Hey Readers! Yet again, another memorable classic of scifi culture is celebrating a big year. This time, we take the stroll down memory lane and hit year 1987…A future police action movie with one traditonal, says-it-all slogan: Half man, half machine, ALL COP. Superior strength, the mind of a computer, and a dedicated command for Law and Order. It’s been now a whole quarter century since New Detroit’s part flesh, bone, and steel guardian first patrolled his way into theaters nationwide and into the minds and imaginations of scifi action fans everywhere.
A beloved cyber dispenser of justice against crime in the big city…Comic Book Therapy salutes 25 years for RoboCop! On July 17, 1987…
Justice went cyborg as new filmmaking sensation Dutch director Paul Veerhoeven brought us a cyberpunk world where a city and its basic civic functions and ameninties were privatized and incorporated. The corporation, Omni Consumer Products, OCP, takes a special investment in law enforcement and public safety. As crime becomes somewhat over-prevalent in the reputed advanced city of New Detroit, OCP takes on several suggestions for tougher machine-based defenders of the peace. After a failed incident with prototype enforcer ED-209, OCP takes a chance on a new development in the battle against crime, RoboCop. The only thing is that needs a suitable guinea pig of sorts… That, in the tragic, untimely, but convenient, kill-death of dedicated officer Alex Murphy.
Reborn into his new life as a cyborg supercop, he deals out his patrols in a no holds barred, take-the-bad-guy-out-quick fashion that makes him a formidable threat to the criminal world in New and Old Detroit. But, all is not well in the matter that RoboCop still has lingering memories of his past and the wrongful death/disruption of his former life that was dealt to him as Murphy. But even elsewhere in the city and within OCP itself, lie corrupt and diabolical criminal forces that have big plans to take over the city, OCP, and end RoboCop for good. Can RoboCop prevail? Of course! He’s…uh…ROBOCOP?
My first view of New Detroit’s Man of Steel…
Actually, I missed the boat on this one getting to see it in theaters back in 1987. Though I heard much press on the TV, and on the then famous entertainment hour TV mag show ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT. I eventually caught the film as most usually do after it skips out the box office the following year, renting it on…what else? VHS!! I was treated to what I was looking to expect as a traditional cop taken out in the line of duty and brought back ala the Six Million Dollar Man style adventure. What I ended up getting was a true taste of Paul Verrhoeven’s unique vicseral style… In seeing Peter Weller as Officer Murphy take the immense brutal beating from Kurtwood Smith’s Villain Clarence Bodicker and his clowny thugs, I was first left in all kinds of traumatic shock as one would get with watching a graphically violent movie.
Moving on to the rescue and attempt to revive Murphy and seeing him pass on was pretty sad. The rebuilding sequences were interesting, moving through into the whole idea of seeing the world through his new vision and RoboCop’s memories of his former life as Office Murphy made me feel sorry for him. Those moments also reminded me of those sad dramas and comedy-dramas of where the hero or heroine dies, goes to Heaven, somehow gets reborn again, but has to begin a life anew or struggle regaining what was left behind in their formerly set life, never quite being the same person they once were. What took the edge off that though, were satirical bits on media, entertainment, and futuristic commercial advertising that were hilarious and shocking at the same time in some instances. But I would say, for the rest of the film, it was a scifi action and adventure with a fresh albeit overly violent concept in cyborg law enforcement as never done before. A cybercop who does the job by the book(and sometimes NOT), takes no crap from his perps, and a dedicated sense of justice, no matter what turns around on him.
DocBBanner’s take on RoboCop’s influence:
RoboCop’s influence sets itself as not only an innovator on how not-too-far-off futuristic law enforcement technology is done in action film, but also as a strong force in showing the satirical sides of media and society, tale-telling the everyday situations of the world, politically, socially, civically, economically, and the rest. This also helped in RoboCop keeping its memorable humor, both amusing and some with a black comedy touch at times. Lots of memorable tough guy catch phrases, and silly one liners were made in this film such as “Your move, creep”, and ” I’ll buy that for a dollar” to typical police-friendly warnings and courtesy phrases amusingly delivered such as “Thank You for your cooperation” and “Stay out of trouble”, added real hilarity to what is still considered one of the bloodiest sci fi cop action films ever. The influence of this film in its first year alone, gave new fuel itself in several TV comedies and specials that parodied the cyber-lawman such as Jay Leno’s parody RoboPop skit on NBC TV many years back, not to mention references interweaving throughout modern and present day cop shows on Television the same. To this day, RoboCop continues to interweave the social structure of geek and mainstream popular culture. From publications of RoboCop in comics, to video games to parody, particularly in instances where stories of tough crime-fighting take or have taken place in our society that ended in big victories for law enforcement, his name remained a catch-phrase. Way to go Robo!!
