OK so the makers of this remake were always going to have a battle on their hands when trying to make a fresh version of an action classic, to make things easier I have compared the films in sections;
The Action -
As you would expect, the new version feels slick, sexy and smooth, but the big let down is the use of CGI, to be fair it is not over used in the 2014 version but it’s noticeable in scenes, it makes it feel and look like a cartoon in parts, in the 1987 version it felt real, the movement of the Robot and the car and action sequences are better.
Also to add, Robocop teased you with his arrival on screen and his ”BIG ASS GUN” there is no foreplay in this version, no spikes in the hand or a reveal of the face, I know you could argue that this director was attempting something new but he has excluded scenes that brought excitement and a certain amount of grit to the original.
1987 wins the action battle hands down.
The Comedy -
The comedy is non-existent in the remake, there are a few one liners and nods to the original but largely the remake fails to bring the humour in the action scenes or in the general dialogue which is what the first one is known for, who could ever forget the following lines -
Bixby Snyder: I’d buy that for a dollar!
Dead or alive, you’re coming with me!
Clarence: Can you fly, Bobby?
Reporter: Robo, excuse me, Robo, any special message for all the kids watching at home?
RoboCop: Stay out of trouble.
Sgt. Reed: Your client’s a scumbag, you’re a scumbag, and scumbags see the judge on Monday morning. Now get out of my office, and take laughing boy with you!
When you revisit the original you realize how well written it was, each person has a level of depth and dark ass humour coming out of their mouths that the balance the film strikes is remarkable when you compare it to most films of the same genre, never mind a remake.
Not contest, 1987 wins the Comedy contest.
Story line -
The new Robocop has a decent story behind him, it makes him and the possibility of him feel real as the film takes itself a little more seriously than the original, Robocop seems a little more serious in general, before and after the transition, this was interesting for twenty minutes or so but to be honest I don’t watch films like Robocop for the serious drama, in the original they keep flashing to wacky news updates or cheesy adverts of board games which in themselves were entertaining & funny, in this version they keep cutting to Samual L Jackson who plays a black version of Bill O’Reilly (Yep the Fox guy) he keeps spouting corporate messages disguised as news to the masses, this just doesn’t work, it just feels lame and tedious.
1987 wins on the story!.
The new movie is not terrible, it’s just terrible if you compare, my biggest complaint would be the characters, in the first film, you had one great bad guy in Kurtwood Smith, he would not let you look away from the screen, he was intimidating and captivating at the same time, he also had a group of villains that in turn created Robocop’s hit list, all of these henchmen had a level of character that stands out to this day, I love Michael Keaton but he had no clever dialogue or interesting dialogue for that matter, the new version had nothing of the sort apart from a few faceless souls with nothing to say.
6/10 for 2014
9/10 for 1987
Facts on the 1987 version -
In Sacramento, California a robbery suspect fled into a darkened movie theatre to escape pursuing police. He became so engrossed in the movie playing on screen, Robocop, that he failed to notice that police had evacuated all other patrons from the theatre. When the lights flipped on, the stunned man was taken into custody.
It was discovered that when in full RoboCop costume, Peter Weller could not fit properly into the police car as he was too bulky. That’s why most shots of him show him exiting the car or preparing to get into it. For shots where he actually needed to be in the car, he only wore the top part of the costume and sat in his underwear. However, to maintain the illusion that RoboCop wears the entire suit while inside a car, most shots show his robotic feet exiting the car first.
Concerned that various police forces would object to the scene of the title character throwing Clarence Boddicker through glass while reading his rights, the producers had a preliminary screening for an audience of police officers. It turns out that they were delighted at the sight of the hero getting tough with a wanton murderer in a way that they couldn’t.
The RoboCop suit was designed by Rob Bottin and his team. The production team wasn’t satisfied with the initial design, and kept changing it and putting additions to it for months. Ultimately, nothing seemed to work and they went back to what was pretty much Bottin’s original design. This caused considerable delays, and by the time the suit was completed, it was three weeks late and arrived at the studio on the day that the first RoboCop scene was scheduled to be shot. It took 11 hours for Bottin’s people to fit Peter Weller into the suit, and when it was done Weller found that all his mime exercises were now useless because he needed time to get used to the suit and to perform as a robot in it. Production was halted so that Weller and his mime coach, Moni Yakim, could learn how to move in the suit.
In the attempted rape scene, writer Edward Neumeier originally had RoboCop shoot past the victim’s cheek, hitting and killing the rapist. While getting ready to shoot the scene as scripted, Paul Verhoeven notice how Donna Keegan‘s (playing the rape victim) legs were spread apart, giving him the idea to have RoboCop shoot between her legs and shoot the rapist in the genitals. Neumeier loved the idea and that was how the scene was shot.
