RoboCop 2013 v. RoboCop 1987
There are some remakes that just beg to be compared to their originals and the new RoboCop movie is a good example of this. I read that some fans call the 1987 movie, directed Paul Verhoeven and starring Peter Weller and Kurtwood Smith, as a “Classic.” I guess that is true. While it may not be an overall cinematic classic, it certainly is a classic of the science-fiction genre and of the 1980s.
I have to say I do like the new movie but I do admit that I like the 1987 movie even more. Here are the reasons why. First of all I have to notice the irony. RoboCop 87 was rated R and RoboCop 13 was rated PG-13. Even though the 87 movie had more course language and graphic violence this movie had a sense of over-the-top fun, and despite the drama, it didn’t take itself too seriously. RoboCop 13 doesn’t have the level of graphic violence the original had but it is done in the style of many science-fiction movies of today: that is gritty and realistic. My problem is that approach doesn’t always work. Sometimes by doing a movie with a gritty and realistic style it looses its sense of fun and that isn’t very entertaining for me.
I would call the 2013 movie a re-imagining rather than a remake. There is a distinctive difference in both Robocop robots. In the 1987 movie Murphy is killed and brought back to life and in the 2013 movie he is severely wounded but he retains his memory. Both movies do have a similar theme of searching for one’s identity though. While Murphy 87 is searching to remember who he was, Murphy 2013 struggles to maintain his identity.
In the 2013 movie Michael “Batman” Keaton is very good as the slimy CEO of OmniCorp. However, he just cannot compete with the scene stealing and scene chewing that Kurtwood Smith does in the original. I think that was the first introduction to Smith’s work. I have seen him in various Star Trek roles, That 70s Show and Dead Poets Society. A class act all of the way.
There is one disturbing scene in the new Robocop movie. In the 1987 movie they never really show just how much of Murphy is left and what is cybernetic. In the 2013 movie they show how much is left and it is pretty disturbing. We watch Robocop 2013, played by Joel Kinnaman, as his cybernetic parts are stripped away to reveal that what is left of Alex Murphey is nothing but his head, one hand, lungs and heart. I recoiled in horror along with Murphy at that discovery.
In the end both have very well told stories and good exciting characters. However the heaviness of the remake puts me off a bit and it is just not as fun and entertaining as the 1987 original.
Posted on July 21, 2014, in Movie Review and tagged Alex Murphey, Joel Kinnaman, Lurtwood Smith, Michael Keaton, Paul Verhoeven, Peter Weller, Robocop, That 70s Show. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.