of the average citizen, who is exploited by the guys in suits, and the plot has been consistently built around this, in particular the motif of revenge and regained identity.
In the meantime, “RoboCop” 2014 looks like it was scripted under the influence of a single news report about about the use of drones by the CIA in Pakistan and Yemen – see the opening shot of drone warfare in Iran (sardonically called “Operation Free Tehran”) . For even worse, the satire on the media (which has been a strong asset of original movie) is limited only to a parody of right-wing populist show “O’Reilly Factor” on “Fox News”. As a result, it all looks like an op-ed from yesterday’s newspaper…
2.)…that should be more relevant today
It was not a coincidence, that the original movie was set in the city of Detroit – a defunct powerhouse of American motor industry – because it was a clear symbol of the downfall of American industry, American middle class, government-regulated capitalism and welfare state.
In the year 2014 this place of action does not makes any sense (furthermore, the Detroid from remake is nice and shiny place, unlike the vision from the 1987, that combined modern office buildings with slums and crumbling factories). In the second decade of the twenty-first century, it would be more adequate to transfer the place of action to a futuristic California in order to make fun of so-called “Californian Ideology” (in short: it is an eclectic mix of the New Right and the New Left ideologies, neo-liberalism and individualistic technoutopia) and trends in the IT industry of today.
It should by a vision of society divided by technocratic elite, living in luxurious, high-security gated communities, and “plebs” that is living on unemployment benefits and temporary work in the slums, where social media and “cloud computing” are meshed with physical reality through means of advanced robotics.
(The same technology, which allowed the creation of the main character. As you can see this modification scenario would not do harm the best aspects of the remake, whose theme is the lack of public confidence in the artificial intelligence – the problem that OmniCorp wants to solve by creating a cyborg)
And the story should began as such:
Futuristic Los Angeles resembles modern-day Rio de Janeiro, with slums and brutal gang’s war, that is kept under control by the special police unit (mandatory privatized!) whose member is officer Alex Murphy. (This theme, in itself, would be a tribute to the “The Elite Squad”. And another thing, instead of disability after the attack, Murphy should be murdered. Because otherwise there is no necessary pathos of resurrection. :P)
The state government has only nominal functions, and even areas reserved for the state, such as defence, water supply and natural resources are fully controlled by mega-corporations, who are also controlling the advanced social media of the future to promote such system as an embodiment of the “American freedom”. With the help of advanced “Big Data” analytics and artificial intelligence social attitudes are intensively monitored by cameras on the street, drones in the air, electronic gadgets, bionic limbs replacements and implants that are keeping eye on the behaviour of its users by adequately manipulating the media and the marketing of the products that are delivered directly to home by drones .
At the same time the above-mentioned slums have alternative “black market” economy of their own, that is fuelled by exclusion of “proletariat” from the mainstream economy – the drugs, the medical services, false identities on futuristic Facebook (where profiles are like the identity card and provide a ticket to a better world ).
It would be desirable to make fun of the likes of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, who are often blessed with an aura of “benefactors of humanity” and are resenting their new products as a “landmark” events in history, that is simple a ruse for greed, materialism, selfishness, and authoritarianism. All should be done by juxtaposing their marketing newspeak with brutal reality.
Because Hollywood from time to time likes to be absorbed by itself, it would be advisable to throw in some unemployed actors and singers to the story, who had lost their jobs as a result of technological progress in the field of holograms and 3D CGI, and, pronto, now we have a quasi-satirical dystopia adequate for cybernetic adventures of the next generation’s RoboCop.
3.)1980’s are over. Deal with it!
Let me recall the finale of the original “RoboCop” – corrupted executive Dick Jones is thrown out from the 100th floor of an office building …
After being shot four times.
What an finale! Comically exaggerated and fully satisfying! This is the example of the power of popular cinema: the spectator identifies with the hero, feels his dramas and problems, and when the time comes to settle the score with the villain, he feels great satisfaction. And this is the kind of cinema that classic RoboCop belonged to , is, and will be associated, and therefore a remake should be at least as exaggerated as it, to be at least as good as the first movie.
20 years ago, over-the-top action, action heroes toting oversized weapons, huge amount of explosions and shootings were a staple of entertainment. Now times have a bit changed, and in my opinion the sole idea of the remake of “RoboCop” is just a marketing gimmick aimed to to create a film based on a proven formula that ensures a profit. In this situation, it may be better to leave RoboCop in the 80’s …
And finally: Why do hell the new RoboCop has the organic hand???