RoboCop – 2014 (Blu-ray Review)

Robocop-2014It’s the reboot that seemed an interesting but dangerous venture.  The original Paul Verhoven classic is damn near as perfect a movie as you can get.  As unnecessary as the reboot sounded, interesting names kept popping into it.  At the outset, this was a Darren Aronofsky project, but he exited.  Even the eventual director Jose Padilha was kind of an exciting choice.  Then the cast of side characters came with friendly names.  Robocop himself was an actor that I am a big fan of in The Killing and Snabba Cash’s Joel Kinnaman.  And apparently, by rule of Brian White, I must review every Joel Kinnaman film that comes across the desks at Why So Blu.  So, unfortunately that meant I had to go back to modern Detroit and visit Alex Murphy again in a movie I have dubbed “Fauxbocop”.  I really wanted this movie to be good, but in the end it struggled to battle being generic.  My feelings alone and America aside, the film was a pretty solid global hit with a worldwide take of over $242.5 million in box office.

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2014’s new model of Robocop is a well-acted affair of action mediocrity that has a few interesting ideas and attempts topical relevance, but is largely pedestrian and ultimately forgettable.  It never reaches goofy realms that the previous follow ups to Robocop had, but at least those films had some guts, took chances and attempted to make a mark.  This new rendition is a completely safe affair that seems to worry too much about being slick and over explaining how everything in Robocop’s world works.  Much like Paul Verhoeven’s other remade work Total Recall, its another shining example that maybe we should leave his stuff alone (unless he wants to come back to it) as he seems to be the only one that truly understands how to make them work.

Remake-ocop’s new take is a commentary about drones, and Robocop is ultimately the tool that will make the public and politicians swing their opinion on them.  Alex Murphy…he’s a cop who’s getting dangerously close to taking down a big crime boss that ultimately will reveal a lot of corruption in the Detroit Police Department.  Murphy is taken out via a car bomb.  Murphy, by the consent of his wife, becomes the candidate to be the first Robocop.

One of the biggest shames of this film and its greatest strength is that its well cast and well acted.  I’m a big fan of Joel Kinnaman and I thought he was fine as Murphy.  The greatest joy in this movie comes from watching Earth 1 Batman and Earth 2 Commissioner Gordon square off.  Of course I’m talking about Michael Keaton and Gary Oldman.  Gary Oldman once again gives a damn fine performance wasted on a poor movie.  He and Keaton’s commitment to the material at times may have you mistaking this for a solid movie at times.  Fear not, you’re quickly reminded.  Michael K Williams is absolutely wasted here as the gender and race bended partner Lewis, who really need not have even been named Lewis…but I guess that’s a wink to the fans. 

This new Robocop flips the script and has this one dealing with a man coping with being a machine as opposed to a machine trying to discover what is was like to once be human.  So, there’s much more involvement and interaction with family post-creation.  The problem being, we spend so much time on Robo’s training and construction, after taking a bit to get there, that when Robocop appears for the first time there’s not a whole lot of time to cover all the ground they’re attempting to confront.  Every little plot point and storyline for Robocop once he returns to Detroit is ultimately rushed and entirely shallow.  When he’s first set in place its pretty much a race to the finish.  Some stuff and issues show up, but are barely touched upon and onto the next thing as soon as they show their face.

One place that this film could have at least redeemed itself is in the action.  But, like a lot of PG-13 movies that come from R-rated inspirations, it was generic and uninteresting.  I understand the limitations of PG-13, but this movie should have done its best to push them.  It was extremely tame.  Robocop now prefers the use of the obviously PG-13 friendly taser gun.  There’s no creative kills or vicious ones, its all just gun shots and falling down.  Nothing to shock you, make you jump or get squeemish.  There were some effects with the action that reminded me of the old game Virtua Cop and the violence is pretty much equal in tame-ness with that game (if you remember it).  Also in the field of not having balls, the character Jay Baruchel played, all the way to the costuming and the beard, just SCREEEAAAMMMED yuppy coke-head.  It seemed perfect to have a scene of that guy loading up on some blow.  If this had been an 80s movie, you KNOW that would have been included.

The villains in this new rendition are incredibly lame and boring.  I think the movie thinks so too.  For as much time as we have to spend on Robo’s training and test operations, the film’s villain who is responsible for Murphy’s assassination attempt is relatively vanilla and an incredibly throw away character.  We should be pumped to see Murphy go after him, but we barely know squat about him and the actor brings so much nothing to it (in a film that is rather well performed, he’s not terrible, not an incredibly weak link, but the guy’s plainness sticks out), its a relatively joyless and uninteresting affair when it comes to ahead.  And the result is even more dull and offensive.

