The Hollywood well of ideas has run dry. As reported earlier in the year, the billion dollar gears of the movie machine are grinding to a halt and, like it or not, an abundance of classic 80’s and 90’s film remakes are on the horizon. More often than not, news of these remakes is met with intense feelings of rage and bitterness from fans, which I can sort of understand. I always figured that since the original movie still remained in tact, it didn’t really matter that they were going to make a new, undoubtedly crappy version of a much loved flick, but with that said it’s difficult to shake the feeling that the suits in charge are more than happy to just stomp all over our childhood in order to stuff their pockets with a couple more bucks.
Let’s look at the recent remake of Total Recall (which I’ve heard isn’t actually all that bad). Aside from being a bit of an odd choice of franchise to dig up, a remake feels mostly unnecessary. On the whole, the original holds up fine even by today’s standards. Maybe some industry moguls were just real eager to see what modern computer generated imagery could do to an alien hooker with three tits.
While providing mild annoyance, and further evidence that the Hollywood bigwigs are getting desperate, Total Recall 2012 hasn’t affected my life too much. I mean, I guess it’d be kind of irritating if someone were to say, “Total Recall is my favourite movie”, because then you’d have to ask them, “Which one, the original or the 2012 remake starring Colin Farrell?”, and then they’d say, “The original, though I’ve heard the remake isn’t actually all that bad”. But then, Total Recall isn’t anyone’s favourite movie so you probably don’t need to worry about that happening ever.
Robocop, however, is a different story. The 1987 Paul Verhoeven film is one of my favourite sci-fi movies of all time, and the pistol spinning, baby food munching, half-man half-machine is a character very close to my wholly human heart. When I was young, Robocop somehow made the police force seem cool, and me and my little buddies would often spend time in the playground arguing over who would get to be Robocop – the winner securing the right to lie down while everyone else pretended to blow his arm off with a shotgun/a stick from a tree. But as I grew up and watched the film another couple of hundred times, I started to realise just how deep the story was. The tongue in cheek satire raises questions about capitalism, the globalisation of power-hungry corporations, and even concerns the ethical arguments in playing god and reanimating a fucked up, bullet-riddled cop.
The movie is cool, clever, and intense (and really fvcking gory), so it was with a heavy heart that I learnt of recent plans to reboot the franchise. I’m not sure why Robocop movies stopped being made in the first place – I even thought Robocop 3 was pretty good – and while I’d love to see him back on the silver screen, I had some reservations about a modern interpretation.
Well, it turns out my fears weren’t misplaced as last week, Hitfix writer Drew McWeeny (his actual name) got his mitts on a copy of the script and used his Twitter account to inform the world of how shockingly shitty it sounded. On Twitter, Drew described a few cringe-worthy scenes from the film, including one where Robocop 1.0 (bearing close resemblance to the original design) is first shown to a focus group who proceed to laugh at him while shouting, “He looks like a toy from the 80s!”. He then gets redesigned as Robocop 2.0 to look ‘meaner’, which is where I’m guessing this concept art kicks in.
I’m kind of torn because while I love the original design, I do actually quite like the concept redesign. It’s not Robocop, but it’s kind of cool. It reminds me of the suits in the videogame Crysis or something. However, the original suit is so iconic that to ridicule your source material so openly seems kind of stupid. I’m not sold.
Anyway, suit aside, the next nugget of information leaked from the script is definitely unforgivable; Robocop is a transformer! He will apparently be switching from “social mode” to “combat mode” numerous times throughout the film, which is completely lame. Why does he need to transform into anything? Apart from being a pretty obvious action figure marketing ploy, I don’t see the need for any transforming to be occurring. Make him be a bad-ass all the time. When I was a kid, for an unstoppable reanimated crime fighting cyborg to have any social skills at all would see me begging Santa Claus for Terminator toys that year. The only thing I want to see Robocop transforming is punks… into mush.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. The script is riddled with plenty of other horrible stuff including Robocop 3.0 fighting Al Queda terrorists, a fleet of ED-209s (the terrifying stop motion animated killer robot from the original) taking down suicide bombers in Iran, and loads of really embarrassing gags referencing the original film – “I think it’s safe to say that Alex Murphy is now part man, part machine, ALL COP!”. Wow.
The whole thing just sounds really uncool. It’s predictable, safe, and kind of feels like a group of old, out of touch dudes making a film for kids. While I appreciate that terrorism is an issue indicative of modern times, this clumsy approach feels overly patriotic and dumb. While children might buy into watching Robocop senselessly blowing away terrorists while draped in the star spangled banner, it’s a far cry from Paul Verhoeven’s dark and visceral social commentary. I’ll bet that it’s rated 12. I’ll bet that no-one even gets their arm blown off!
Interestingly, McWeeny goes on to say that behind all the bullshit changes the story is actually pretty strong, and when you consider that the film boasts an impressive A-list cast comprising Samuel L. Jackson, Hugh Laurie, and Gary Oldman, there’s an ever so slim chance that it could turn out to be a killer movie. But from the looks of the leaked script, my money is on it sucking some serious ass.
Thank you for your cooperation.