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I'd buy that for a dollar...
February 14, 2014 4:31 PM   Subscribe

"If you want to predict the future, just think about how bad it could be and make a joke out of it, and there you go."
Ed Neumeier on the writing of the original RoboCop.
posted by mokin (73 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
What do you mean "original"; there is only one Robocop.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:33 PM on February 14 [18 favorites]


Well, that certainly explains how Idiocracy became so prescient.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:34 PM on February 14 [4 favorites]


The best thing about the Robocop remake seems to be that it has sparked interest in the original, which is a much better movie than any movie about an android cop deserves to be.
posted by dortmunder at 4:43 PM on February 14 [12 favorites]


which is a much better movie than any movie about an android cop deserves to be.

Well, it's no Blade Runner...
posted by aubilenon at 4:50 PM on February 14 [25 favorites]


The original is such a perfect tightrope-walk in tone. It manages to have some thoughtful things to say about technology and corporate power while being this insane over-the-top violent action comedy. I can't imagine that the new one could even approach that.
posted by octothorpe at 4:54 PM on February 14 [6 favorites]


I've been meaning to buy the blu-ray of this classic film for ages now and this fantastic interview made me click over to Amazon and finally pull the trigger. Thank you for the link!
posted by longdaysjourney at 4:59 PM on February 14


I never actually saw Robocop until maybe 2008 or so- I'd thought that it was just supposed to be some stupid action flick. I was so fucking wrong! It's one of the greatest cyberpunk movies ever made!
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:01 PM on February 14 [4 favorites]


Well, it's no Blade Runner...

Blade Runner vs Robocop. Now there's a Paul W.S. Anderson film I'm glad was never made.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:01 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]


Robocop is 600 times better than Blade Runner.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 5:05 PM on February 14 [8 favorites]


I love that Robert Cop.
posted by angerbot at 5:06 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]


Robocop is 600 times better than Blade Runner.

Let's not get crazy.

I think comparing Robocop and Blade Runner directly is foolish. They are not competing goods, you know? They're very different films trying to do different things. The right choice is not to rank one of them at #1 and one at #2, but to place Blade Runner at the top of its category and Robocop at the top of the category it belongs in.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:09 PM on February 14 [15 favorites]


The thing about Idiocracy is that it was actually based on a short story called The Marching Morons. Updated, yes, but the heart of the story's still the same as it was in the 1950s. I'm not really a eugenicist, but I think there's something to the idea of the downward slide, not based so much in genetics as on the glorification of the dumb.

The Marching Morons has a recurring gameshow catchphrase throughout the story.

"Would you buy that for a quarter?"

I was really hoping if he was going to talk about that, he was going to pay homage where homage was due. Kornbluth and Pohl in particular were masters of shooting for the ridiculous and landing in the uncanny.
posted by Sequence at 5:17 PM on February 14 [13 favorites]


The idea that pop culture is getting dumber is something that generally requires an ignorance of past pop culture to agree with. The popular music and TV from the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's... it's mostly stupid and disposable as hell.

Less changes than we'd like to believe.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:19 PM on February 14 [8 favorites]


The robocop remake stars a guy that looks like McNulty (from The Wire), and his partner is Michael K. Williams (you know, Omar from The Wire) and if you drink a whole bottle of Charles Shaw and squint, you can pretend it's The Wire: Season 6.
posted by hellojed at 5:22 PM on February 14 [14 favorites]


My biggest problems with the remake: btw: The phrase 'I wouldn't buy that for a dollar' is uttered, and the fbomb that Samuel L Jackson drops is bleeped out.
posted by hellojed at 5:23 PM on February 14


Who the fuck *bleeps* Samuel L Jackson?
It's not like you don't fucking know who you're fucking hiring when you fucking hire Samuel L fucking Jackson.
Fuck.


(I hear Michael Keaton is good, though)
posted by madajb at 5:27 PM on February 14 [8 favorites]


Who the fuck *bleeps* Samuel L Jackson?

PG-13 ruins everything.
posted by octothorpe at 5:29 PM on February 14


Who bleeps a movie in the theatre? That's offensive in and of itself!
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:30 PM on February 14 [7 favorites]


I agree with Kermode. It's not as bad as it could have been. However:

1) (I love Michael K Williams, but!) They made Lewis a guy. WTH.

