Last of the Monster Kids

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

RECENT WATCHES: Our RoboCop Remake (2014)

When the remake of “RoboCop” was announced, fans were, naturally, very skeptical. In fact, they were hostile. “RoboCop” is a movie that means a lot to a lot of people. It perfectly represents a bygone era of action, special effects, and concise screenwriting. In our PG-13 era of big budget superhero blockbusters, a new “RoboCop” movie represented something very different. So fans became proactive. A group of organizer brought together over fifty different filmmakers. They would put their own spin on every scene from the original “RoboCop,” fans allowed to change up Verhoeven's classic however they wanted. The result, “Our RoboCop Remake,” was released for free on the internet. The film's tagline - “If anyone is going to ruin “RoboCop,” it's should to be us” – perfectly captures the fan feature's absurdist, home-made approach.

Something that's fascinating about “Our RoboCop Remake” is the diversity of filmmaking styles on display. Just to remind viewers where the story is, scenes from the original “RoboCop” occasionally flash on screen. These scenes are then recreated by the fans. Sometimes, the shots are fairly faithful, until something crazy happens. Other times, a more low budget approach is taken. A foam RoboCop suit puts in frequent appearances. Often, the style shifts entirely. Both hand-drawn and CGI animation are utilized. (One exceptionally crude computer animated scene is from Jon Watts, who made the latest “Spider-Man.”) Some scenes mimic 8-bit video games. Others are recreated with action figures. Everything from puppetry to musical theater to interpretive dance makes up the many scenes in “Our RoboCop Remake.”

When you have so many different filmmakers collaborating on the same film, the outcome will inevitably be uneven. Luckily, “Our RoboCop Remake” is amusing more often than not. A number of scenes cleverly play with the format. One moment features the original dialogue but substitutes Kurtwood Smith and Peter Weller with babies. ED-209 machine gunning an OCP executive into bloody ribbons is recreated with muppet-y felt puppets, gore being replaced with fluff. Later, Murphy's murder scene plays out as a rather graceful dance scene. There are two musical numbers, the second of which rather brilliantly features action figures. Two of the funniest gags replaces cocaine with milk and cookies and has RoboCop writing a Christmas letter to his parents. Another scene has a lawyer stepping in, decrying the fan production, and encouraging the viewer to watch the officially sanctioned remake instead.

This stuff is pretty fun but the funniest moments in “Our RoboCop Remake” tend to focus on freewheeling absurdity. Such as when the cops shooting RoboCop argue about how human he is. Emil's robbery of a gas station is interrupted by his sincere appreciation for philosophy. Boddicker's assassination of Bob Morton dissolves into a cocaine-fueled hooker party. RoboCop discussing his remaining humanity with Lewis, brilliantly, dissolves into a discussion about the band Sublime. Two scenes made me laugh incredibly hard. One features ED-209's life flashing before his eyes, before Murphy explodes with him with the anti-tank gun. Another, which practically became a meme unto itself, escalates the original's near-rape scene into an orgy of gunfire and exploding penises.

Of course, not every segment is going to work that well. A few are awkward. Such as the opening, where the newscasters grossly chew on spaghetti, or a clown being inserted into Murphy's dying dream. The contribution from leans heavily on Spielberg references for no reason. Some scenes are overly occupied with potty humor. Dick Jones and Bob Morton's bathroom confrontation relies too heavily on piss and shit jokes. So does a scene devoted to RoboCop farting extensively. The SUX 600 commercial is transformed into a big dick joke. Several scenes are too clever for their own good. Such as a moment devoted to explaining “deconstruction,” which visually overloads the audience. Or Emil's toxic waste-assisted death, which simply warps the original footage.

Still, “Our RoboCop Remake” made me laugh enough to justify the time spent watching it. The collective filmmakers were obviously targeting the remake. The breakdance filled happier ending features an explicit potshot at the new version. Yet the fan film exist less as a rebuttal to 2014's “RoboCop” and more as a loving homage to 1987's “RoboCop.” The creativity on display by some of the filmmakers is very impressive. Who else but true fans would recreate a life-sized replica of ED-209? Or write a song and dance number about shooting baby food jars? Fans of that level should definitely give “Our RoboCop Remake” a look, if only for a few of the specially inspired moments of lunacy. [7/10]

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