• “Was that it?” My immediate response after I've seen this RoboCop remake. One must ask the question, why remake a movie that did everything right? Why even dare to improve on a modern classic? See, the whole reason to redo something is to add or improve on something that was missing or badly done. So, how does this movie fare then? Let's take a closer look.

    Alex Murphy is a headstrong detective at Detroit P.D. While hot on the trail of arms dealer Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow), his partner Jack Lewis (Michael K. Williams) gets shot and hospitalized. Meanwhile, Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton); CEO of Omni Consumer Products, tries to get an anti-robot bill dropped in congress. If dropped, it would allow his drones and robotic peace keepers to survey and protect the streets and the citizens of America. Seeing how much controversy it sparked up by their use of this in the Middle-East, everyone is against this. Sellars, is looking for a way to make his robots more likable, more “human”.
    ED-209! Hasn't much to do in this movie
    At home, Alex tries to spend some time with his son and wife, Clara (Abbie Cornish) but he's distant and regrets his actions which got his partner Lewis almost killed. Also, he suspects that some men of his department are on the take and involved with the arms dealer. When they feel he gets too close, they deal with Murphy and he gets critically wounded by a car bomb. Now, after an extensive search for his cyborg project, Sellars finds in Murphy a suitable candidate. Brilliant scientist, Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) and his team, realize a half-man, half-machine called RoboCop with Murphy at the center of it all.
    OCP fixes all
    After RoboCop has been deployed on the streets of Detroit, he's a resounding success. crime on the streets is being dealt with. Being linked to the city's CCTV Network and Detroit PD Criminal File database, Murphy stumbles onto the case of his own murder and decides to investigate. He quickly finds out different parties don't want him to find the truth and try to thwart him every step of the way. He uncovers a Viper's nest and finds out the venom is going all the way to the top. Murphy will do everything though, to bring his killers to justice.
    A lot of explosions and shaky-cam and still it wasn't all that exciting
    So, does this remake has something new to tell us? I don't think so. Where Verhoeven's 1987 original was not only a terrific action movie it was also wonderfully layered. A satire on American consumerism, media, corporatism and it still holds up very well. So, what does this film has to say then? Well, not a lot really. Sure, it tries to comment on the drones situation going on today but it doesn't seem to be all that interested in doing so. The commercials and news items are now replaced with “The Novak Element”, an actuality show with Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackon) as its anchor and clearly taking its cue from the likes of The O' Reilly Factor and Fox News. These segments are a lot of fun but far and few between. It almost seems that the so called message they are trying to give us is more of an afterthought. So, if they aren't really focusing on satire or social commentary is it full of action scenes then? No.
    Even here Sam Jackson gets to yell and shout! It's hilarious!
    for an action movie, there is almost no action scenes in it. That is what The original is known for, its action and its comical, over the top violence. Here we get a cleaned up PG-13 RoboCop, actually tazing creeps instead of blowing them to bits. At times it even reminded me of that very kid-friendly RoboCop cartoon and even that was more violent! It is quite ridiculous actually. Okay, so they focus on character development then? Yes.
    No substitution for the '87 warehouse scene
    Joel Kinnaman is getting quite some time to flesh out the character of Alex Murphy. He's fine as the hard boiled policeman and brooding husband. His portrayal of RoboCop is something else though and this is where I think the writers missed the mark. The whole theme of the original RoboCop was resurrection and machine becoming “man”. Kinnaman's RoboCop does not go through this transition. He is Murphy the whole time. Even when he's in the suit. There is a variation of him being the emotionless cyborg but it is glossed over, like they had to do it because it was in the original instead of it really serving the story. That is the problem of this movie; it glosses over many things, like it goes over the bucket-list making sure it respects the original. Kinnaman lacks a commanding presence. He doesn't really do anything with the role.
    During better times
    The rest of the cast is good. Michael Keaton is a lot of fun as overzealous business mogul. Abbie Cornish gets to flesh out Clara Murphy a bit but the heart of the film is Gary Oldman. He makes the most of what little he has to work with. It's a very warm performance, comparable to his James Gordon from the Dark Knight trilogy. It's an absolute delight seeing Samuel L. Jackson hamming it up as Novak and provides the film's lighter moments. One of the biggest flaw of this film are the villains. They are barely in it. Patrick Garrow is unremarkable as arms dealer Vallon and Jackie Earle Haly as Mattox is the only one that comes close to being as colorful as the villains of the original. He just gets too little to do.
    Not exactly Clarence Boddicker
    I can't put all blame on director José Padilha though. He's a very, very good director. He knows what he's doing and is no stranger when it comes to social commentary. His Tropa de Elite movies stand testament to that. During the early days of production there were reports of Padilha saying that producers and other studio bigwigs were interfering with his vision for this film. It shows. The script is sloppy. A clear case of too many fingers in the pie. Too many ideas and too little time to execute. I do like the fact they used Basil Poledouris iconic RoboCop theme in the movie. It is used too little in the movie and at the wrong times. There is a scene in the movie where RoboCop trains against drones in a warehouse. It's comparable to the warehouse scene of the original. This would have been the perfect time to use the Robocop theme. Instead they chose to play rock music over the scene. Another lost opportunity. Pedro Bromfman's music score is pretty forgettable. Nothing special there.
    A sequel? Your move creep...
    Is RoboCop a disaster then? Surprisingly enough, no. It's a fine film actually. The only problem is that it's never outstanding. The problem is that it's already been done. Superbly I might add. It was clear they could not add anything, could not do something better than what they did back in the original. Yes, the visual effects have gotten a considerable upgrade and look fantastic but can't cover up the fact that the writers just mixed up the puzzle pieces and made something completely new and yet so familiar. So yes, it's a fine film it could have been much worse but it's also frustratingly mediocre. The movie never comes to life, boring at times and it ends in such a way that will leave you in your seat, watching the end-credits saying to yourself...”Was that it?”