2) They put Michael K Williams in a Robocop remake and didn't make him Robocop. WTH.
posted by dumbland at 5:30 PM on February 14


Micheal Keaton is good, Gary Oldman is also very good. I found the film to be more subversive and better written than I thought it would be. Then again, you pretty much go in with zero expectations.
posted by hellojed at 5:32 PM on February 14


**Minor spoiler**, context for the SLJ bleeping:

In the movie, Jackson is the host of a Fox News meets TED talk style shouty head show. When they bleep him, it's because he is on a TV broadcast at the time. Yes, I think there's meant to be a joke in what they (the TV show) will censor, given what they allow.
posted by dumbland at 5:32 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]


you can pretend it's The Wire: Season 6

I would pay good money to see RoboMcNulty and RoboBunk.

*CLOMP CLOMP CLOMP* "Fuck."

*CLOMP CLOMP CLOMP* "Motherfucker."
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:40 PM on February 14 [26 favorites]


The pullquote in the FPP reminds me of an interview with the creator of the Spartacus series, who was asked how he managed to turn out so many episodes that were packed beginning to end with the sort of OMFG events the show was known for: "I write two episodes, take out all the boring parts, and film what's left."
posted by Ian A.T. at 6:05 PM on February 14


All you need to know between the original and the remake:

Original sparred a debate about whether it was so violent it deserved an X (NC17) rating

Remake designed for PG13 to attract kids

I saw"the scene" in Robocop when it first came out as a little kid. I knew the people that ran the local movie theater. They liked me. They let me in to see just that intro bit even though I think they were actually under orders from the owners (maybe the movie company) not to allow anyone under a certain age in even with a parent. That was only movie I remember that ever got that treatment.
posted by Muddler at 6:18 PM on February 14


The writer was on the set for most of the shoot, tweaking the script on the fly.

One day I was on the set. A big bunch of props show up—among them are party hats and shit. So I wrote a New Year’s Eve party scene for RoboCop. We were at Mary Kay factory in Texas outside of Dallas, and there was a typewriter down the hall. I had pitched the scene to Paul and handed him the pages, and they did it in the movie. The idea of actually being able to write something and you see it shot in that moment, and see it on the screen to this day, is sort of… Wow, it’s very unusual.

This should happen more often.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:22 PM on February 14 [3 favorites]


Comparing Robocop to Blade Runner is like comparing androids to cyborgs.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:23 PM on February 14 [12 favorites]


Well, it's no BladeRunner...
I adore both RoboCop and BladeRunner beyond words, but, I dare say it, RoboCop is the more accessible?

The original is such a perfect tightrope-walk in tone... I can't imagine that the new one could even approach that.
This!! I recall reading an interview with Verhoeven (in a dutch magazine?) where he indicated the level of gore he originally shot pushed the film over that edge toward comical, and that being forced to trim that to keep the rating R actually resulted in a darker more thoughtful tone.
posted by The Legit Republic of Blanketsburg at 6:33 PM on February 14


I've probably mentioned this before, but I was still in the single digits of age when this film came out. My parents, even though they had seen Robocop in the theater, seemed to not mind in the least when it was one of my choices at the video store one Friday not long after it hit home video. Better still, they were down with me making a copy.

Being 7, I didn't really get the subtext at the time. As far as the gore goes, it's pretty fucking mild if you ask me. I mean yeah, Murphy does get his hand blown off with a shotgun, but it's not like I hadn't seen people's entrails spilling out of their abdomen on one of the eight million early-mid 80s horror flicks.

Rewatching it from the copy in my teens, I found whole new dimensions to the story that had just flown right the fuck over my head. I dare say it made an impression.
posted by wierdo at 6:40 PM on February 14


The New RoboCop Is What RoboCop Meant to Kill
posted by homunculus at 6:41 PM on February 14 [3 favorites]


Half In The Bag revisited the original Robocops recently in anticipation for hating the remake.

Robocop is obviously one of my favorite movies. I still remember when I first saw it (guilted Mom into renting it after I was diagnosed with some blood fooferaw) and the little bullet I made out of Hershey's Kiss foils while watching.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:46 PM on February 14 [3 favorites]


30 Things We Learned from the ‘RoboCop’ Commentary
posted by Chrysostom at 7:00 PM on February 14 [3 favorites]


Loved the original in the theatre, then saw a 16mm screening in a friend's apartment. After that, I've made point of re-watching it on every format that's come along...and every time it's on TV.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:07 PM on February 14


When I first saw RoboCop back in the 80s, I was kind of going "Ho hum. This ain't Judge Dredd." Then I saw the flag that was flying: it was red with a white circle but the black logo in the middle wasn't a swastika, it was the Gucci interlocking Gs. Then I sat up and really watched this great movie.
posted by CCBC at 7:29 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]


Alex Pappademas has a good piece on Verhooven's career at Grantland: The twisted genius behind ‘RoboCop,’ ‘Total Recall,’ and — yes — ‘Showgirls’

I was actually going to make an fpp on it.

