Friday, February 1, 2013

Robocop - Part Man, Part Machine, All Awesome

Directed by Paul Verhoeven
Written by Michael Miner & Edward Neumeier
Starring - Petter Weller, Nancy Allen, Kurtwood Smith, Ronny Cox

Tag Line:
Part Man.  Part Machine.  All Cop.  The Future of Law Enforcement.

Alternate Titles:
Ilektronika Jasusa (I got nuthin on translation...probably Robot somethin....) - India
RoboCop - O Policial do Futuro (The Police of the Future) - Brazil
RoboCop Das Gesetz in der Zukunft (The Law in the Future) - Austria
Robocop - O polĂ­cia do futuro (The Police of the Future) - Portugal
Robocop, el defensor del futuro (Defender of the Future) - Mexico, Uraguay
Robokap - Serbia
Robotzsaru - Hungary
Superglina (Supercops) - Poland

When I was a kid, my sister and I would be home alone for a few hours after getting home from school.  My Dad would leave for work about 10 minutes after we got home and my mother wouldn't get home until 4:30 or 5:00.  In these magic hours of unadulterated unsupervised bliss, I would scavenge my parent's movie collection and watch all the films I wasn't supposed to.  It was actually my older sister that got my into the habit.  She was the one who put on A Nightmare on Elm St for the first time.  We had to watch it over a period of two days in order to avoid getting caught.  For about a week, I was terrified to go to sleep.  I obviously couldn't go run to Mom or Dad for I lay in bed and  prayed that Freddy wasn't going to climb up through the sheets and get me.

This scene nearly destroyed me in my youth....
At the same time as this twilight waking nightmare was occurring, there was something else going on inside me as well.  Though I was scared, I found that I couldn't stop thinking about and being fascinated by the film.  I needed to see more.  Thus, I started to hunt through my parents video collection, watching forbidden horrors, bloody action flicks and raunchy comedies.  Films like The Entity, The Terminator, Children of the Corn and Hard Bodies entered my world and life would never be the same.

So by the time that my best friend informed me that his parents had taped RoboCop of cable, I was beyond excited.  Cyborg cops in the future blowing away bad guys?  Hell yes!  And so on one fateful Saturday night, I went to spend the weekend at my friends house.  His parents were a little more lenient when it came to R rated movies.  The asked if my parents were okay with me watching the film and of course I lied and said "Of course!"  and just like that, we were plunged into the grimy world of future Detroit.

You think THIS looks bad? ED-209 is just getting warmed up!

"Call an ambulance!"  Bwaaaaa-haaaaa!  Still makes me laugh!

All was well until Murphy's death scene.  When Clarence Boddicker blew of Murphy's hand, I immediately felt sick to my stomach.  The next minute or so almost sent me over the edge.  This wasn't some monster killing people.....this wasn't a machine from the future.....these were real men with guns blowing a man apart piece by piece.  Of course I couldn't let David know how much I was bothered by what we had just seen.  For the duration of the movie, I had a massive pit in my stomach.  I was beyond glad when it was over and very eager to go play Nintendo and try and forget the whole thing.  I couldn't sleep that night.  I kept seeing Murphy's face in agony as he cradled the bloody stump that used to be his hand.  That sickening feeling stayed with me the whole weekend and partway into the following week.

By the time RoboCop 2 came out, I guess I forgot how much the first one affected me.  It came through Columbia House as the movie of the month and I popped it in the VCR.  Quite simply, I loved it.  As a matter of fact, RoboCop 2 is the movie I used to convince my parents to allow me to watch R rated movies.  So with the new found freedom to watch R rated flicks (so long as they were rated R for violence and blood and whatnot) I began my own film collection.  One of the first VHS tapes I got my mother to buy me was the original RoboCop.  I had also recently managed to get a VCR for my room.  I was determined to conquer the film.  I popped it in, got to Murphy's murder and promptly turned it off.  This happened about twenty more times that day.  I gave up and tried playing Nintendo for a while....but the movie kept nagging at me.  Finally I turned the movie back on and watched it all the way through.  After that, I loved it just as much as RoboCop 2.....even now making it into my top favorite film list.

So now that you have the lengthy back story on my history with the film, I'll get on with the review section.  If you're reading this then more than likely you are well aware of the plot, but for the benefit of those who may not have had the pleasure of viewing this sci-fi masterpiece, here's a synopsis for you:  Alex J. Murphy is a Detroit police officer who is gunned down by a vicious crime lord and his gang.  Murphy is in luck however because he is a prime candidate for mega corporation, OCP's RoboCop program.  After being pronounced dead, he is transformed into a cyborg and programmed as a new breed of law enforcement.

RoboCop is returned to his former precinct (which he had just transferred to the same day he was gunned down) and starts cleaning up the streets.  Meanwhile, OCP is having problems with another law enforcement robot, the menacing ED-209.  A disastrous board meeting leaves one young executive dead with approximated 9,487 holes in him.  Seriously.  More on this later.  Also we find out that Dick Jones, Vice President of OCP is a real bastard and in league with Clarence Boddicker.
Our boy RoboCop starts to have flashbacks to being murdered and regains his memory....setting off to bring his killers to justice.....and ultimately bring down Dick Jones and his robotic bodygaurd, ED-209.

Murphy takes a good hard look at himself.
This film is quite literally wall to wall ultra-violence, and it is glorious.  The scene in which a young executive gets turned into human swiss cheese by ED-209 is absolutely ridiculous.  The 209 just keeps firing away as the man's body is riddled with more holes than a donut factory.  Now...when I was in high school, a friend of mine got his hands on the X rated Laser Disc.  Up to that point, I had no idea that movies could be rated X for violence, but here it was.  This same scene became absolutely insane and hilarious as the gunfire never seemed to end.  How the guy didn't end up just a pile of mush is beyond me.  There should have been nothing left to him.  The best part is after he's blown to hell, some jackass yells "Call an ambulance!"  BWAAAA-HAAAA-HAAAA!  More like call a janitor.

Toxic Avenger my ass!
RoboCop has been compared to the story of Christ by others.  To be perfectly honest, I think this is stretching things a bit.  Don't get me wrong, there is a lot more to RoboCop than just pure carnage.  There is sharp satire and it is quite a powerful commentary on self identity.  Sure, they take the body of a slain police officer and sort of resurrect him in the body of a cyborg....but I wouldn't go as far as to say it was anything to do with Christ.  I don't remember the Son of God packing an Auto-9 in his leg.  Though that would have made the Sermon on the Mount a lot more interesting.

Midnight Cinephile Totals:

Body Count:  Uh yeah.  There's a body count.  34 to be exact.  That is a lot of dead people.  Mostly bad guys.  Surprisingly, this movie doesn't even have CLOSE to the highest body count of the 80's....that honor goes to John Woo's A Better Tomorrow II....which caps out at 199....HOLY SHIT!

Boob Count:  We get to see a topless (and quite pasty) female cop towards the beginning.  That's about it.

Beast Count:  Well, you've got ED-209, a giant bi-pedal death machine that cries like a baby when it falls down the stairs.  Also, you've got a baddie that drives into a tank of toxic waste and starts to melt.....which is awesome.  He looks pretty monstrous.

Final Thoughts:
RoboCop is must see.  When you cut through the violence, you will find an incredibly smart film filled with comedy and quite a bit of heart.  A movie unlike any that had come before it and many tried to duplicate (unsuccessfully) since.

Final Rating:

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