Robocop’s 2014 make-over wanted to serve a purpose and say something, but ultimately it was just a little table dressing for a kind of boring generic sci-fi aciton film.  It’s a well acted snoozer that has no balls and plays it far too safe, as exampled by using the original series canon’s theme song in spots.  I didn’t really take issue with any of Robocop’s looks or outfits (I kind dig the new visor), but the original costume will always be king.  After Total Recall and then Robocop, I think its safe to say when it comes across some execs desk, they should do well to just leave Starship Troopers alone.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2:40.1

Clarity/Detail: Well, while the movie wasn’t my cup of tea, the picture quality is.  Its pretty close to reference quality.  The Image is crisp, clear and razor sharp.  There’s a lot of detail and its cool to be able to make out every bit of tech on screen.  A very expected, but impressive picture quality nonetheless.

Depth:  Being a newer film, the depth is quite good between foreground and background characters.  Especially in the training sequences.  Also some of the scale of the city is pretty impressive as well.

Black Levels: Black levels are quite distinct and a good presence.  There’s a lot of balance and variation on the Robocop outfit that is quite impressive.  In other areas it helps to define objects without losing detail.

Color Reproduction:  There’s a variation depending on the setting.  In training sequences colors a lot more mute and dingy, but in city sequence they let loose and are striking when applicable.  Its not an incredibly colorful film, but when they are there its great.

Flesh Tones:  Solid and consistent with plenty of variation from character to character.

Noise/Artifacts: Not one instance.

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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Hindi 5.1 Dolby Digital, Urdu 5.1 Dolby Digital, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Indonesian, Korean, Malaysian, Mandarin, Thai, Vietnamese

Dynamics:  This audio track definitely compliments the video.  Its a loud boisterous track that is action back and will rumble your viewing room.  This coupled with the video really gives this movie its best chance for a new viewer and really gives it its all.  There’s a great balance between score, effects and dialogue that works seemlessly and very natural.

Low Frequency Extension: Guns fire, bombs explode, things come crashing down, this track is KICKING!  The subwoofer really enhances the experience of the film.

Surround Sound Presentation:  There’s plenty going on in moments like the training exercises and action sequences to make this more than the normal back speaker affair.  Its an active track creating a great sense of space and environment.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is crisp, clear and sounds perfectly ideal.

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The new Robocop comes with a DVD copy and Digital Copy of the film.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 3:59) 

Omnicorp Product Announcement (HD, 3:27) – Ads for Omnicorp stuff including Exo-Skeleton, EM-208, ED-209, XT-908, Cruiser 1, TSR-66, M2 Battle Rifle, RC-2000 V1, RC-2000 V3, Next Generation RoboCop

RoboCop: Engineered For The 21st Century

  • The Illusion Of Free Will: A New Vision (HD, 7:46) – A focus on the new film versus the old one.
  • To Serve And Protect: RoboCop’s New Weapons (HD, 6:05) – A look at the weapons in the film and Joel Kinnaman’s weapon training to prepare for his role.
  • The RoboCop Suit: Form And Function (HD, 14:54) – A featurette on crafting the new suit and the challenges of wearing it while shooting.

Theatrical Trailer 1 (HD, 2:12)

Theatrical Trailer 2 (HD, 2:12)

Sneak Peak – Trailers for MGM 90th Anniversary, RoboCop: The Official Game, X-Men: Days Of Future Past, 3 Days To Kill, Sons Of Anarchy – Season 6, Hannibal – Season 2

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Okay, so I found the movie wildly mediocre but this Blu-ray is actually pretty terrific.  The presentation of the film is outstanding, and I wouldn’t be surprised if those equipped with some great home theater equipment ending up enjoying this movie quite a bit more than theater going audiences did because of it.  The video and audio get a great big bravo from here.  The extras are pretty solid here as well.  My only qualm with the release is the film itself, which ends up just being much too mediocre for my tastes, although I did enjoy it a little bit more this time around.  This one is also surprisingly already at a pretty low price for a new release.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

2 Responses to “RoboCop – 2014 (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Brian White

    Regardless of what you thought of the film this was a very solid and thorough review for a film you didn’t care so much for. Great read and work B!

  2. Why So Blu’s Staff Picks For 2014’s Best Films of the Year… So Far at Why So Blu?

    […] Worst – Robocop – I feel sort of lucky that this is the worst film I’ve yet to encounter this year (and my second worst by no means belongs on any “Worst list”).  I’m positive there has probably been far more foul stuff out there.  With two kids nowadays, I just can’t see everything to see everything for my “Worst” pick to be fully legitimized.  And I’m not rushing to see the “bad ones”, so I’ve taken far more to taking a strong majority’s word for it for now and I’ll get to some of them later.  Robocop wasn’t absolutely terrible for me, it was just wildly mediocre, boring and seemed afraid to get fully on board with any new ideas it sort of wanted to steer the Alex Murphy ship with.  Not my cup of tea, but I mentioned in my review while I wasn’t a fan of it, I’m sure there’s a large quantity that will be ok with it and maybe some that will really like it.  But, I must thank this movie as it got us a delicious new transfer of the original on Blu-ray! (Review HERE) […]