Robocop

RoboCop (2014, José Padilha)

RoboCop is terrible. It’s long, it’s poorly directed, it’s badly acted. One almost doesn’t want to acknowledge it because then it has to be discussed. At least in how it does contain some subjects ripe for discussion. Like how a badly doctored script can create frustration at missed potential. Missed potential, however, being a euphemism for “a little better than excruciatingly bad.”

Because RoboCop manages to outdo itself. It’s worse in its whole than in its parts, which is quite an accomplishment given the fractured script styles. The film is so disjointed, so cobbled together, it’s like no one bothered writing bridging scenes. Because it can’t be a stylistic choice of director Padilha; he’s got zero personality (unless he’s the unlikely reason for the film’s multiple Tron and Tron 2 nods). The action scenes in the film are exceptionally unimaginative. It’s like Padilha is directing video game cut scenes; he’s entirely divested in the film’s sets. Though a lot of it appears to be green screens, which doesn’t help any of the actors.

The film has a lot of actors I like. Michael Keaton, Michael Kenneth Williams, Jackie Earle Haley, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Jennifer Ehle, Zach Grenier, Jay Baruchel. Yes, Jay Baruchel. With the exception of Ehle, all of them are terrible. The film’s script, as far as dialogue goes (because it does have better plotted sequences), is awful. All of it. There’s not a single good moment. It’s Keaton as Steve Jobs and they fumble it because the script with the political stuff doesn’t get to overshadow the script with the “man wakes up a robot cop” script. It’s like watching multiple television pilots, all shot with the same cast and the same bored director, cut together.

It’d be hilarious if there really was a tortured history to the RoboCop remake, full of reshoots and weird test screenings, but there isn’t (at least not according to IMDb). Someone intentionally made a movie this crappy. Here we go. Let’s do a synopsis.

Joel Kinnaman plays a Detroit cop, he talks like he thinks he’s Vin Diesel and struts like he thinks he’s Paul Walker. Yes, I just made that statement. I just referenced The Fast and the Furious and my unlikely familiarity with the franchise. Does Orson Welles get a lot of callouts? No. I just called out Fast and Furious. RoboCop: The New Movie has brought me to that low point. But RoboCop rides a lightcycle from Tron in this movie. How can anyone possibly take it seriously? It’s a guy in a rubber suit. The RoboCop suit is inept. It doesn’t just look like rubber, when Abbie Cornish hugs RoboCop (she’s his wife), her head leaves an impression on the rubber. It’s all so incredibly lazy.

Though if Luc Besson had made it with Bruce Willis as RoboCop, Gary Oldman playing his role with some enthusiasm and camp (it couldn’t be worse than his Robin Williams impression here), Milla Jovovich as Jackie Early Haley, Chris Tucker as Samuel L. Jackson (he’s awful), maybe Ian Holm as Williams (I’m starting to stretch) and Luke Perry as Keaton’s tech visionary… well, it’d be awesome. If Besson had turned a RoboCop remake into a Fifth Element rehash, it’d be awesome.

But RoboCop isn’t sort of a success where you can see the potential for more success. It’s a zero. Paul W.S. Anderson would’ve turned this thing down. It’s not even competent enough to be a Lifetime movie (and a Lifetime movie about a woman who signs away her husband’s rights so he can become a man-cop robot, but who the film treats like he’s not just a few chunks on the coroner’s table, except one hand so he can touch his family and really feel again, would be amazing).

Kinnaman and Cornish are terrible. Padilha’s direction of them is terrible, but their performances are terrible too. Kinnaman’s entirely miscast, entirely out of his depth. Cornish doesn’t have a good part, can’t even do the scenes she does get.

RoboCop is that wonderful, rare animal. It’s so commercial, it won’t try anything. It thinks doing Samuel L. Jackson as Bill O’Reilly as Samuel L. Jackson will be seen as edgy. It’s not even committed enough to try to be edgy.

I can’t even say I “hate watched” it; it’s immediately not worth any investment whatsoever.

Oh, and one more thing. Guns, guns, guns. Action movies with questionable philosophies about fascist police states can’t be action movies with questionable philosophies about fascist police states without loving guns. It’s true. You can do a war movie without loving guns and many have, but you can’t do a movie about “super cops” shooting up the bad guys without gun fetishization.