Also at Grantland, the always sharp Wesley Morris on the new Robocop.
posted by Trochanter at 7:36 PM on February 14 [4 favorites]


Peter Weller's wikipedia entry is a thing of beauty.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:36 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]


to sir with millipedes: "Robocop is 600 times better than Blade Runner."

Yeah, no.

I saw Blade Runner in the theater when I was 15; it was the greatest movie I had ever seen at the time. I was blown away. I still think it's great.

I didn't see Robocop in the theater, I saw it on cable at 3 in the morning on acid on the day of my grandfather's funeral. I was around 21 at the time and I had forgotten that the funeral was that day when I took some windowpane at 1 in the morning. What can I say? I was young and stupid and my grandfather was an asshole, and I just wasn't thinking. I suddenly and with a sick feeling remembered the funeral sometime around 2 in the morning when the acid was just kicking in, and immediately drove home (where I still lived with my family). Again, young and stupid and driving on acid. The streetlights were stop motion and the curves made it feel I was driving in spirals. When I got to the house, of course I couldn't sleep, so I put on the tv and Robocop was coming on cable. I had heard so much about it, and I had nothing else to do but wait for my family to wake up, so I sat down and started watching. I thought it was both terrible and compelling. I don't know how much of the impact was situational and how much was the movie itself; the weird half-mortality of the main character and the graphic violence, the pantomime villains and the female partner who was both "tough" and vulnerable and transparent caricature characters and I couldn't stop yawning (which is what I did for some reason when tripping) and god damn was that movie long and it was branded into my brain after seeing it. It cast the weirdest fucking pall over the whole trip and the rest of the day.
I had to take a shower to wash off the movie and the yawning and I came back down as my father was getting up; he was estranged from his dad and hadn't spoken to him for over a year before he died and was both depressed and confused because all he ever wanted was for his father to love him and his father was just incapable of really showing love and it was all unresolved and now he was dead.
The rest of my family was getting up and I kept thinking how strange it was that no one realized that I was totally tripping balls. I was certain someone would pick up on it at some point but no one did.
The day dawned dreary, cold and rainy and as we left. My grandfather had been a professional wrestler. Large, lumbering, broken-down old wrestlers with gaudy rings on big hands and tinted glasses and slightly long hair for their generation milled about uncomfortably before the service. His second wife had chosen an open-casket funeral, which totally freaked me and my siblings out. We were making jokes about how "lifelike" he looked and had trouble not laughing and joking with the tension.
The service, like the movie, seemed to last forever. I was still totally tripping and I couldn't stop looking at the gray light and raindrops running down the floor-to-ceiling windows behind the altar of the church. I was one of the pallbearers and was terribly distracted by the drops of rain falling down the side of the copper-colored Star Trek Spock torpedo-style casket as we finally carried it over gravestones to the gravesite, and somehow the stark mortality and absurdity of it all tied in to the gruesome giddy bloody violent ridiculous spree of Robocop. Again, I don't know how much of it was situational but that movie is forever branded into my brain and forever tied to that day.

As I remember it, not a great movie, though. Kind of compelling and not bad, but not great. Maybe I should watch it again after 25 years or so, I've only caught little glimpses and clips since I saw it. But I'm sorry this isn't so much of a relevant comment on the article (which is interesting) as a self-indulgent story that welled up in my memory as I read it and thought of the movie.
posted by Red Loop at 7:56 PM on February 14 [14 favorites]


Peter Weller's wikipedia entry is a thing of beauty.

No, it's not.
posted by metasonix at 8:30 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]


"Robocop is 600 times better than Blade Runner."

That's crazy talk. 599 times better than Blade Runner, perhaps, but lets not go overboard.

And we could take more points off for Robocop 2 and Robocop 3 (if we knew about Frank Miller than ....), and all the other Robocops.

