So… with all the shit that’s been going down in the last few months, can we all agree that this is a horror movie now?
Robocop is like a Michael Bay movie before Michael Bay movies were a thing. The story is incredibly stupid, featuring cheesy dialogue, awkward acting, and gore so over-the-top that you wonder why the hell there were so many toys for children made about this movie. Thankfully, this movie has a bit more to enjoy than brain-dead violence. But it’s still a goofy, dumb action movie.
The story is simple. Murphy is a cop who dies on the job. His corpse is picked up by big totally-not-evil corporation and transformed into Robocop, the ultimate in law enforcement. But when his memories start to return, Murphy is set on a crash-course against the city’s worst criminals and his corporate owners. Will our cyborg hero overcome his programing, regain his humanity, and save the city?
Let’s start with the story. It’s really not a complicated plot. And in terms of concept, it isn’t a bad one at all! A man turned cyborg who has to fight to regain his humanity? It’s a story that could work. And it kind of does.
At least, it would if they weren’t so focused on excessive violence and cursing.
I swear to God, this movie’s got a fucking fetish for violence! Not a single character death isn’t accompanied by a spray of blood so excessive and messy that it paints the whole room crimson! No wonder they put Robocop in Mortal Kombat!
On top of that, a good 90% of the dialogue is just people cursing. Don’t get me wrong, I love to curse. But there comes a point where you need to stop and let your dialogue serve the story. You don’t need to put ten vulgarities into every single sentence.
There is very little actual character building in this movie. Murphy’s whole personality is ‘I have a kid who likes fancy gun tricks’. Which isn’t a personality. This lack of depth applies to every character; they’re either a heartless asshole or just… nothing.
This leads to the emotional beats of the story ringing hollow. Why should I care about the relationship between Murphy and Lewis when they shared all of three lines of dialogue together before he ‘died’? Why should I care about Murphy’s family being gone when we never even saw them together?
It certainly isn’t helped by how bad the acting is. Murphy sounds like a robot well before he becomes Robocop. Everyone else feels like they’re confused, like they don’t know what they’re doing, but are trying to sound like they do. Thankfully, it’s the fun kind of bad acting. The kind where you can tell the actors were still having fun, which ends up being infectious. It’s the enjoyable kind of bad.
The visuals haven’t aged as gracefully as other movies of the era. The stop motion animation of ED-209 is a bit rough. The Robocop suit itself doesn’t look all that great; instead of looking like… you know, a robot… he looks more like a dude covered in flappy rubber plates. Time hasn’t been kind to this movie.
Although, in all fairness: the music is pretty great. The Robocop theme is catchy as hell and I get the distinct feeling that I’m gonna be humming it to myself for a while. The rest of the music isn’t as memorable, but it’s still pretty good. I only wish there was more of it. Only about one in three scenes in this movie actually has music to accompany it.
Robocop is a dumb movie. But if you need something stupid, cheesy, and gruesome to watch, I can think of few better. If you’re looking for something with actual substance, then look elsewhere. Otherwise, this one might be worth your time.
Besides, it’s at least not as bad as the 2014 remake.
One response to “Robocop (1987): The Dumbest, Bloodiest Movie I’ve Ever Seen”
Great review. Robocop on the surface level is this over the top gory action film synonymous with the 80s but it’s actually a hilarious satire of American culture. The film touches on the ethics of consent, capitalism and ownership, gentrification, media influence, and violent reactionary police procedure.