Sign in using your account with
RoboCop : Eighties Action Classic Gets Bland Hollywood Reboot
Praised for its unbending and dogmatic depiction of corruption, greed and capitalism – told with a keen eye for blood and violence – Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop (1987) was always going to be a tough act to follow; a statement which, unfortunately, proves to be true for Jose Padiha's reboot.
The year is 2028 and man-made cyborgs, created by OmniCorp – a multi-billion dollar corporation specialising in robot technology – are used to police the world. Unfortunately, though, they are banned in the United States, as the government is reluctant to pass a legislation which allows for inhuman robots to be used to keep the peace and maintain the necessary social order in the country.
The decree, luckily, has a loop hole and if the company, run by the CEO, Raymond Sellars (Keaton), is to put their products on the streets, they are required to inject a human presence from within to maintain the balance. OmniCorp's Chief scientist, Dr. Norton (Oldman), is in charge of the program and he soon comes across exactly what they need to swing their new project into action in the form of Alex Murphy (Kinneman); a hard-hitting, Detroit cop who was recently wounded by a car bomb.
Using what's left of his body, Murphy is soon transformed into RoboCop; a half-human, half-robot killing machine, armed and equipped with the latest gadgets used to hunt and apprahend criminals. After months of testing, Murphy returns to duty and is reintroduced to wife, Clara (Cornish), and son, David (Ruttan), who are saddened to see that Murphy is now a changed man. However, Murphy's spirit and essence is not entirely gone and as he slowly begins to override the system that controls him, he goes on the hunt for the criminals responsible for maiming him, only to discover that he is part of a much bigger picture.
Cold and unemotional, Kinneman – best-known for his role in TV series, The Killing – gives a solid performance throughout and although his more 'human' side was lacking, he manages to manages to excel more as a robot, so to speak. Meanwhile, Oldman gives the film some much-needed gravitas but much like the rest of the supporting cast – which includes Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson and Abbie Cornish – is criminally underused and the characters underwritten.
Directed by the Brazilian director Jose Padiha – who makes his Hollywood debut with the film – RoboCop looks clean and polished, especially the larger-than-life cyborgs and Robocop's newly designed metallic suit. But at the same time, it feels utterly lifeless in terms of story and substance and this new RoboCop feels awfully diluted.
It's safe to say that RoboCop's die-hard fans will find plenty to complain about. Shame.
Despite its seemingly aggressive and gory premise, Nick Simon’s The Girl in the Photographs is one of the most uninspiring slasher movies you will have the misfortune of seeing. Attempting to cultivate a sense of paranoia and dread, the film is completely devoid of suspense, despite the late, great Wes Craven being attached as executive producer.
The story begins with college student, Janet (Isabelle), who, after returning home late one night from watching a bad movie at the cinema, is brutally attacked and killed in her home mask-wearing madmen, Tom (Baines) and Gerry (Schmitt) who, before disposing of her body, photograph their and put her pictures up around the sleepy town of Spearfish, South Dakota.
Connecting the discovery to some kind of roguish art, the police is totally unmoved by the evidence; however, local grocery store clerk, Colleen (Lee), seems to think that there is something more malicious at play. The murder soon attracts the attention of a predatory photographer, Peter Hemmings (Penn), who decides to travel from L.A to Spearfish along with his assistant Chris (Wormald) and a group of models in order to seek inspiration and create his own art. Finding Colleen, Peter soon becomes obsessed in re-creating the sadistic photo and event, but as more people go missing and the photo count increases, chaos and paranoia takes over the town.
The Girl in the Photographs is one violent and gruesome picture which doesn’t sugar coat its sadism and depictions torture. However, while the grisliness of it all seems perfectly suited to its Slasher-movie premise, the execution comes across as a little dull with the story investing very little time or interest in building any sort of mystery or suspense. The snail-like pacing is another damaging factor with director Nick Simon – working a the script written by a group of largely inexperienced screenwriters – wasting too much time allowing for a scene to unfold, igniting boredom rather than tension, while the performances fail to rise above the tedious script.
On the visual front, the film is slightly more effective thanks to the contributions of legendary cinematographer, Dean Cundey – see Jurassic Park, Apollo 13, Back to the Future. Gory, violent and exceptionally inane, The Girl in the Photographs is not completely without its terror-inducing moments, but there isn’t enough of its redeeming features to sustain it.
As an exploration of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the military, Dito Montiel’s Man Down is a muddled story that’s pretty challenging to sit through. Though on paper there’s plenty of potential depth in this particular effect of war – and a solid cast at its disposable – the film descends into military-movie clichés, while not really keeping up with its complex set-up.
The movie to take place over four separate time periods and opens with U.S Marine Gabriel Drummer (LeBeouf) and his military buddy, Devin Roberts (Courtney), making their way through a vast and seemingly wasted American landscape which appears to have been destroyed by a chemical attack. On the look-out for survivors, the pair is hoping to find Drummer’s son, Jonathan (Shotwell), whom he believes has been kidnapped.
Before the audience gets a chance to find out what is really going in, the story flashes back to another time period where a seemingly distraught Drummer is being interviewed by Counselor Peyton (Oldman) about an ‘incident’ that occurred on the battlefield in Afghanistan. Moving on to yet to another period, we also get to see the story of Drummer and Roberts during their Marine Corps training at Camp Lejeune before, eventually, cutting to the story of Drummer’s life at home with wife, Natalie (Mara) and their son.
Taking on several narrative threads without really knowing where to take them, let alone how to put them back together, is one of Man Down’s major issues. Used to give some kind of visual interpretation of PTSD, the movie’s choppy editing is ineffective and comes across as a messy, superficial tool.
Clocking in at precisely ninety minutes, Man Down is a relatively short film but, thanks to the overworked script and slow pace, it takes forever for any of the stories to build into something bigger.
Working its way through a series of military clichés, the story works best when it is focused on digging into Drummer’s fractured mind, with the conversation between him and his counsellor – played by the seemingly wasted talent of one Gary Oldman – serving to be one of the movie’s best elements. LeBeouf is convincing as a troubled soldier desperately trying not to sink deeper into madness and his commitment to the role is commendable, making it all that more frustrating to see that the script itself is so lacking.