The Eighties Fever: ‘RoboCop’ (1987)

What happens when you review thirty year old films from the perspective of someone who gets classified as a millennial, but wouldn’t really consider himself one? With both popular and obscure films on the list, it’s a mixture of new insights into old films, all while celebrating what might just be the greatest decade ever. This is The Eighties Fever.

Viewing: First Time

It takes a great man to admit when he’s made a mistake. So I have no problem admitting I made a mistake. RoboCop is a good film. In fact, I might go far enough to declare it a great film. If there is one thing I always say that eighties films get right its in their straight-to-the-point plot. RoboCop has that in spades although sometimes it does come across a bit too conveniently. I’m talking about the film’s use of newscasters to drop exposition and move the plot along. Specifically, I found the film opening with a newsreel of exposition was just a bit much. I could have done with maybe one or two news scenes to move the plot along.

However, when complaining about the news is my only negative thoughts on the film, you know that I had an enjoyable experience. There’s just so much to like about this film and a lot of that is thanks to Peter Weller‘s performance. The man is able to bring a range of emotion to the role of cop Alex Murphy and his later transformation into RoboCop. The realization late in the film that Murphy has become a cyborg and that his wife and son have moved on without him, you can see him process it all in his face.

But RoboCop isn’t just a man without memories, he also possesses some pretty badass moves and catchphrases. “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me” has to be one of the best lines I have ever heard in a film. Also, the gun twirl, so cool. Heck, even the design of RoboCop isn’t stupid when he’s actually in motion as opposed to just a picture of him. I think a lot of what makes RoboCop work is that it’s Murphy under all the robotics and that is crucial in making RoboCop tick. It’s clear by the end of the film that Murphy’s memories weren’t fully erased and while it’s not fully him, RoboCop’s motor functions are clearly derived from him.

Although, let’s take a second to ponder if the RoboCop program would even work in our society. We’ve grown up with movies like The Terminator where robots and technology have come alive and taken over. How many people would feel comfortable with robots protecting us? I can say that I wouldn’t even if the robot was once a former cop. Of course, I’d take a RoboCop over whatever monstrosity (apparently an ED-209) Dick Jones at OCP was trying to get onto the streets.

You know what else wouldn’t be seen on the streets? Whatever toxic waste deformity that one henchmen of Clarence Boddicker turned into. That scene of him all deformed and falling apart is the sole scene I saw from RoboCop years ago that swore me off the film. I thought it was some messed up shit. I still hold to that assumption, but that small movie moment does not diminish the rest of the film. Especially since one of the other henchmen is Ray Wise, also known as Robin’s father in How I Met Your Mother! RoboCop may be cool, but my favorite character was Wise’s Leon.

Some other moments I liked were when the ED-209 fell down the stairs and couldn’t get back up. It looked like a whining baby. I also found it quite funny when Officer Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen) couldn’t resist taking a quick look at the “Shit, mind if I zip this up” guy’s junk. The Nuclear war version of Battleship was also sort of funny. Oh the 80s and their Cold War worries. RoboCop’s “singular Wolverine claw” was pretty sweet too. But to top everything, I know know where that damn “I’d buy that for a dollar” gif comes from!

Overall, RoboCop is a cinematic delight. However, this was an eighties R-rated film so I should have expected nothing short of brilliance. After all, the eighties produced some of the best R-rated films of all-time. (Please note, I watched the unrated cut, so I saw way more blood than people in the eighties ever did watching this film.) It received 3 Oscar nominations winning a Special Achievement Award for Best Sound Editing. It absolutely cleaned up at the 15th Saturn Awards taking home the top prizes. I would easily check out RoboCop 2 since Weller reprises the role, but beyond that I’d have to think about continuing the series. I remember being somewhat interested in seeing the remake back in 2014, but I don’t know if I could watch a diluted PG-13 take on the character now. I’ll leave it up to the readers in the comments section to tell me which RoboCop films I should watch.

“Dead or alive, you’ve finished this review.”

Grade: 8.7/10