RoboCop: Enough like the original to like

Gary Wolcott, atomictown.comFebruary 11, 2014 

Film Review Robocop

This image released by Columbia Pictures shows Joel Kinnaman in a scene from "RoboCop." (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures - Sony, Kerry Hayes)


Based on the original screenplay, the new RoboCop has changes. It is enough like the old RoboCop to like, but still fresh enough to be, well, fresh. That's good.

Joel Kinnaman (TV's The Killing) is Alex Murphy AKA RoboCop. His is the only name taken from the 1987 version. Michael Keaton heads up a mega corporation that produces robot police. Only the United States refuses to make robot cops legal. Keaton's Raymond Sellars sees millions in profits being lost. A bright idea and a rule bend or two later, Sellars gets his mad scientist -- played nicely by Gary Oldman -- to create a hybrid human machine. People fall in love with RoboCop and everything changes.

The crime kingpin who almost killed Murphy must be taken down. But first RoboCop razzles, then dazzles us in a ratcheted up plot that reverses the original and has Murphy's wife and son front and center and the cop partner taking a back seat.

Abbie Cornish, Jackie Earle Haley, Jennifer Ehle, Jay Baruchel and Samuel L. Jackson playing a futuristic Bill O'Reilly round out the cast. While everything is properly dramatic, the cast -- especially Jackson and Haley -- gives a nod and a wink to much of the drama.

A lot of us grew up on Peter Weller's RoboCop. Fans of the 1987 flick do understand change, but the film is classic. Redoing classic is tricky. Not that it can't be done and even done well. It's just not easy. You can't just click on a few gears, plop in some whiz-bang state-of-the-art effects, rev up the machine and let it go.

Yes, Hollywood is out of ideas. Yes, this movie is a recycle of a much better idea, and yes, the writers change and -- in my opinion -- blow the great, original ending. But it's RoboCop, and even 27 years later, it's hard not to like.

Director: Jose Padilha

Stars: Joel Kinnaman, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish, Jackie Earle Haley, Jennifer Ehle, Jay Baruchel

Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It's playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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