Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O'Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer, Robert DoQui, Ray Wise
Written by: Edward Neumeier, Michael Miner
Directed by: Paul Verhoeven
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 103
Date: 07/17/1987
IMDB

Robocop (1987)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Sock 'Em Robot

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Dutch director Paul Verhoeven (The Fourth Man, Flesh + Blood) made his American debut with the brilliant action sci-fi satire Robocop (1987) that surprised nearly everyone when it opened in the summer of 1987.

In the near future, Detroit has farmed out the operation of the police department to a private corporation, OCP, and the result is a crime-ridden wasteland. Into this mess walks a new transfer, Murphy (Peter Weller), who gets partnered with a lady cop, Lewis (Nancy Allen). While chasing a band of dangerous killers, Murphy is killed, but resurrected as an OCP project, Robocop. Robocop goes after his killers, but finds that they are under OCP protection.

Though some of the music, hair and costumes may be a bit dated, the idea of a corporate villain is even more relevant today than it was in the 1980s. The current documentary The Corporation explores the idea of privatization, but Robocop draws up a fictitious model that's much more frightening. If that weren't enough, Verhoeven spoofs our obsession with media and consumerism with the film's occasional commercial interruptions, hyping bizarre TV shows and products. Everyone in the film covets the latest hot car, the 6000 SUX, which "goes really fast and gets really s--tty gas mileage."

None of this would matter if characters didn't give us an emotional entrance into the film, and they do. Weller is magnificent in the lead, lending grace and balance to his role (he reportedly studied with a mime to come up with Robocop's fluid movements). Despite its slam-bang action, the movie succeeds in its smallest moments, such as when Robocop fights an evil robot, also designed and built by competing factions within OCP and presented in glorious stop-motion animation. Robocop runs down a staircase, but the evil robot's feet are too big to fit on the individual stairs.

Currently, I own Robocop in MGM's "Robocop Trilogy" Blu-ray box set, and I'm more than happy with it.

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