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Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Robocop Remake and why its not necessary

A viral Video and a website was recently released to build up hype for the Robocop remake which is due for release next year. The teaser trailer focused on the fictional Omni Consumer Products ( renamed Omnicorp in this remake) and the technology they create including the familiar ED 209 robot from the original Robocop. The viral video was ok and was a first step in fleshing out the fictional company for the eventual films release, but that's not what my issue is.

                                           The new suit looks like a Batman suit without the cape and
                                            cowl and with a bowl as a helmet.

My issue is that Robocop is being remade when it doesn't need to be. More than 2 decades since its release in 1987 and it still holds up as a great movie. Its themes of humanity, social unrest, and industrial decay makes it a smart action movie, which is very rare. Remaking the film is simply unnecessary because it will never have the same effect the original had and will only end up being a rehash more than anything else.

Its too early to say so right now seeing as there isn't a full trailer of any kind and the film is still in production, but it isn't impossible to have some predictions about what the final result may be. By looking at other remakes like Total Recall ( a remake of another Paul Verhoven movie) we can see how remakes usually like to pretend that they are honoring the original when in reality they are merely using a watered down version of the original to dazzle us with CGI and bombastic action scenes. I mean sure it looks great visually, but its style over substance, and there is far too much of that these days.

I will use the trailer for Total Recall to demonstrate this.

Notice how flashy and glossy and clean everything looks, it just has this very artificial feel to the whole thing and it lacks grit and the world just doesn't feel as believable as the world from the original Total Recall.

Its this glossy artificial look that could ruin the Robocop remake if it decided to use it. This is because one of the key parts of the original Robocop was its focus on the dark, decayed, and crime ridden future Detroit. It was a violent dangerous place and was far from the perfect safe future people would want. If you gave it the glossy look treatment it just wouldn't convey that danger or darkness anymore, and in turn would diminish the tone and perhaps a great amount of its satirical theme.

There is also this strange choice they made with the Total Recall remake that really changes the film in a fairly big way, and that was the decision to not feature Mars unlike the original film and its source material. While its not a huge loss it still seems odd considering that Mars was one of the most interesting locations in the original movie. Maybe that's why they needed to dazzle everything up for the Earth scenes, because there isn't the promise of a planet like Mars this time around. The original Total Recall seemed to make its scenes on earth deliberately less spectacular so that when we got to Mars further into the film then it really felt like you were on another planet filled with sights and locations you wouldn't see on earth. It felt right doing it that way because that was how the main character Douglas Quaid felt, he was bored of earth and wanted to go to an entirely different world, the same way the audience would feel.

The remake seems to limit its scope by taking away the Mars aspect and no amount of expensive CGI is going to save that. It also seems like a very bland modern action movie with flashy camera moves and unnecessary slow motion. Its world doesn't really seem all that interesting either, with its Blade Runner style vision of the future being very uninspired by this point.

This is the possible path of the Robocop remake, a bland, loud and uninspired film that doesn't really innovate on the original, but instead removes certain aspects of what made the original good just so that it looks different by comparison. Will the Robocop remake have the theme of humanity like the original? will it convey that same great satirical tone that was very evident in the original?, and most importantly, will it be as entertaining, and will it innovate. Without some form of innovation then the remake is pointless and unnecessary, you are better off watching the original Robocop. Of course we cant know how good the remake will be until its released, but by looking at an example of a recent remake we can at least ask a question, will it just be another glossy over produced bland action movie that rehashes the original in a less well made form, or will it hold up in the same way the original did.