Commentary with Mike Moran: “Ahhh Robocop. I remember seeing the trailer on TV. My Dad agreed to take my brother and I to go see it. We loved action Sci-Fi and growing up in 80′s it was standard fare. That Saturday was the day we went to see it. I want to say it was a late afternoon showing. We got our tickets and popcorn. I was 10 years old at the time. I remember it starts a bit slow(when you are 10) and then Murphy gets shot up. That part was really graphic to me and it made me feel woozy. I closed my eyes for a bit at that point. Then he becomes Robocop. This movie was another one that if you are not of a certain age the genius of it won’t be appreciated. At the level I was at it was just a gory Sci-Fi Action movie. Much later in my teens I would come to appreciate the satire and commentary on society that the film really is. As far as contribution to pop culture from this movie there are many. It was one of the first to be both action and satire with a whole inside joke on society. The movie is really dark when you get past the surface and predicts the level of corporate and selfish greed that society has taken recently. The 6000 SUX itself speaks volumes on the lack of conservation that Detroit wanted to make in fuel economy and had not the economy itself fallen so low they still would have. At the time it was a modern day Frankenstein but at its core it is about who is the monster? The poor man reborn without a choice as a machine or the society that made it happen….”
RoboCop: Dead or alive, you are coming with me. (AGAIN, BADASS!!)
Commentary with Henry Barajas: “Robocop is one of those movies where you had to be there. When I say you had to be there I mean, at that point in your life you love cinema so much that you can appreciate something great. I remember seeing a how a man was brutally murdered and was given a second chance. It’s a tragedy that hits all the human sensors. Nothing is cooler than a half man/half machine bad ass killing everything in sight and don’t ask any questions because you broke the law. It opened my eyes as a kid and made me question the righteous super hero. Why doesn’t Superman just crush Luthor? Why doesn’t Batman just drop Joker from the top of Wayne tower? Robocop goes in and puts bullets in all the bad guys and in the name of the law. And it’s perfectly legal! I showed it to my girlfriend for the first time and she kept just asking questions like, “Why doesn’t he arrest anyone?” And shit like, “What was that bag that fell out of that dudes neck?” She isn’t in that stage in her life to enjoy the beauty of Robocop. So if you haven’t seen it, go and buy it but wait until Christmas. Watch it and enjoy this Rated R movie with your family, like how it’s meant to be seen.”
Commentary with Christian Vilaire:
“1987 I don’t remember much from when I was a kid except maybe some traumatic events like the time my grandma used my He-Man sword to deliver her brand of justice to my a$$ or when my sister and I reenacted the Karate Kid showdown and she crane kicked me in the face….but there is also the good trauma. I remember that day going to the movies with my dad. He carried me down the aisle to our seats and I wasn’t even sure what we were watching. (I had very cool parents in the fact they did not prohibit what I watched.) The lights went down and the movie started… that movie was RoboCop . BUHBUMPBUH DUM BUH BUMP BUH DUH! That theme still rings into my head to this very day every time I eat baby food. I mean my little dumb eyes were breathless because they don’t have lungs but the movie was just a bunch of extreme action being tossed at me and I was forever changed. I left the movie excited and couldn’t stop talking to my dad about this amazing film…I asked him, “Do you think there will ever be a real RoboCop in the future?” He said, “I hope so” and I said, “Radical!” because I was also into Ninja Turtles at the same time. As the weeks followed my fascination got worse and worse. My mom and dad got me all the action figures and vehicles from RoboCop that Kenner toys had produced. These toys were so cool; they had a cap firing feature. I would use this feature a lot, to get that smell of the cap fire and get 5 year old high. My RoboCop universe was chaotic and more violent then the film. I mean I had some really horrible bad guys for Robo to fight like Shredder, Cobra Commander and Darth Vader; in the end of my stories Robo always got the girl, primarily the Scarlett and biker chick from my GI Joe action figures. ROBOTHREEWAY! As I grew up I learned more about film and all the meanings that RoboCop was trying to illustrate, all those things flew over my head as a child, since I was just innocently enjoying a movie. All that political nonsense you learn as you get older and you realize in some way that maybe RoboCop was warning us about the future. I work for a corporation that acts a lot like OCP and see people jumping out of buildings, back stabbing, and the sadness when people are laid off. Alex Murphy/Robocop was the perfect model of a family man and his sacrifice for doing his job is to become reborn as a machine owned by a corporation…I mean technically was he ever free? He worked for a police department that was owned by OCP who controls everything in Delta City. Are we free as a society when we let a corporation control our lives? These are the many valuable questions that RoboCop still makes you think about to this day… thinking man’s sci-fi, we don’t get much of that lately. RoboCop expanded my mind and made me the visual story teller I am today; it may not be for everyone, but it’ll definitely influence someone.”
RoboCop original movie poster image
As we move into Robo’s 25th year and on…there will be nostalgia…LOTs of it. Even more so as we exit this year. RoboCop is to receive a remake in 2013, cast with stars the likes Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman, and Samuel L. Jackson. This is sure to be exciting as release time nears…
Robocop Remake Omnicorp Product Line Viral Trailer
That is all for this feature, catch our next lookback at another 1987 cult classic, the fantasy fairy tale romance comedy delight, THE PRINCESS BRIDE.