Speaking of which, someone from Jezebel of all places just watched Robocop for the first time:
He hops in his Taurus (ROBOCOP DRIVES A TAURUS) and vrooms out into the streets where he shoots a rapist in the penis for attempting to steal a woman's hair. Then he tells the woman, "Madam, you have suffered an emotional shock. I will notify a rape crisis center." (Note to real police: How is it possible that some of you have less humanity when dealing with sexual assault victims than a 1980s fictional robot?)

I watched Robocop for only the second time last year (I'd last seen it on VHS in my teens), and like many I was bowled over by how subversive it was. I only remembered the violence.
Then I decided to watch the other two films and it was all child hackers and ninjas with jetpacks.

I did not go further. The first movie was perfect and did not need to be followed up.

(But if you need more Robocop with Batman.... Fan Fiction Friday is there).
posted by Mezentian at 9:03 PM on February 14


The thing about Idiocracy is that it was actually based on a short story called The Marching Morons. Updated, yes, but the heart of the story's still the same as it was in the 1950s

Everyone should read this story. It's excellent. As is all Kornbluth I have devoured.
posted by Mezentian at 9:07 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]


You've maybe heard about the upcoming re-make starring Wesley Snipes as the vampire hunter who doesn't know he's actually himself a vampire? It's called Blade: Runner.
posted by straight at 9:30 PM on February 14 [12 favorites]


How the New Robocop turns satire into open advocacy of fascism over at Ruthless.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 10:35 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]


That interview was a delightful mix of personal commentary and sucking up to anyone and everyone in the movie business.

From the personal commentary side though...
And you know what they say about satire in the movie business? They use a Broadway line: “Satire closes on Saturday night.”

This starts to explain how Starship Troopers is so frequently taken at face value. The film is satirical (or in modern speak "subversive") but done with the knowledge that if they push it too far they'll have a box office failure on their hands. So they build in plausible deniability and a bit of confusion takes place among the punters.

I would love to have him and Verhoeven take a shot at Judge Dredd. This last one was better than the first but they completely left out the dry humor. And who couldn't take looking at Karl Urban's chin for another two hours?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:01 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that's a bad article in a lot of ways that actor/artist articles often are, unfortunately (mainly in the DUN-dun-DUN-dun-DUN completist and chronological form of the career section, most of which is covered in the filmography). Sorry, pxe2000, and while this is also a shared problem, it has a definitely subpar fan photo. I give it a B- at best.

And I love Robocop. It is what it is, a fun, subversive, visually inventive techno-satire, and because there are very few of those it is very nearly the best of that niche. But to compare it to a masterpiece like Blade Runner, which singlehandedly influenced a quarter-century of imaginative filmmaking, is preposterous (and I know there are those who find BR dull or self-absorbed). By the way, I finally was able to see The Duellists and combine that with Alien and BR and you have quite the debut-x-3 run for any director. But this is getting off topic. It's just an unfair comparison to put those two films head to head as they have very different filmic purposes.

So they build in plausible deniability and a bit of confusion takes place among the punters.

Dunno if it's commercialism at fault, really. Alan Moore has constantly faced slack-jawed fanboys who worship Rorschach, for instance, well before the movie. And Jonathan Swift had some people completely missing his point.
posted by dhartung at 11:07 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]


they completely left out the dry humor

Judge Dredd: I was wondering when you'd remember you forgot your helmet.
Anderson: Sir, a helmet can interfere with my psychic abilities.
Judge Dredd: Think a bullet in the head might interfere with them more.

That's dry enough for me.
"Gaze into the fist of Dredd" dry. Like a good gin.
Verhoeven could be good at tackling something like The Fatties though. Or Monkey Business. But I am just fine with the last Dredd film as it was, I tittered along nicely.

Dredd's a strange beast though. Best when it's understated, but also completely crazy.

Can I just whine about all the damn Dark Judges now? Judge Fistula fer fuck's sake.
posted by Mezentian at 11:09 PM on February 14


Blade Runner, which singlehandedly influenced a quarter-century of imaginative filmmaking, is preposterous (and I know there are those who find BR dull or self-absorbed).

I find Blade Runner dull.
Pretty to look at and I can see why visually it has a lot of respect, but a dull film. (I've not watched it in 20 years, but my memory is pretty clear).
I find the script lacking, whereas Robocop's visuals might consist of a lot of "empty factory in 2014" the script has a lot of sly humour.

And since I just looked it up Robocop VS Judge Dredd *DeathMatch
posted by Mezentian at 11:14 PM on February 14


I guess that the humor in Dredd must have been over my head; I found it deadly dull and really struggled to finish watching it.
posted by octothorpe at 2:14 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Good post!

