Robocop (1987) – Dir. Paul Verhoeven.
I was in the mood for an easy watch this evening and figured I’d revisit this cyberpunk classic, starring Peter Weller in the title role and Nancy Allen as his partner, Anne Lewis.
It pains me to say it, but in conversations about this film over the last couple of years, people seem to instantly think of the 2014 remake. I struggle to comprehend that they haven’t experienced the original, which is widely regarded (and rightly so!) as a far better film (even with the exception of a few dated special effects.) The only thing the remake has over the original, is the further inclusion of mother and son characters and the affect the whole situation has on them. It’s a shame that avenue wasn’t explored here – though really, the film doesn’t suffer for it at all. And at least the pacing is thick and fast.
By now, whether you’ve seen this version or the remake, most people will be aware of the plot – so I won’t go into too much detail regarding that. I will say however, that the initial murder of Alex Murphy is much more brutal in this original version and the remake doesn’t feature the most memorable moment of the villain driving into a vat of toxic waste. Terrifying as a child when I walked in on my parents watching this one night!
Audio and visual wise, the 2014 blu-ray release is the one that sits on my shelf and I’m impressed with the transfer. It isn’t perfect, and some scenes feature a bit of harsh grain, but for the most part – the clean up job is fantastic and provides some crisp visuals. Same goes for sound. Basil Poledouris’ synth heavy soundtrack sounds amazing and the gunshots and explosions pack a punch.
- Q&A with the filmmakers (42 mins) – A panel discussion featuring key players in the films production; including Paul Verhoeven, Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, writers Ed Neumeier & Michael Miner and stop-motion animator Phil Tippett. A lot of thanking each other comes across as a little self-indulgent at times but some fun anecdotes come out during this discussion. Sadly, it comes out that some of the other actors from the production are in the audience and it makes you question as to why they weren’t invited up for the panel. It becomes more interesting after about 20 minutes when they start taking questions from audience members as opposed to the panellist alone. Worth a watch.
- Flesh and Steel – The Making of Robocop (37 mins) – Probably the most interesting feature on the disc. It is your run of the mill making of, featuring interviews with the cast and crew, chronicling the initial concept right through to production. A pretty comprehensive and entertaining feature – I enjoyed it a lot.
- 1987 featurette – Shooting Robocop (8 mins) – A retro featurette which features interviews with cast and crew on set. Given the age, there are moments where the audio is quite distorted. Nothing spectacular here, just feels a bit like filler material.
- 1987 featurette – Making Robocop (8 mins) – Another retro featurette here. Even less interesting than the above, but some extra behind the scenes footage.
- The Boardroom – Storyboard with Commentary by Animator Phil Tippett (6 mins) – Storyboard and screen comparison. The introduction of Ed-209 runs in slow motion alongside a small storyboard window. Accompanied by a relatively interesting commentary by Phil Tippet.
- Deleted Scenes (3 mins) – Really disappointed with this feature. None of them add anything, which is why I guess they were removed in the first place.
- Villains of Old Detroit (17 mins) – The baddies of the movie discuss memories of making the film. Everything from mischief on set, their individual casting experiences and the affect it had on their careers. Pretty decent little featurette.
- Special Effects – Then and Now (18 mins) – One of the more interesting special features on this release. A behind-the-scenes look of matte paintings used in the film to help with the futurist look of Detroit and the stop-motion techniques employed for filming. It is mainly all about the techniques used ‘then’, followed by a 2 minute segment on how it is now mostly done by CGI.
- Robocop – Creating A Legend (21 mins) – Not yet viewed.
- Paul Verhoeven – Easter Egg (1 min) – Again, a pretty pointless bit of trivia about a small (possibly the smallest ever) cameo by the director himself.
- Audio Commentary with Director Paul Verhoeven, Writer Ed Neumeier and Executive Producer Jon Davison
- Theatrical Trailer (2 mins) – I’d never actually seen this trailer and found it hilarious how it uses the Terminator theme. Ridiculous!
- TV Spot (30 secs)
Overall, not the greatest collection of special features. Out of them all, the two worth watching are the special effects feature and the making of. Despite this lack of bonus content, the film itself is more than worth the price you can pick it up for now – a true sci-fi classic that deserves a space on any collectors shelf.