Kung Fu Hustle


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Robocop out?

Lee and I went to see the new Robocop film.  I liked the first film.  I think Paul Verhoeven did a great job, especially skewering the corporate side of things.  I thought Peter Weller's performance was great.  Add to that it was one of the few films that dealt with robotics that remembered to deal with Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics.

If you read science fiction, as I have, then you are familiar with Asimov's Laws.  If not, please be aware there have been a set of programming laws since the 1940's that would prevent movies like The Terminator, The Matrix, or any other computer/robot goes evil and tries to take over the world.  The Laws are simply:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

These rules cover about 99.9% of all robotic interaction.  Isaac Asimov wrote a series of stories dealing with how robots might interprete  those laws and seem to fall outside of normal robotic interaction.  The film I, Robot covers this subject, but it does get lost in the action just a bit.  But it was used very well in the original Robocop (though modified just a bit).

So if the above are reasons you liked the original Robocop, then the new Robocop might leave you feeling a bit empty inside.  There are some good things about it. Alex Murphy is still a good man trying to be a good cop and a family man, even after most of his body is destroyed.  The film leaves no doubt as to the amount of damage done to Murphy, showing the loss of almost everything below the neck except the heart and lungs.  Gary Oldman is great as the man who rebuilds Murphy, but then when isn't Gary Oldman great?  And the film has Samuel L. Jackson.  But Jackson's role, while a brilliant send up of Bill O'Reilly, looks like it was tacked onto the film after everything else was shot.  The only interaction Jackson has with anyone in the film is a short interview with the CEO of OCP, played by Michael Keaton.  That interaction does nothing to move the story, only to provide a soupcon of satire found in the original film.

There is action in the film, lots of action.  Jackie Earle Haley is great as a secondary villain who runs OCP's mercenary arm.  The action while plentiful, does look more than a bit robotic, in fact, it looks like it would be in a video game.

Overall, if you are desperate for the taste of movie popcorn, then go see Robocop.  If you are looking for a fairly smart, fun film, rent the original.

If you would click on the Amazon links provided to buy something.  Anything you buy helps to keep me writing.

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