Robocop

5 out of 5

Director: Paul Verhoeven

RoboCop is a solid movie. No pun intended, it’s just the kind of all-encompassing, front-to-back type of entertainment with a cohesive shooting style and score, hard-hitting effects, smart and willfully dumb (and thus smart again) scripting, and on-point production that is nigh-impossible to make in the current system, and with the type of audiences nowadays. This was right before CGI became the way to do things, but late enough in the movie game that they had the makeup and SFX chops to make it look good.  It was before we became too aware of ourselves to allow for the type of straight-ahead commitment Robocop offers, but late enough in the game that director Paul Verhoeven (and screenwriters Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner) could insert plenty of still-relevant satire and trust their audience to get it.  It’s that era of action – Die Hard, Terminator – where the movies could have weighty plots, involving characters, and even some deeper thoughts without becoming stupid, bloaty Bruckheimer productions… Something about the world right before the internet took over, maybe.

The plot itself is fun but fairly simple from a top down view: a cop getting blown to bits gives some corporate cats the chance to try out their new RoboCop program, which makes for a cyborg crimefighter.  Cue some light and funny commentary about corporations and explorations of the human condition.  But lead actor Peter Weller and director Verhoeven smartly show the main characters with personalities without going wayward on family or love subplots (a careful and purposeful balance), and the tight presentation keeps everything streamlined at an awesome and yet appropriate pace. Fights happen at the right time; the big robot reveal happens at the right time… RoboCop is probably funnier and not as violent as you remember, but it has maintained its ability to be a smart and exciting action movie even in the wake of modern CGI blockbusters.

The Arrow bluray edition of the flick is just stunning, not only in quality of picture and sound, but we get a slew of extras on all different aspects of the movie (some new, some archival) which don’t cross over one another in terms of content, and three commentaries which are each worth listening to for the slightly different focuses they bring.  One of these commentaries is from the 2014 edition of the flick, but Arrow has reedited it to sync with either the director’s cut (on disc 1) or theatrical cut (on disc 2), which is just, like, the kind of fan-service labels like Arrow are so good at.  The second disc offers the theatrical and TV cut, for kicks, as well as a shorter side-by-side comparison reel if you don’t feel like watching the whole movie three times just to spot the differences.  Also includes a thick booklet and poster.

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