Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Robocop (2014) Part 2

Click here for Part 1!

Obviously horrified by this disturbing scene, God intervenes and makes Murphy's car alarm start going off. He can't turn it off via his remote start, so he goes outside to check it out. As he opens the door his car blows up and takes him out. So... it was a bomb? Why did it take so long to go off? Was it on a timer? If so, what would have happened if he didn't open the door? Or was Vallon controlling it, and just waiting for the best possible moment to screw with Murphy? If THAT'S the case, then why- RHARGHH, screw this. I don't think they could have found a dumber way to make him Robocop.

We cut to later where OmniCorp is meeting with Clara to get her to sign off on making Murphy into a machine. She's not very smart, so of course she does. This is SO bad in comparison to the original which I know is like saying water is wet, but it just makes no sense. In the original OCP faked Murphy's death to the world so they could do whatever they wanted to him, because they were completely immoral and only cared about their means. Here, they go about the whole thing legally which completely undercuts the entire evil corporation aspect that drove the whole damn 1987 version. Like so many other things already, I'll bring this up later.

Three months later Norton awakens Murphy in a metal harness and reveals he is now a cyborg. Wait, Murphy still has his mind? The hell?! Why wouldn't they robo-lobotimize him so he doesn't freak out... like he goes on to do. He swats down Norton and starts running, leaving the complex as it's revealed the operating lab is in the middle of a Chinese rice paddy... for some reason. It looked like Norton had a fully functional lab back in Detroit, why go ALL the way out to China for this?

That's an easy answer. As I've mentioned before more and more of today's movies are being made with China in mind, so setting part of this film there would only help it's chances of getting shown there. Mission accomplished! As he runs outside the complex we see it's being patrolled by EDs, who do not fire on him because their Heads Up Displays tell them not to fire on OmniCorp property. I know I've already overloaded the note-taking section of your brain, but keep this in mind for later on.

Norton, who's been trying to talk him down via radio the entire time, finally says “screw this!” and shuts him down. Murphy wakes up back in the harness, telling Norton to “show him”. Norton holds up a giant mirror to show him what he now looks like, but I guess decides this isn't a big enough shock so he has all of his cybernetics removed so he can see all the organics he has left which is basically his head, lungs, and one of his hands.

Are we watching a Hellraiser movie now? I'm thinking they wanted to have a more horrific visual than the Toxic Waste Mutant from the first movie, and boy did they accomplish that! Murphy rightfully tells Norton that he wants to die, but Norton talks him out of it by playing the “what about your family?” card. It's worth noting here Oldman does a better job of infusing emotion into Murphy and Clara's relationship just by TALKING about it than the actors themselves did SHOWING it.

After the pep talk from Norton, Murphy is ready to make this an action movie. We go to him getting weapons training from Mattox, who gives him the signature Auto-9 pistol. Ha ha, just kidding, it's a TSR-66 TASER pistol because when you think Robocop you think of him tasing bros dammit! Murphy also gets a modified M2 battle rifle which does shoot actual bullets, but guess which gun gets the starring role in the movie?

Mattox warns him his body armour is powerful but is weak against .50 caliber bullets. Don't worry about that, I'm sure it was a just a throwaway line that won't be brought up later on when Robocop inevitably turns against OmniCorp. It's pure coincidence they earlier mentioned the ED-209s fire .50 caliber shells, HONEST.

It's time for his first battle test against an EM-208, the goal to rescue hostages in record time. Mattox is established as HATING Murphy for no real good reason other than the fact that “organics in machines are a huge step backwards”. It... does not really work for a guy that's ostensibly one of the bigger villains of the movie. Scratch that, villain is way too strong of a word to use for this movie, let's go with “antagonist”.  Mattox condescendingly calls Murphy “Tin Man” and plays the song “If I Only Had A Brain” during the training exercise. The entire damn song. Murphy and a 208 shooting virtual people is set to “If I Only Had A Brain”.

The 208 easily wins, as Murphy is hesitant to shoot at the kidnappers because one is holding a kid hostage. Mattox says “I wouldn't buy that for a dollar!” at Murphy's performance as I throw my remote through the TV. THIS is the moment the movie elevated itself into Man Of Steel-bad and we're barely 45 minutes in.

It's like they wrote that just to piss off the old fans, I can think of no other reason for that line's existence. I can already tell this is going to be a multipart review, so let's just press on ahead. Norton flies ALL THE WAY back to Detroit just to tell Sellars about Murphy's performance. A bit earlier Murphy called his wife via video phone for a scene that did nothing so I didn't even bother with it, Norton couldn't have called Sellars to tell him this? A straight shot from Detroit to China is like 14 hours, he flew all that way for this nonvital information?

Sellars tells him to improve Murphy's performance, no matter what, so Norton flies all the way back to China to implant some kind of microchip in Murphy's brain that lets him feel human emotions. No wait, that's Data from Star Trek. This chip PREVENTS him from learning human emotions. Nope, that's the Terminator. This chip will let him process data faster or something.