While filming Bob Morton’s death scene, Miguel Ferrer and Kurtwood Smith began cracking up because while directing the scene, Paul Verhoeven referred to all the actors in-character. This meant he addressed the actresses playing the prostitutes as “bitches.”
Realizing that the film was running behind schedule and over budget, director Paul Verhoeven and producer Jon Davison purposely didn’t film one crucial scene: Officer Murphy’s death. When production wrapped, they went back to Los Angeles and ‘grimly’ informed the execs that Murphy’s death hadn’t been filmed. So the execs gave them more money and they filmed the scene in a warehouse in Los Angeles.
The RoboCop suit was the most expensive item on set. While the price range varies, the producers indicated that they spent anywhere between US$500,000 to US$1 million for the suit.
The RoboCop suit was so hot and heavy that Peter Weller was losing 3 lbs a day from water loss. Eventually, an air conditioner was installed in the suit.
For the theatrical trailer, Orion used the music from their film The Terminator (1984) which is also a movie about a cyborg (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger). Schwarzenegger was briefly considered for the role of RoboCop, but those involved with the film were concerned he would be too bulky in the suit and end up looking like the Michelin Man.
The scene where Boddicker’s gang tortures and finally murders Murphy was heavily edited in order to avoid an X rating. In the theatrical version, it is clear that Boddicker has blown apart Murphy’s right hand with a shotgun blast, and Emil then blows off his left arm at the shoulder with another shotgun blast, but the explicit gore is limited in those instances. There is also reduced gore when Boddicker blows Murphy’s brains out with a handgun. The scene with all of the original dismemberment is included in the DVD.
The repeated line ‘I’d buy that for a dollar!’ comes from Cyril M. Kornbluth‘s short story ‘The Marching Morons’, which presents a similarly cynical view of an over-commercialized future that’s desensitized to violence and war. A radio game show in that short story uses the line ‘I’d buy that for a quarter.’ as its signature phrase.
Paul Verhoeven and Rob Bottin clashed repeatedly before and during production over the design and make-up of the RoboCop character. What they argued most about was the scene where Murphy takes off his helmet. Bottin wanted the scene to be filmed in a darkened area, fearing that harsh light would reveal too much of the make-up effects; Verhoeven wanted the scene to be filmed as brightly as possible, citing that director of photography Jost Vacano would be able to light it properly without revealing anything. Verhoeven got his way and Bottin refused to talk to him any further for the remainder of production. However, at the premiere, both men were so impressed with how the scene had turned out, that they instantly forgave each other. Bottin, who had even vowed to never again work with Verhoeven, happily accepted the offer to work on Verhoeven’s next project, Total Recall (1990).
The trauma team portrayed in the movie trying to save Murphy was a real hospital trauma team. Their dialogue was mostly ad-libbed.
Kurtwood Smith claims in the 20th Anniversary DVD release that the scene where he is taken into the precinct was the first scene he’d shot, and proposed the spitting of the blood and swearing to give the scene more punch. Paul Verhoeven, intrigued, decided to give it a shot. Smith mused that this may have simply been due to Verhoeven’s love of bloodletting.
Kurtwood Smith‘s wife, Joan Pirkle, has a small role as Dick Jones’ secretary, Barbara.
Kurtwood Smith originally auditioned for the role of Dick Jones, and when he first learned he had been cast, he thought that was the role he had gotten. Not until later did he find out he would be playing Clarence Boddicker. Later still, he discovered the reason: being Dutch, director Paul Verhoeven had grown up near the Holocaust, and thought that, when wearing glasses, Smith resembled Heinrich Himmler. Smith apparently agreed with the idea, stating that a bigger, more menacing villain would come across as someone who could merely be outsmarted, while his character’s glasses made him look smarter and therefore more of a threat.
Peter Weller said one of his favorite memories of his film career was filming the drug bust sequence in Robocop. While filming the sequence, Weller was listening to Peter Gabriel’s song “Red Rain” on his Walkman inside his Robocop helmet as he exchanged gunfire with various bad guys.
Facts on the 2014 version -
During production of the film, director José Padilha phoned friend and fellow Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles to confide in him his frustration in the lack of creative control he was allowed by the studio for the project. Padilha estimated that for every ten ideas he brought to the project, the studio refused nine, and went on to the describe the making of the film as “The worst experience of [his] life”. When word of this conversation became public, in an effort to appease the studio Padilha released counter statements expressing satisfaction with the film.