RoboCop Steelbook 4K Ultra-HD Limited Release
directed by Paul Verhoeven
starring Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O’Herlihy
While modern computerized special effects can make darn near anything appear on screen, I still find merit in in the older mechanical effects days. The special features on this RoboCop Steelbook 4K Ultra-HD Limited Release delve deep into how those mechanical effects work, and that alone makes this well-documented reissue worth seeing. It took innovative thinking to make this look as good as it does as giant robots destroy Detroit, even if most of it was already in ruins by 1987. Paul Verhoeven wrote and directed RoboCop, a futuristic dystopian sci-fi thriller. The action takes place in a blasted and barren Detroit, a town run by gangs and corporations. This sci-fi set in the very near future uses actual footage shot in Detroit factories, a nearly abandoned ghost town, and tells a cautionary tale about runaway technology and the loss of humanity in the face of starvation.
The story begins with the introduction of ED-209, a fully automated police robot aimed at cleaning up the war zone. Instead, a software glitch lets loose a barrage of gunfire and wipes out the board of directors of the evil corporation trying to renew this city. We are left with a limbless police officer. He’s built back into usefulness through the miracle of cybernetics. It’s mechanically the same monster, just with human wetware instead of software. Well, if one bad idea fails, we can always try another. Did he volunteer? Of course not. He got lost on a mission, the baddies surround him. He’s captured, tortured, and mostly left for dead by the bad guys. Now science jumps in and replaces all the missing pieces with shiny robotics. RoboCop now seeks his vengeance. You want blood and body parts? This is the film for you.
The Arrow reissue is as wonderful as you might expect. Along with a remastered film, there are commentary tracks from film historians and special effects gurus, a rather thoughtful look at how the Ed-260 kill-bot and RoboCop were created on film, and a long and rather technical look at the social impact of the film. I find the story remains compelling, even if the blood, guts, and robot oil form a creepy backdrop to the story of losing everything and trying to fill that emotional hole and keep on living. Personally, I find the violence disturbing, but that is clearly what the film makers were aiming for. And like RoboCop himself, the bullseye is hit repeatedly.