We go back to Detroit again as Sellars and Yes Man discuss the latest test polls for Robocop. Sellars isn't happy with the numbers, he wants Robocop to look more tactical so tells Yes Man to make his armour black.  Back to China again, as we follow a parade of SUVs driving up to the OmniCorp testing facility as BATMAN gets out of one of them! Holy crap, this movie just got totally awe- oh. It's just the new Robocop suit.

I actually had almost no issues with the redesigned suit, the only exception being how small his visor was. I thought it was a very nice update, modernized without straying too far from the original, very pleasing all around. But this freaking thing, it's just Batman without his cape. They didn't even TRY. Hmm, I think I just found the tagline for this movie!

The final test is Murphy vs. Mattox and a room full of 208s, which he easily wins thanks to hypercut editing that makes it impossible to tell who is firing from where. Norton reveals when his visor is down, the microchip implanted in Murphy's brain takes over and runs the OmniCorp drone software. The... same software the 208s have so why are they losing so badly right now? Huh, really thought that one through didn't they?

Norton says the beauty of this is Murphy THINKS he's in control when his visor is down, even though he actually isn't. Yes Woman says this is illegal, but Sellars is all “yeah whatever, we're never going to mention this again in the movie so let it ride”. Norton's character pretty much just lost any sympathy here, as he's gone way deep into mad scientist territory now. 

One last thing, this battle is set to possibly the WORST recorded song in the history of the world. It's this horrible rock instrumental that wouldn't be out of place in a biker bar circa 1983 and then breaks into a guy yodeling. You know a movie is bad when I'm forced to even criticize the score.  Alex is sent home, where he finally gets reunited with his family in a scene that is totally emotionless AND pointless. This is where Kinnaman and Cornish REALLY earn that upcoming Worst Screen Combo nomination they have coming, they don't even TRY to project any kind of emotion into this. 

 We cut to our umpteenth cut of the movie as we go to the outside of the police HQ for Robocop's unveiling to the world. This is also probably the stupidest scene in an entire movie of stupid, as just minutes before Murphy's unveiling, Norton tells him they're going to upload the ENTIRE FUCKING POLICE DATABASE directly into his brain. Like 800 kajillion terabytes of data, all into his head at once. You'll NEVER guess what happens next. What's that? Oh, you say he gets completely overwhelmed by this much data and starts having seizures? Wow, you must have a brain, something no one in the creation of the film clearly had.

I'm not even going to bring up why they'd have to download it into his brain when this VERY second I'm STREAMING this movie on Flixster via the almighty Cloud, but instead just ask the most obvious question in the world: why would they do this RIGHT before his press conference? When he starts spazzing out they're all “Fix it! Fix it!” and Norton is all “I have no fucking idea what to do, we've never done anything like this before!”.

God, this freaking movie. So Norton comes up with the idea of pumping drugs into Murphy that “lower his dopamine levels” that even him out and turn him into a brain dead emotionless husk. On his way to his podium he totally ignores his family, but it could be they have such a non-presence he didn't even notice them. As he takes the podium he starts scanning the crowd, his database able to instantly tell if they're wanted for crimes or not.

He finds a man standing almost dead center that has outstanding warrants for rape, murder, arson, and WHY THE FUCK WOULD HE COME TO A POLICE STATION?! Why isn't he in Mexico right now with a hilariously oversized hat on?!? At this point I almost have to respect this movie for the level of “We Don't Care”-ness that's going on here. Robocop jumps into the crowd and starts firing at the guy, tasing his ass into custody.

OmniCorp is watching the Novak Element, where Novak applauds Murphy and dubs him “Robocop” in the first actual usage of the name in the movie. Norton wants Murphy taken off the streets because he's worried about him being a drug-addled loose cannon now, but Sellars is like “aww hell no dawg!”. Kim says something at the press conference caused his poor reaction to the data download that was “beyond chemistry or physics”, which Yes Woman mockingly replies “Like what? His SOUL?”.  Alrighty then. That's how it's going to be, huh movie? Fine. Paul Verhoeven himself has called Robocop an American Jesus story, with his ultraviolent death to his resurrection to saving the people from evil. There's even a subtle “walking on water” scene towards the end that a lot of people missed.

It's done perfectly in the movie, you might not even think about it until your 37th repeat viewing of the movie when you're like “ohhhh yeah”. It doesn't hit you over the head with it, and it's so non-intrusive you don't even have to acknowledge it if you don't want to. But no, let's throw all of that out the window and just outright bring up stuff like souls here. The only thing missing from this scene as a freeze frame and a caption saying “THIS IS DEEP.”.

