I recently spoke out on CAVEradio Live against the new Robocop movie supposedly being release in 2010. As a huge Robocop fan since fourth grade, I feel obligated to rant against what will undoubtibly a blasphemous addition to the Robocop story. A recent interview I found at MTV (of all places) with the director says the new Robocop film will not be a sequel but a reboot, along the lines of how Batman Begins went. Robocop is in no need of a reboot, and here’s why.
Robocop is perfect. Plain and simple. The original 1987 Robocop was and is a great, fun movie. It’s ridiculous, action-packed, violent, sci-fi, and hilarious all at the same time. It works on every level. Being eight years old when Robocop first came out, I didn’t care what the message was behind the film, I just wanted to see a cyborg kill people and blow stuff up. Only later in life did I even consider what the “real” story behind Robocop was. Well, it seems this new director wants to dig deeper in that hole. Bad idea.
Here’s why a franchise like Batman needed a reboot – it got stupid. The first two Tim Burton Batmans were, not to say serious, but they weren’t all comic book as the Kilmer, Clooney Batman astrocities were. Batman started off awesome and ended up in the shitter. It needed to be stopped and Batman Begins took it back to the dark, serious nature that everyone wanted since Michael Keaton hung up the cape.
Robocop, on the otherhand, was pretty tounge-n-cheek to begin with. It was silly, macho fun. It wasn’t trying very hard to say anything special. Now, that’s not to say Robocop 2 and unfortunately Robocop 3 didn’t take things into an even sillier direction, but people weren’t watching Robocop for a message, they were watching it because it kicked ass.
Some movies don’t need to be remade, revisited, or made serious. Robocop is one of those movies. Despite it now being over 20 years old, it honestly holds up pretty well. In fact, I’ll argue that Robocop’s prediction of “the future” is closer than we like to admit. Shy of the cyborg and robots part, the Detroit in Robocop is probably pretty close to what it is today – sleezy, corrupt, dirty, violent, and angry. The only thing Robocop didn’t predict correctly was the wide spread adoption of the Ford Tarus, but hey, we all make mistakes. There are few scenes in Robocop that date the movie – a few hair styles, fashion statements, and special effects here and there, but otherwise it’s a pretty timeless film.
Whenever a franchise needs to be introduced to a new generation they never seem to consider just presenting the original movie to that generation. Why not just re-release Robocop in the theatres for a limited run? People would go see it and pay full price. In fact, I bet if most popular “old” movies were shown along side first-run films the theatres would actually be making some money. Who wouldn’t want to see Robocop, E.T., Top Gun, Jaws, and a whole host of others on a big screen? There are hundreds of movies we never got to see in theatres (or just barely saw) – let us enjoy what we missed. Why can’t they all do what Disney does? Just put the movie in “The Vault” and re-release it every 10 years and threaten it to be the “last time” it will be shown in theatures.
The new Robocop movie might end up being a “good” movie, but a remake/reboot/redo is rarely ever a worthy replacement for the original. If you’re not familiar with Robocop, do yourself a favor and go to your local public library and borrow it. I’ve sworn that the first movie I play on my new big screen TV will be Robocop…and you’ll see why.