In recent years, we’ve seen the emergence of reboots of old classics with a new cast and new storyline–Judge Dredd (2010), Total Recall (2012) and Dawn of the Dead (2004) to name a few. When I saw 47 Rhonin in theaters on Christmas Day, I saw this movie trailer:
Unsurprisingly, the internet was in an uproar. It was typical “Lulz remake. Remakes suck hur hur!” all over the place. The biggest sticking point for folks leery of the remake is the fact that unlike the original, the remake is rated PG-13.
Having seen both movies, I can say they didn’t pull any punches with the remake. At the same time, it was made clear the 2014 version would both be recognizable to those who saw the 1987 version yet was its own movie. Before I talk about the plot, I will say that as a fan of the Sci-Fi genre much of the technologies shown off in the 2014 version already exists to an extent. The only things keeping it in Movies/TV/Video Games is politics and human rights concerns.
Here’s a few of the technologies shown off in the movie:
- VR Simulator: In one scene, Murphy is in a SWAT-style simulator competing against an android doing the same simulation. The U.S. Military uses VR simulators to try new tactics before they test in a real environment.
- Multi-Target Scanning and Tracking: After the VR scene, Murphy is pitted against 50 Androids and an expert marksman to fully test his combat capabilities in a real environment. During the lop-sided training excercise (Murphy wins, by the way) Murphy instantly scans and tracks all of the hostiles and once the battle begins, methodically takes them all down. While yes it’s explained during the test how he’s doing it the technology already exists and is used by military vehicles.
- Virtual Crime Scene Reconstruction: On his second return to his house after becoming RoboCop, Murphy uses the technology at his disposal to not only recreate what happened but to uncover a surprising new detatail: His son witnessed the blast that nearly killed him. Investigators and prosecutors do it in court every day across the country. CNN does it with acts of violence and high-profile military operations, most recently with the Osama bin Laden raid.
- Real Time CCTV Access: When he returns to the streets of Detroit as Robocop, Murphy is able to pull up and view live footage of every CCTV camera feed in the city through his visor. Believe me, the technology does exist but this is one of the two technologies that you don’t see now due to human rights concerns and also because let’s face it, we’re talking tens if not hundreds of thousands of cameras all over an American city. Even if you fully automated the system you’d still need to hire some folks to maintain it, hence the human rights concerns.
- Instant Access to Criminal Records and Case Files: Due to being mostly machine, Murphy has all Detroit’s Criminal Records and case file database downloaded directly into his brain, giving him instant access to the information he’ll need to do what he does. This is also demonstrated in the 1987 version. Police departments nationwide are making digital databases though officers in large cities like Boston, New York, Los Angeles and Miami can access criminal records and case files from their cars and department-issue tablet PCs.
- Threat, Mood and Vitality Monitor: In both the reboot and the 1987 version RoboCop (and the robots in the reboot) can assess a person’s mood, vitality and threat level just by looking at them. In the reboot this is shown off by robots in the beginning of the movie. The technology is a bit more sophisticated in the reboot though: Basically, if you’re brandishing a weapon you’re considered a threat. Your demeanor while you’re talking to it is used to decide how best to proceed. Vitality and Mood monitors are being used already in the medical field though the Threat detection technology is very new. The thing about the movie is they’re all used toegether and in some cases simultaneously. Even with the human factor present, the technology does present valid human rights and legal concerns.
Whew. Now that I’ve gone over the technology, let’s talk about the movie itself. Again, it helps if you don’t compare it to the 1987 version while you’re watching it. If you set expectations going in you’re probably going to be disappointed. First, let me talk about the sticking point I mentioned earlier about the reboot being PG-13 while the 1987 version is rated R.
I think it would be a fair assumption Murphy’s Execution Scene is the main reason the 1987 version is rated R. In the Execution Scene, Murphy’s right hand and then his entire right arm is shot off before he is shot full of bullets by 4 people at point blank range. Remarkably, he survives getting shot over two dozen times before he’s finished off with a bullet to the head. I’d link you to a clip of the scene I just described but perhaps in a bid to get ahead of fanmade comparison videos, You Tube purged the site of clips of that particular scene of the 1987 movie. No surprise given 27 years later it’s considered one the most disturbing death scenes in movie history.
Now let’s look at the 2014 version. In the reboot, Murphy is nearly blown in half when his car explodes. In the next scene you see him in a hospital bed missing his left arm and left leg. Three months later, when he wakes up his head, heart, lungs and right hand are the only organic parts of him left (interestingly, in the 1987 version the scientists argue about weather or not to keep his left arm during his transformation). The rest of him is mechanical. Though he is more machine than man, as is revealed during his waking sequence Murphy can still dream. Most of his brain is intact but he does have some cybernetic implants that allow him to use his new body.
It’s interesting to note his relationship with his partner is almost unchanged when he comes back. It’s also interesting to see how the doctor who made him RoboCop came to truly care about him by the end of the movie. You will notice in the final scene with them together Murphy now sports the “Old School” RoboCop look and no longer has the Ominicorp logo on his chest.
The biggest change from the 1987 version is Murphy’s family is still in the picture after he becomes RoboCop. In the 1987 version we don’t hear from his family after he becomes RoboCop though in canon comic books it’s simply stated his wife and son left Detroit after he was “killed” and were kept in the dark about what happened to him afterward. In the 2014 version his wife consents to the operation. OmniCorp tried to keep him separated from his family but in the end the human side of RoboCop is the dominent side. He even defied programming that should have stopped him from shooting the president of Omnicorp.
Overall, I give the movie a 9/10. I look forward to seeing where they go with RoboCop when and if there’s a sequel. As I said at the top, it gives respect to the original 1987 movie but makes it clear the 2014 movie is a separate movie entirely.