  • It's beginning to look a lot like Valentine's Day! Ah, couples holding hands, cuddling up and celebrating each others love! Yes, I hate it. So, it's the perfect time to delve into one of those “love” films. You know, boy meets girl, girl wants to date boy but he rejects her; so girl turns into a murderous psycho. The typical stuff, we've all been there. I am going to keep this short! Let's take a look at the loved ones! 
    Look, when they threaten to nail a man's junk to a chair,
    then I've got no jokes to make!
    Brent (Xavier Samuel) accidentally killed his father in a car accident and now he spends most of his days tuned out and disconnected from the world. Suffering from depression and beat down by guilt, Brent mutes his pain with drugs. The only light in his life is his dedicated girlfriend Holly(Victoria Thain). Prom night is coming up and she wants him to take her to the dance. Another contender is taking her chances though. Shy little wallflower, Lola (Robin McLeavy) musters up all of her courage and ask Brent to be her date for prom night. He gently lets her down and leaves her standing alone in the school hallway. Brent never makes it to the dance though as a stranger drugs and kidnaps him. When he wakes up he finds himself strapped to a chair and at the mercy of Lola and her father! As he suffers unspeakable torture, He must fight to stay alive and find a way to escape before he permanently joins Lola's “collection” of dream dates.
    Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse...
    First of all, Australian horror rocks! After Wolf Creek surprised me, this film downright thrilled me. It gets right down to business and doesn't waste much time to get to the brutal stuff and believe me, this film doesn't shy away from a little blood. There is a subplot that seems to have nothing to do with the main story but the two story lines meet near the end but not in an entirely satisfying way. In fact, the whole third act is a bit too much actually. Had they toned it down slightly and eased us into the madness of the latter part of the movie, it would have been easier to swallow and digest. It's like they turned up the volume from a 5 to 10 in one turn. 
    It gets much, much worse!
    Is that a bad thing then? No, because the performances are so strong that you can forgive little beauty faults in the writing. Xavier Samuel's character Brent goes through an extreme amount of bodily harm. His kidnappers paralyze his vocal cords, so his performance is largely wordless and silent. He has to emote that pain, fear and anger through his eyes, facial expressions and body language and it works. The absolute star of this film is Robin McLeavy though. Her character Lola is utterly and I do mean utterly insane! Everything she says and does is soaked in venom and pure evil. This in stark contrast to her Barbie doll looks. It makes her even more terrifying. And yes, I do mean terrifying as McLeavy isn't playing this for laughs. Her portrayal of Lola is truly phenomenal.
    Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets
    Apart from minor gripes with the story, I don't really have anything negative to say about this film. All the actors are top notch, the director clearly knew what he was doing. The cinematography is excellent and everything is beautifully lit. Best of all, this is truly a horror movie. Yes, it is funny but in a cringing, looking away from the screen kind of way. It's that over the top. This is a movie that delivers and I can't recommended it enough. Be sure to watch it with your significant other. Happy Valentine's day!

  • Some things in life are just an undeniable fact. The sky is blue, hamburgers are delicious, love really does stink and you can trust The Asylum to release their own version of whatever movie the big studios have in their pipeline. Now that the Robocop remake is about to hit theaters worldwide, The Asylum took it upon themselves to enrich our lives with Android Cop. This movie deserves some scrutiny!
    The uhm..."future" of law enforcement?

    After a disastrous earthquake, A large part of Los Angeles has been destroyed. The survivors separated the rest of the city from the irradiated wastelands (A couple of fusion reactors got destroyed) with a wall. They call it “The Zone”. When hardboiled cop Hammond gets paired up with the latest law enforcement has to offer, he of course reluctantly agrees. Andi, an android and Hammond get requested by the mayor himself. They are asked to find his daughter that has gone missing. During their investigation they uncover a  foul conspiracy and the deeper they dig the deadlier it gets for them.
    His expression pretty much throughout the whole movie. Yes, sarcasm level +200!