I truly believe the writer of this movie HATED the original Robocop and wrote this whole movie as a mocking parody of it, I can't think of any other reason at this point why lines like that exist. Skipping over more boring family stuff about Clara trying to see Murphy and being denied by Sellars, we see the chief of police has given Murphy free reign on all open cases in the precinct. He can take over anyone's case at anytime, which is yet ANOTHER thing I want you to remember. Are you able to keep track of all this stuff? Because I'm not! Let's recap:

-PG-13 killing the movie
-Norton telling Robohands that emotions will upset his robotics
-OmniCorp operating within the letter of the law
-ED-209's not firing on Murphy in China
-Murphy getting full control of all open cases in Detroit

Whew! That's a lot!  What a tightly scripted movie this is. Hey, remember in the first movie when they showed Robocop driving around Detroit stopping crimes and saving people? Well, even THIS movie realized that was probably a good idea so they try it here. Robocop is in pursuit of a drug lord, so he shakes down one of his cronies for his location. And once again, all tone goes out the freaking window for more comedy. We get to see Murphy's Heads Up Display while he interrogates the creep and it says he's “totally stoned”.

Yeah, ha hah. “Totally stoned” becomes official medical terminology in the future? The guy gives up his boss, so Robocop heads to his building for a remake of the drug lab shootout from the original. And to the surprise of no one, it's as nonviolent as possible as well as being COMPLETELY POINTLESS because none of these have criminals have anything to do with Vallon. He's still our bad guy, right? I forgot, I haven't seen him in hours.

Meanwhile, Sellars meets with Mattox, whom he secretly gives control of Murphy because he doesn't trust Norton. THANK GOD ANOTHER SUBPLOT! Lord knows this movie needed more of those. Next Sellars goes on The Novak Effect for a scene that accidentally points out one of the movie's absolute biggest flaws.  Novak starts his show off with this line:

“He brought peace to this country's most violent city...”

Did he? When? No, better question, WHERE? Did Robocop take a trip to Baltimore or Washington DC during one of the multiple times I fell asleep during this movie? Detroit in the 1987 movie looked like a total urban hell, with tons of destroyed building and flaming barrels as far as the eye could see.

Detroit looks like a PARADISE in this freaking movie. Hell, it's probably the nicest looking city I've seen in a movie in years. We NEVER see crime running rampant in the streets, which was one of the most crucial elements of the first movie. Boddicker ruled the streets with a bloody fist, Vallon sits at nice little cafes and has tea. It really undercuts the film's plot of “we NEED drones in America to give us a fighting chance against crime” when we don't see any of the damn crime! 

The Novak Element is another Dreyfus vs. Sellars debate, only this time Sellars has the upper hand. Dreyfus starts to make a point but Novak cuts him off ala Bill O'Reilly, as he looks straight at the camera and wonders if the United States Senate has become pro-crime. Like all of his scenes this would have been hilariously subversive if they weren't playing them so damn straight! A much less serious actor would have helped here.

Clara, sick and tired of OmniCorp brushing her off, just straight up confronts Murphy on the street. She implores him to come home because their family is falling apart, their son needs him, she needs him, blah blah blah, these Clara scenes are cinematic DEATH. Not that this film is surging with energy, but everytime she's on screen she sucks ALL of it out with her stonefaced “acting”. Murphy ignores her and drives away on his bike, but again it could be he didn't even see her because of her total lack of screen presence

Or maybe not. As he drives, he looks up footage of his family being hounded by the media. OmniCorp is able to see him doing this, as they are constantly monitoring his Heads Up Display. Kim says he's overriding his system priorities to watch his family instead of crime. Say what? He has priorities? What are they? Ohhhhh that's right, THEY NEVER TELL US.  Murphy goes home, reviewing camera footage of his crime scene because again, Detroit has cameras ever 2.3 feet. How a crime EVER happens in this city is beyond my knowledge. Norton's displays shows he's overriding the drugs in his system and getting his dopamine levels back to normal... somehow.

Murphy shakes down the arms dealer Jerry from the very beginning for Vallon's whereabouts. Vallon gets a call from his anonymous tipster that Robocop is on the way, as he readies his base for an assault. Vallon turns off all the lights in the building, and here's the part where I wanted you to remember the PG-13 nonsense. THE ENTIRE SHOOTOUT is filmed in either pure dark illuminated by muzzles flashes or night vision, so it can be as bloodless as possible. This is so idiotic and poorly conceived I wasn't even aware Vallon died until a helpful on screen pop up told me.

Not quite the death of Boddicker, is it? This movie was doomed from the start, but making it PG-13 destroyed any chance it had at being remotely captivating. I'm not saying a movie needs endless blood and guts to be good, but when you're dealing with ROBOCOP it might not be a bad idea yeah? ESPECIALLY when we're dealing with the Big Bad dying via video game shit.  That gun battle wouldn't have even got an “M” rating. Also, did you find that satisfying at all? Did it bring ANY kind of closure to this mess of a story at all? I think even the movie realized this, as Robocop scans one of the thug's guns and findings the fingerprints of the Idiots on it. Because police officers would totally leave their prints on stolen guns.

Click here for Part 3!