Tuesday, July 9, 2013
My Favorite Era: Robocop (1987)
Peter Weller is Alex J. Murphy, a cop in futuristic Detroit (which somehow looks even worse than present day Detroit) who is brutally murdered by Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) and his gang only to be reborn as Robocop. Weller is pretty good, oddly enough his rather stuff demeanor makes him ideal for playing a guy who is turned into a robot. He had a hell of a rough time with the suit and the fact that he came back for the sequel is a miracle. And that, folks, is the only nice thing you will ever see me write about that godawful piece of cow poop.
On the side of evil, we have two great villains in Clarence and Dick Jones (Ronny Cox). Kurtwood Smith gives us one of the slimiest, nastiest villains in 80's action and Cox is solid as always, playing a corrupt executive for the company that has taken over the police department.
The rest of the supporting cast is solid with Nancy Allen turning a likable turn as Murphy's partner Lewis and Miguel Ferrer as a rival to Jones.
The f/x work from Phil Tippett and Rob Bottin is quite impressive even today with the ED-209 enforcement droid (which makes a gruesomely hilarious debut ion the film) being a standout. As for Bottin, he really delivers the goods with some nasty gore. The highlight is the death of Emil (Paul McCrane), one of Clarence's goons. It's a real impressive, gross death as Emil crashes a truck into a vat of toxic waste, emerging with his flesh horribly melting off. Needless to say, I saw this at a very young age and was duly impressed.
All this would be simple bells and whistles of not for the expert direction of Paul Verhoeven and the rest of the crew. The film is slickly directed and tightly edited with good action, a nice score from Basil Poledouris and a nice, gritty production design that doesn't overdo the futuristic stuff. The film also has a wicked, dark sense of humor that permeates the film and allows the audience to accept some of the gaudier acts of violence on display.
Robocop overcomes the essential silliness of its premise and ends up being a fantastic action film.