    I haven't seen much Asylum movies but I do know they aren't exactly known for having huge budgets; So, I can't really judge them on the production values. How does the rest of this pan out then? First of all, this film is a strange mixture of Robocop, Mad Max, Surrogates, Training Day and every buddy cop movie ever made. There isn't one original idea to be found in this movie and yet somehow it works (We'll get to that later). Yes, the film looks cheap and had that distinct digital video look. Andi's suit looks bad, there is no weight to him he looks just like a guy in a plastic suit held together with duct tape. The visual effects and CGI are serviceable to bad at best. It gets the job done and matches the the cinematography quite well so, it's not too jarring or distracting. On a technical level this movie is nothing to write home about.
    ILM has nothing to fear.

    Noticed I've said nothing about the acting or story itself? To my big surprise the script was better than expected. Yeah, it has some minor subplots that go nowhere but for the rest of the time it keeps things focused and moving forward. It actually has a story to tell! There was even a twist in there that I did not see coming! Randy Wayne as Andi is pretty unremarkable but he has to play an emotionless android so, I can't really knock his performance too much. Kadeem Hardison as Sgt. Smith does his best Det. Alanzo Harris impersonation and chews some considerable scene-age. While the rest of the cast is fine, the best thing about this movie is Michael Jai White. His sarcasm and playfulness made this movie for me. See, the cast knew exactly in what kind of movie they were in and were hamming it up to the max. I'm not sure if it was intentional but this movie had me laughing out loud the whole time. 
    Bring on Android Cop 2.0!

    Android Cop is exactly what you expect it to be. A low budget, action comedy. What you see is what you get. It does have something of a solid story and very funny performances. Also, the ending of this movie! Oh, don't worry I won't spoil it but it's like waiting for the punchline of a joke that never comes. That to me made it even more funnier. I went into this movie with a frown but left it smiling from ear to ear. I found it to be quite delightful. Is it a good film then? Not really but i've definitely seen worse. 

  • It's time for a little Viewer Vomit! Now, what's that you ask? It's when critic extraordinaire, Ryne Barber chooses two movies of his liking and invites others to write a review for it. Those reviews will be featured (along with his own of course) on his site The world is a dead moon (Go check it out). Our choices this time were House of whipcord and The Rig. I chose the latter movie. Now, let's get right into it then! 
    Where the "magic" happens!

    After one of their remote submersibles malfunctions, the skeleton crew of oil rig “Charlie” don't get much time to asses the damage. A storm is about to hit them. They've been ordered to “button up” and sit it out. During their off hours, one of the crew members goes missing. After an unsuccessful search the crew is on edge. Things go from bad to worse when they find their boss' office covered in blood and torn apart. From that moment on they discover that strange and deadly creatures have found their way onto the rig. The same things that have damaged the submersible. Without any means of escape and no communications, the crew decides to hunt down these creatures but soon become the hunted themselves.
    Our fearless monster hunters

    I could delve deep into this film but truth to be told, it just doesn't have enough substance to do so. What surprised me the most is that this film was dead boring. It took me a couple of viewings to get through it all. You see, when you make an ALIEN rip-off (Yes, they even have the Weyland logo plastered all over the place) it's most certainly possible to make an amusing and/or watchable B-movie at best. The Rig is full of lengthy and dull dialog. Not to mention the unnecessary subplots that have no payoff. It would have been better if they'd concentrated on creating atmosphere and tension instead of forcing drama that is out of place in a movie like this. 
    Hey, look ma! Another obvious reference to Alien!

    Its biggest flaw is that the monsters seem to be an afterthought. It pops up here and there randomly reminding you, the viewer that, hey “This is still a horror movie”. Really? Why does it seem like the writers thought this was On Golden Pond? In this instance, and I never thought I'd say this but too much character development was a bad thing here.
    "Remember me? Just reminding you i'm still in this flick too!"

    Even though the writing is bad, I can't completely knock this film down. Knowing how hard it is to make a movie, I have to commend the makers for their effort. What vision or ideas they had, they made it a reality. The locations, monster suits and visual effects; it's all on screen. They even managed to get William Forsythe to star in this. I'm guessing he owed the director something and I'm pretty sure that after reading the script; he made sure that his role was cut short, very short. He's the best thing in the movie but barely in it.
    William Forsythe, after he read the script

    So, is THE RIG a bad movie then? Not really, it's just not very exciting. From the cinematography, lighting to the performances, it's all just so very boring. You just don't care for any of the characters or what they go through. The Rig isn't good but also nowhere near that “so bad it becomes amusing” type of thing. It's just there on screen, killing your time with its mediocrity. You know, just re-watch Alien. It'll be time better spent.

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