Yes I had my reservations going into this. Remakes… will Hollywood ever just leave things alone? But I digress. This new version of the 1987 classic action-thriller stars relative unknown Joel Kinnaman as ill-fated gutsy cop Alex Murphy hot on the heels of a drug kingpin. Yet after disaster strikes, leaving him in critical condition, the shady robotics company Omnicorp come up with the idea of turning him into their new machine on the Detroit mean streets … that’s right, RoboCop!
Michael Keaton (yes…Michael Keaton!) plays a business man who following a law prohibiting machines being aloud to enforce the law on U.S. soil, turns to a scientist (Gary Oldman) who may just be able to put a friendly face to his master plan. Co-starring Jackie Earle Haley as a weapons tech guy whose a bit of a nutter himself, and the delectable Abbie Cornish (Sucker Punch) as Murphy’s wife – this has some good star appeal. With a more family-friendly rating we’re not going to get the hardcore bloodshed of the original (and it tells) but this does go for a very different flavour, focusing more of the Murphy attempting to hold onto who he is (or was) rather than the sleaze and excess of the Paul Verheoven movie.
Action is fairly frequent, with some decent effects (the robots look great) even if the training, testing and development of RoboCop seems to go on forever. Also the lead bad guy is a no-name charisma-free presence that can’t hold a candle to Kurtwood Smith’s Clarence Bodikker. Thankfully then, the movie chooses to focus more on OmniCorp and the morality than the drug dealers.
When switching off from the original this can be enjoyed quite easily on its own merits as a slick, imaginative and fun experience, filled with good performances (even Kinnaman in a tricky role) and some star names (Samuel L. Jackson crops up as a media guru – even if he’s not exactly stretched).
Likable, lightweight but worth seeing. Definitely in a lower league, but a nice tribute all the same.
Although the idea of remakes as a concept usually makes me gag, in the advent of the actually rather great Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and the passable Hills Have Eyes, I don’t immediately switch off at the prospect anymore. Yet with this, they were about to jump on a whole different beast.
The Freddy franchise was a long running hit-and-miss affair with at least two very good outings; the original still stands as one of the best horror movies ever made, and part 3, Dream Warriors is still a great deal of fun. But apart from those, with the exception of the most recent ‘New Nightmare’, they have been money-making rubbish, rapidly running out of ideas. Step forward Jackie Earle Haley, fresh off his acclaimed turn in Watchmen as the vengeful Rorschach, armed with a steady slew of teaser trailers – and it was looking very promising that the man in the striped sweater and fedora was going to scare us all over again.
Platinum Dunes, the production company responsible for ‘Chainsaw and the recent Friday The 13th reboot, once again offer us something both familiar and competently made, with a slew of imaginative dream sequences, some decent effects, a no name teen (see: twenty something) cast of pretty people, and a commendable performance from Haley. He brings his own personality to Freddy that is not too far removed from Rorschach, but still toe-curlingly unpleasant and creepy. A hint of the wise cracking Freddy from the sequels emerges, but the unreasoning malevolence of Freddy in the first two movies is back. The movie pays homage to key moments from the original, whilst adding some ideas of its own, but lacks the hardcore shock factor than made the first film strike such a cord. At times I felt the makers of this were holding back. This is 2010 for Christ’s sake, and a film from 1984 had more balls! Also there is nobody here filling out the cast to hold a candle to say Heather Langenkamp or John Saxon. Yet despite such drawbacks, this offers a new spin on Freddy’s origins, bringing home a more real and less boogeyman-like predator, and along with plenty of jump scares and decent if restrained kills – this is by no means as bad as it could have been.
Just remember kids – the original is always the best.
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