Thoughts on the Robocop Remake

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There are no spoilers in this post — nothing you wouldn’t know from watching the trailers. But, I’ll put part of it behind a cut anyway.

Our brother in law took us out to see Robocop last night. We weren’t going to see it otherwise; it was definitely something we didn’t want to pay money for.

It wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be. It wasn’t terrible.

It wasn’t awesome, either.

I feel that they had a lot of interesting ideas that should have been spun out and explored in a movie not attached to the Robocop name. If they’d stripped out the references and the homage bits and called it something else, turned it into something original, and taken it further (which they can’t do so long as they call it Robocop), I think they could have had a really good, original science-fiction film.

Honestly, trying to make it a Robocop remake I think just held them back from what could have been a new, fresh film. Which is unfortunate, because Hollywood is kind of full of half-assed reboots and remakes these days. It’d be nice to see more new things. 

I also wasn’t impressed with the female presence in the film. In the original Robocop Anne Lewis was a badass cop who was unstoppable, and that was without being turned into a half-robot killing machine. In the new Robocop, she doesn’t exist — Murphy’s partner is Jack Lewis, and he’s nowhere near as badass as Anne was.

Officer Anne Lewis’ first action in the original was kicking criminal ass, and her last was responding to multiple gunshot wounds with high-explosive armor-piercing assault cannon fire.

She was so tough, she endured all three RoboCops. Even the original RoboCop wasn’t tough enough to take that, and he had armor to hide his face and shame. But the new movie hated the idea of a tough woman so much that they turned her into a man and then shot her anyway, all before RoboCop even turns up.

The wife? I’ve met teaspoons with more emotional depth. Clara Murphy stayed locked in sadness and tears mode for 99% of the film. The other 1% she was sad but not crying. OH MY GODS HOW DYNAMIC

The woman from Omnicorp’s Legal dept (Liz Kline) and the chief of police (Karen Dean) were almost as one-dimensional as the wife. The only female character I felt interested in at all, as a character, was Dr. Morgan’s lab assistant (Jae Kim). She had some depth.

Also, the film did not pass the Bechdel test — which is not a measurement of the depth or complexity of female characters, or even a measurement of how feminist a film is; it is a measurement of the presence of women who are not accessories to men. Every conversation the women had, if they interacted at all, was about Alex Murphy. You can make the argument that he’s more machine than man so the movie technically passes, but I will give you the side-eye so hard you won’t know what hit you.

By itself a failure to pass the Bechdel test doesn’t say anything about the depth or complexity of the female characters in a film or movie. Combined with the shitty treatment of female characters in RoboCop, it says a lot.

It’s pretty sad that the 2014 remake of a 1987 film did worse than the original with regards to depth and range of female characters when it had 4x as many chances to get it right.

Verdict: don’t see this one in the theatres. Wait till it’s out on Netflix. (Especially if you’re like me and get motion sickness from shaky cam — being able to pause is really helpful. As it was I spent lots of scenes with my eyes closed.)