Robocop Midnight Movie Review
By Bret Dorman
When it comes to violence in movies there’s basically two kinds. Regular violence and ultra-violence. Most normal action movies have regular violence. Ultra-violence is usually reserved for the niche horror/action grindhouse type movies.
I remember the first time I watched Reservoir Dogs, I was watching it under the assumption it was an action movie and ultra-violent. I remember being disappointed. Sure there is a character bleeding to death the entire movie and a cop gets his ear cut off (off screen) and the movie is about cops and robbers and a heist (also off screen). But Reservoir Dogs was more about the talking and characters then the action and shooting. I was disappointed for sure… but it stuck with me. Reservoir Dogs was the first movie I had to re-rent and watch again (just a week or two after renting it the first time). The more I watched it the more it stuck with me and eventually became the movie that got me into movies.
Robocop on the other hand I went in under the assumption it was just a silly movie about a robot cop and assumed it would be like Die Hard or Predator. And while the movie is similar because its a bit cheesy but takes itself seriously enough, it is different in one aspect, ultra-violence.The Story: Alex Murphy (Frank Weller) is a cop who is killed and brought back as a cyborg for Justice. Dick Jones (Ronny cox) is a sleazeball corporate man in charge of trying to make things better and Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) is a ruthless cop killer. Also, Robocop spins his gun around before he holsters it in his leg!
Robocop isn’t like normal actioners, where people just get shot and die. Here, they get shot, then shot some more, then shot even more, and then get shot again. Even the main character goes through a torturous dismantling before being brought back to life only to get shot at again with a thousand or more bullets.
What I don’t get about most action movies that are Rated R is that they don’t have the level of squibb work that director Paul Verhoeven showcases in Robocop. Perhaps with this movie it seems more ‘appropriate’ because of the subject material, but once you get the R rating why not go for broke? Robocop though handles its subjects in small little moments and touches.Things like super gory chunky bits flying off people as they get shot multiple times makes this movie about violence without the characters ever having to talk about how they use violence to solve their problems. Robocop himself has no qualms about shooting any badguy instead of arresting them or seeking a peaceful route.
There’s also some haunting moments like Robocop piecing together his own death and former life. Looking at his own deceased file and seeing the face of the man who shot him are all handled without ever having speeches about the ethics of bringing a man back from the death in mechanical form. Some may see this as a problem, that the movie steers away from its issues and goes for silly action stuff, but it’s nice to see a movie show and not just tell. I appreciate a well written movie with great speeces explaining chracter’s thoughts as much as the next movie goer (Glengarry Glen Ross anyone?), but here its up to Frank Weller and buckets of blood and bullets to show us the true horrors of our crazy world.Which brings up the other thing that sets Robocop apart from most actioners, the satirical media elements. There’s a lot of dark comedy, which I am a big fan of. After the poor volunteer gets PERFORATED someone shouts out they should probably get a paramedic. While the news segments and commercials differ in tone they fit in nicely due to how over-the-top they are. Sprinkled in just the right amounts, the scripts works them in nicely and never goes into territory it doesn’t need to, like a forced love angle between Robocop and Officer Lewis.
What it all comes down to is Robocop is silly. The ED-209 roars like a lion and squeals like a pig when awkwardly flailing about. Murphy/Robocop twirl their gun around because of some silly kids show. There’s plenty of random one liners (You’re move, creep) that don’t seem very situation based or particularly relevant. At some point a man is transformed into a mutant. But the movie has heart, is willing to go some weird and unusual places, and most of all, is very super-duper ultra-violent.
Why You Must See It At Midnight: As movies gain certain reputations over the years, it can be hard for them to live up to the hype sometimes. What was ultra-violent then may not be now. But Robocop still manages to impress. Its focus on filth, sleazy characters, and massive amounts of bodily damage fit right in with the rowdy Midnight Movie crowd. So this Friday/Saturday, don’t make Music Box threaten you with “Dead or Alive, you’re coming to this showing”… give in to the greatest machine man cop who ever patrolled the streets of Detroit.