Monday Movie Retrospective

July 17, 2017

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Dead or Alive, you must see 1987’s “Robocop“. “Who is he? What is he? Where does he come from?”

Made by the controversial Paul Verhoeven, bringing horror-movie-style gore to the action genre, this movie brought more realistic, if slightly over-the-top gore effects to gunshot wounds in 1980’s action films. Some wound scenes even needed to be cut back, in order not to suffer a more restrictive movie rating.

It stars the adorable ED-209 robot, brought to life with Ray-Harryhousen-style miniature effects composited into the main film. It gets into a little light trouble early in the film with its enthusiasm, but you can’t keep a good robot down, so it is brought back later to attack the menacing title hero, Robocop. The whole movie is a loving tribute to cute robots everywhere. Even Robocop, played by the intense Peter Weller, has his moments.

“Robocop” has a great cast of good actors to support the robots. Nancy Allen plays officer Lewis, who is Robocop’s police partner before he becomes Robocop. Ronny Cox plays the secondary bad guy as a corporate vice president. He does a great job, playing a sneaky villain with a glossy coat of corporate politeness. Every good movie needs a great bad guy. This movie has two! The primary villain of this piece is Boddicker, played by the playful Kurtwood Smith. You can’t help but love the guy. He’s so playful and gleeful.

To finish up the primary cast of characters, we have some additional great performances that make the robots shine. There is the ambitious head of the Robocop corporate program itself, Bob Morton, played by the terrific Miguel Ferrer. There is a fun-loving, club-hopping second-in-command bad guy named Leon Nash, played by the delightful Ray Wise. On the corporate side, there is the fun toady named Johnson, played by the Chicago actor Felton Perry, who does a great job disappearing into his role.

The movie really starts going when ED-209 is introduced at a board meeting. However, the robot is slightly overambitious during a live-fire exercise (live fire in the boardroom guys? Really?), leading to a “contingency program”, which is actually the Robocop program, allowing a grievously wounded police officer to be resurrected as the title character. So Robocop does his robo-policing for a while, which eventually leads him to go arrest the Evil Vice President. Fortunately for our hero, the Evil Vice President has ED-209 stashed in his office closet for unexpected guests, so ED-209 and Robocop have a light-hearted disagreement, with ED-209 throwing Robocop bodily out of the office.

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Unfortunately, Robocop breaks the right arm of ED-209, causing ED-209 to shoot his own left arm. Sure, ED-209 shot Robocop a few times with arm cannons, but he made sure that the real heavy artillery, the explosive rockets, were fired well-wide of Robocop, missing him completely with care and consideration. Finally, to add literal insult to literal injury, Robocop led ED-209 down some stairs, causing ED-209 to slip and fall on his back. Robocop simply walked away, leaving ED-209 to throw an understandable tantrum.

Robocop gets away, even after being ambushed by what appears to be the entire Detroit SWAT team. His former partner whisks him away to an abandoned-factory hideaway. The Evil Vice President gets into an agreement with the main Bad Guy, Boddicker, to go destroy Robocop. Robocop does his thing, except that it is not his thing. He stops arresting the bad guy. What? Since when does a police officer get to decide when he will not arrest the bad guy? ED-209 would never fall to such a new low. Well, Robocop defeats the bad guy in the end, and immediately afterward, returns to the corporate offices to make more messes, just like last time.

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ED-209 is guarding the building, with his shiny-new arms, performing his guard duty perfectly. He warns Robocop to stop parking illegally. Before even uttering a single word, Robocop pulls a massive rifle and blows the top of ED-209 apart. The secondary explosions completely obliterate that poor machine, so that all that is left are the legs and where they connect at the hip. Horrifying! Well, that’s the end of ED-209, and the movie only lasts for a few more minutes, so it’s really over at this point.

Luckily for the audience, ED-209 would make a cameo appearance in Robocop 2, and would return to his old playful self in Robocop 3, befriending a nice, intelligent little girl.

Two arm-cannons way up.

 

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