The notion that this was about Detroit was very important to me, and I actually had fights with people and producers. “No, it has to be Detroit! No, it’s gonna be Detroit!” And thank God people like Jon Davison said “All right, it’s Detroit.” Because he understood the metaphor. The metaphor was about technology changing and leaving something behind. Part of my despair about the K-car came out in that movie, you know?

Detroit's the clearest example there is of the lingering dysfunctions of the United States. Detroit is our future.
posted by JHarris at 3:09 AM on February 15


I found it deadly dull and really struggled to finish watching it.

Maybe someday they'll make a Rob Schneider version.
posted by Mezentian at 4:18 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


> "Everyone should read [The Marching Morons] story. It's excellent."

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who loathes the blatant narcissistic classism of that story and the movie based on it.
posted by kyrademon at 5:19 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


No, it's not.
Looks like the source for that disagreement is Barney the Dinosaur.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:25 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


I used to think that Robocop-fandom was a camp thing, so-bad-its-good thing, like Brother From Another Planet or that kind of cult film. No, I was wrong: it is totally sincere.
posted by thelonius at 5:41 AM on February 15


I'm sincerely a fan of Brother From Another Planet too. It's a minor entry in John Sayles' catalog but it's a neat little movie.
posted by octothorpe at 5:44 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


How the New Robocop turns satire into open advocacy of fascism over at Ruthless.

That's the most depressing movie review I've ever read.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 6:01 AM on February 15


Here's my primary memory of (the original) Robocop. It's been a long time since I've seen the film, for forgive me, but there's a scene where the script makes at obvious dig at Ronald Reagan. Anyway, I'm in the theater watching and that scene plays and some guy sitting in front of me is so offended that they'd dare insult St. Reagan that he starts screaming and ranting at the film. He quiets down after a bit but for the rest of the movie I can hear him not-so-quieting fuming and cursing the film makers. When the credits finally roll he stands up and marches out the theater, full of righteous indignation. It amazed me. Two hours of the old ultra-violence was apparently nothing to him, but insulting Reagan was just fucking intolerable to his delicate sensibilities.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 6:17 AM on February 15 [3 favorites]


I think that must have the news report in the movie saying that a SDI satellite had misfired and killed a few ex-presidents although they don't say which ones.
posted by octothorpe at 6:29 AM on February 15


I must need a pair of reverse-They-Live-glasses, because when I look at the much-beloved, supposedly wickedly satirical, presumably insightful 1987 film, Robocop, all I see is one more stupid eighties film. It looks pretty much indistinguishable from the films that it's meant to be sending up to me, and I can't get past all the violence to see how it's telling me some important lesson about violence.

Also, any movie that uses a Ford Taurus as futuristic is going to be problematic. Ford Tauruses still had plastic woodgrain interiors, for chrissakes, which makes it as futuristic as a Radio Shack Realistic-brand clock radio.

Mileage is highly variable, though.
posted by sonascope at 6:49 AM on February 15


Kurtwood Smith and Ray Wise were standing close to the sex shop when it was blown up, and there both ended up quite upset at the size of the explosion

I love this sentence
posted by The Whelk at 7:10 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


I still rate "Lose the arm" as one of the best lines from any American movie ever.
posted by flabdablet at 10:16 AM on February 15


When I was living in NYC I got used to seeing posters for weeks in the subway for movies that appeared and disappeared in a day as soon as the reviews were in. I thought for sure Robocop was going to be one of those. I was wrong.

It has the oddest effect on people. I watched it recently with a friend who doesn't like science-fiction, robots, violence, anything Robocop was about. I told them they didn't have to finish it if they didn't want to, but give it a try since they seemed curious about the DVD cover. About 20 minutes in they asked, "When this made?" and then "This is really good. This is really, really good" all the way through the rest of the movie.
posted by lagomorphius at 11:08 AM on February 15


Also, any movie that uses a Ford Taurus as futuristic is going to be problematic.

That was the first year it was introduced. I bought one and it was a goddam lemon and bankrupted me. But that goddam Taurus changed the entire auto industry. It changed me forever, I have never recovered from that economic disaster. If I could send one message back in the past that would completely change my life, it would be "don't buy the Taurus, buy the Camry."

