Director’s Cut: 1987/1998
DIRECTOR: Paul Verhoeven
I was 12 years old when I first saw this film. At the point when Peter Weller’s, Alex Murphy’s hand was blown off in a sadistic act of violence, I was traumatised for rest of my life! Don’t get me wrong, even then, I knew that this was an amazing film, but time and age has also gone on to serve it well.
This has gone on to become a classic, an 80’s film bathed in the era. Robocop is a near perfect satire: Its title suggests a film about a robotic cop who violently dishes out his own brand of justice, made at a time when the action films and science fiction were really coming into their own. But it’s much, much more.
This is a dig at all things 80’s, the sleaze, the capitalism and the violence as well as the lack of respect for your fellow-man. The sheer and relentless sadism displayed in that sequence alone, when Murphy is brutally murdered on his way to becoming the eponymous Robocop, is very much at the heart of the film. So is it’s more light hearted, splatter, such as the gross out scene were a villain is despatch in a vat of toxic waste, with almost comedic effect…
It is also littered with news bulletins and ad breaks, advertising comically preposterous, or seemingly so, products and news stories from the near future. The World War Three board game, “Nuke ’em before they nuke you!”; The Star Wars style defence laser satellite misfire, and the Yamaha Sports Heart! It all seemed to be a bit ridiculous but was it? As we approach at the zenith of the internet age?
The global political situations, as wars are erupting all over the world, is not so far removed from the world today. The point is that this is the epitome of the 1980’s view-point and almost 24 years later, have we really moved on that much? It’s fun, cool and poignant, with a robotic performance from Weller, who let’s face it, is capable of little else, but there’s a lot of heart hidden throughout the plot, which whist is quite simple in form, and suitably deep in meaning to elevate this from its contemporaries, and its many sequels, whether it be films, cartoons, ill-conceived TV shows or a set of third-rate television movies which now grace the bargain bins in the DVD shops..
Then there’s the music, composed by the the late, great Basil Poledouris. Sharp marches, exiting tone and pace, this was a signature score from the man that a decade later would bring us the score to another Paul Verhoeven film, Starship Troopers.
This film, as I’ve said, left me pale when I first saw it, after being clearly sheltered from the harsh realities of 18 rated films, but now it leaves me forever impressed with fact that a film called Robocop can be so much more than you might expect. This may well be the ultimate 80’s actioner, and certainly up there with the likes of The Terminator and Die Hard, which would usher the genre to new heights just a year later. Recommended isn’t the word, this is a must see, but do bare in the mind the age rating. I may well be too picky after my experience as a child but it’s worth baring in mind… I was probably just being a wuss anyway…