It’s a no brainer and Padilha drops the ball on it, just like everything else in the film.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by José Padilha; screenplay by Joshua Zetumer, Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner, based on the film written by Neumeier and Miner; director of photography, Lula Carvalho; edited by Peter McNulty and Daniel Rezende; music by Pedro Bromfman; production designer, Martin Whist; produced by Marc Abraham and Eric Newman; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Joel Kinnaman (Alex Murphy), Gary Oldman (Dr. Dennett Norton), Michael Keaton (Raymond Sellars), Abbie Cornish (Clara Murphy), Jackie Earle Haley (Rick Mattox), Michael Kenneth Williams (Jack Lewis), Jennifer Ehle (Liz Kline), Jay Baruchel (Tom Pope), Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Chief Karen Dean), Zach Grenier (Senator Hubert Dreyfus), Aimee Garcia (Jae Kim), Douglas Urbanski (Mayor Durant) and Samuel L. Jackson (Pat Novak).


Robocop 8 (February 2015)

Robocop #8I’m not sure how I’d describe Killian, Williamson’s long-in-the-tooth antagonist in Robocop, but soap opera tough guy might be the best description. There’s no depth to the character, which is starting to get really annoying. Though Magno’s design for the him does look a lot like an eighties tough guy, which fits in with it being a sequel to Robocop.

This issue has Williamson lift a scene from Batman Returns to get stuff done, which is fine (there’s nothing else to do in that situation), but the parts with Robocop all of a sudden an upgraded superhero, doing things impossible to do with a man in a tin can suit? It’s where Robocop breaks. It’s where you can’t suspend disbelief long enough to hear Peter Weller’s voice saying the lines.

Williamson is still earnest with Robocop, but he’s not restrained enough. Not having a “budget” hurts it.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Robocop 7 (January 2015)

Robocop #7Seeing Robocop run–he gets upgraded–reminds of two things. First, it’s like running zombies. Second, it’s a little like Batman on ice skates. It’s just too much. Magno’s art is stronger than it has been in the last few issues so he’s able to tone it down and keep the action grounded, but it’s still too much.

However, Robocop being faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound isn’t the emphasis of the issue. The cops finally get around to going after the bad guy; Murphy gets some evidence, Lewis gets some evidence. Williamson’s Mr. Big is going down!

But not this issue. This issue has a boring hard cliffhanger.

Still, Magno does well with all the action and talking heads and so on and Williamson does really well with Lewis’s arc this issue. It’s problematic licensed property stuff, but still worthwhile.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Robocop 6 (December 2014)

Robocop #6It’s a bridging issue. An undercover cop goes after Killian–in one of Williamson’s most unexpected moves, the character (who everyone is accusing of being an undercover cop) turns out to be an undercover cop just in time for the cliffhanger. Robocop gets beat up by the new ED–209, which has a silly name I can’t remember. And Anne Lewis gets into a yelling match about how she’s not going to back down from her job (with another female detective).

And Robocop gets new legs. He can run now. Not quite a jetpack, but… a running Robocop.

Next time, because this issue is a bridging issue.

It’d probably be okay if it weren’t for some real compositional laziness on Magno’s part. He’s wasting a lot of space, with angles intended to fill space with blah content. Without anything particularly good in the narrative, the art pitfalls hurt the issue.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Robocop 5 (November 2015)

Robocop #5Once again, there are occasional moments where this issue of Robocop feels a little bit too much like Robocop 2. Not even the action, but the way Williamson is moving things along for Murphy. The evil OCP conspiracy, him having to get fixed. In terms of action, however, there is an ED–209 fight and Murphy having a super-nightstick instead of a gun.

Also, Robocop not getting a gun feels a little too much like Robocop 2 as well.

I hate bringing up those comparisons, but Williamson was setting Robocop the comic up to be something different. Magno’s art is still gritty (though really problematic in this issue) so some of the details really don’t play.

But there’s good character work on Lewis, if her dialogue gets a little too much towards the end of her scenes. And some nice small parts from familiar movie characters.

Not bad stuff.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Robocop: Last Stand 8 (March 2014)

Robocop Last Stand 008 CoverSo Ed Brisson gets the job of sending the original Robocop into the sunset. My first thought–he does an admirable job, though he could have easily turned it into three issues. He’s got a lot of ideas for how to bring things together. And that spark, even if it’s hilarious fan fulfillment, leads me to my second thought.

It’ll be too bad if Boom! doesn’t continue with the license for these types of series. Experimental ones, where an artist like Öztekin gets free run. Or, if the artist doesn’t get free run, at least it appears he or she does.