And it was futuristic, back then, especially with that matte black paint job.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:49 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


The Tauruses (Taurii?) in Robocop most definitely did not have woodgrain interior trim. Also, it's not sending up film, it's sending up culture. Business culture, entertainment culture, etc. But yeah, taken straight, it's just another (reasonably decent) entry in the annals of 80s action flicks.
posted by wierdo at 12:05 PM on February 15


flabdablet: "I still rate "Lose the arm" as one of the best lines from any American movie ever."

I'd vote for "I'm sure it's only a glitch."
posted by octothorpe at 12:07 PM on February 15


The thing about futurism, it's always, always terribly retro. Best thing about it.
posted by glasseyes at 1:11 PM on February 15


The Fords looked pretty futuristic at the time. And other than Sleeper and Blade Runner, not too many movies have designed their own cars. Heck, in the above mentioned Dredd, they're still driving VW Vanagons in the future.
posted by octothorpe at 3:03 PM on February 15


I imagine making your own car is expensive and time consuming, and comes with compromises that I'm sure bug the people making the movie. Even in Blade Runner it's obvious that they never got the windshield wipers working.

I guess with CGI it's easier (e.g., minority report)... and having mundane vehicles can do a lot to ruin the illusion that you're seeing the future or something instead of regular old dumb real life.
posted by aubilenon at 3:42 PM on February 15


if you drink a whole bottle of Charles Shaw and squint,

I'd buy that for a dollar two bucks.
posted by mwhybark at 4:13 PM on February 15


"I still rate "Lose the arm" as one of the best lines from any American movie ever."

I'd vote for "I'm sure it's only a glitch."


Bitches leave.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:36 PM on February 15 [4 favorites]


Love, love , love Robocop!
Mr. Gadgetenvy and I have been using the 'I'd buy that for a dollar!' line since we saw the original Robocop in the theater.
Thanks for the post, mokin. And all the other links from my fellow MiFi commenters. I will be reading and watching stuff about Robocop all day tomorrow.
posted by Gadgetenvy at 8:59 PM on February 15


Looks like the remake is not doing well at the box office. It was the third most popular 80s remake after About Last Night and Endless Love and The Lego Movie is kicking all of their asses.
posted by octothorpe at 6:14 AM on February 16


Wait... they remade Endless Love?

and The Lego Movie is kicking all of their asses.
That seenm right and proper.
posted by Mezentian at 6:52 AM on February 16


The Onion Reviews 'RoboCop'
posted by homunculus at 11:45 AM on February 16


The Robocop-vs-Blade Runner argument may boil down to what you want out of SF. Blade Runner is beautiful and elegiac, sometimes absurdly so; what's supposed to be a crowded urban hellscape is simply gorgeous, with slow-motion plumes of flame spurting into the night sky at just the right intervals, and even the seedier parts of town look like the kinds of places that you'd want to hang out in pretty much all the time. But it's a cyberpunk-noir in which no one seems corrupt or even particularly bad; the replicants are just fighting for their lives, and even Dr. Eldon Tyrell--you know, the one who created sentient slaves aware of their horribly-limited lifespans--is just a richer version of the eccentric inventors that make replicant parts for him. He seems truly regretful at having reinstituted the peculiar institution and making it even more cruel, as if he were just a minor-league god who hadn't quite gotten all the bugs out yet, and in turn Batty seems regretful as he crushes Tyrell's head in his bare hands.

You don't get that in Robocop. Nice guys finish last; everyone at OCP is various shades of awful, and Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer's exec) is confirmed as a dick when he tells the surgical team to take off Murphy's last remaining limb, even though it's salvageable. (It's worth remembering that the last time we see Lewis (Nancy Allen's character), Robocop is telling her that they'll fix her too, which would have been the perfect set-up to have her appear as a female Robocop in the sequel, but that was never followed up on.) Plus, of course, this movie is pretty unambiguous about the horror of marketing of sentient beings as property, which would ironically make Dick Jones (Ronny Cox) a better person than Morton, except that we know that he's a psychopath, too. (The sequel makes The Old Man even worse, but that's because Frank Miller will never use a hammer if he has a sledgehammer around, even if he's hanging pictures.) There's nothing pretty about its vision of Detroit, even the newer parts, but even that ties into the film's themes; one of the things that still stands out for me about 1980s capitalist triumphalism is just how crass it was. It's a repudiation of the cyberpunk esthetic.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:05 PM on February 16 [7 favorites]


Economic study suggests we're heading for a Blade Runner future
posted by homunculus at 4:39 PM on February 19


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