This issue, with Brisson’s writing, makes me want more of he and Öztekin’s Robocop. Maybe a prequel… the creative spark seems like it might have mileage.

Robocop, regardless of marketers, was never a film needing a sequel. But Brisson and Öztekin give that franchise a fine send off.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Korkut Öztekin; colorist, Michael Garland; letterer, Ryan Ferrier; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Robocop: Beta 1 (February 2014)

Robocop Beta PRESS 1I feel bad for the creators on Robocop: Beta, it’s not their fault the comic fails, it’s just the nature of pointless movie tie-ins. Otherwise it’s not a bad comic. It’s even got a good reveal at the end, it just doesn’t have anything else going for it. Ed Brisson’s able to give it a solid three act structure and Emilio Laiso’s art is decent.

Well, the art is decent for digest size. It’s hard to explain why, but it seems too big for the standard comic page. At a smaller size, it’d be a lot more effective. But it’s still perfectly serviceable art and the way Laiso draws the Michael Keaton character is nice. Not too photo-referenced but still recognizable.

Brisson can’t do anything with the comic because the comic is, as a part of the conclusion, supposed to be disposable.

It’s pointless and everybody knows.

C- 

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Emilo Laiso; colorist, Michael Garland; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer, Ian Brill and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Robocop: Memento Mori 1 (February 2014)

RcIs Memento Mori the best of Boom!’s terrible Robocop remake tie-ins? Maybe. It’s definitely the first one where the art engaged. João Vieira has the appearance of an interesting style. Cartoonish, almost. He really doesn’t–he just fakes it on the good panels and the rest are really pedestrian. But until one figures out the art, it does keep the mind occupied.

Speaking of minds and occupation, Mori is the story of Alex Murphy, human cop, as the doctors wipe his memory to install Robocop. Frank J. Barbiere apes countless tv shows, comic books and movies as Murphy runs through his subconscious trying to survive. It’s hideously unoriginal and completely nonsensical. Barbiere fakes having a point to the story.

But the comic does read quickly and one forgives the art problems and the unoriginality as things move along. Barbiere manages to promise something engaging… and fails to deliver.

D 

CREDITS

Writer, Frank J. Barbiere; artist, João Vieira; colorist, Ruth Redmond; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer, Ian Brill and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Robocop: To Live and Die in Detroit 1 (February 2014)

RobocopAgain, not having seen the new Robocop movie, it’s hard to say who’s responsible for the nonsense of To Live and Die in Detroit. It could be writer Joe Harris. He certainly does write some terrible exposition about the Motor City and juxtaposes it against the lame action and activities of Robocop. Robocop, it turns out, is an asshat by the way. But did the editors make him an asshat or did the liaison at the license holder?

The art isn’t too bad. Piotr Kowalski does all right, actually. The sleek image of Robocop is boring, but the rest of the action’s decent. Shame about all Harris’s exposition. It’s nauseatingly obvious and incredibly lame. Unless some Detroit politician wants to give out the comic at a campaign rally.

But not with the resolution. The resolution is pure crap. Whoever came up with it should be ashamed of him or herself.

F 

CREDITS

Writer, Joe Harris; artist, Piotr Kowalski; colorist, Vladimir Popov; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer, Ian Brill and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Robocop: Hominem Ex Machina 1 (February 2014)

RoboCop Hominem Ex Machina rev Page 1Okay, it’s a movie tie-in but it’s a prequel and a sequel. Who knows? The new Robocop isn’t out yet so is it even possible to gauge whether Michael Moreci and Jason Copland got the tone right… because they don’t create one of their own.

Moreci follows around Robocop’s human handler–or so the character seems, as I haven’t seen the movie–while Robocop is malfunctioning. There are riots, there are hostages, will Robocop come through in the end? Will Moreci actually write vicious criminals or ones out of toy commercials?

Vicious criminals wouldn’t fit Copland’s style. With the colors over Copland’s pencils–no inking here–Hominem Ex Machina looks like watercolor. It’s not an action style. Copland quite often flings Robocop through the air and it just looks absurd. So does all the tasering; it’s practically a PSA in favor of taser “safety.”

It’s somewhat inoffensive licensed dreck.

D 

CREDITS

Writer, Michael Moreci; artist, Jason Copland; colorist, Juan Manuel Tumburús; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer, Ian Brill and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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