6000 SUX

The remarkable thing about RoboCop is how right it was. Robocop’s news is broadcast in three minute chunks, predicting short attention spans. Commercials for branded artificial hearts air between segments, prophesying drug makers claiming free speech when advertising prescription products. OCP Vice President Morton (Miguel Ferrer) states the company turned previously risky markets – private prisons, hospitals – into profit centers; both became contentious truths.

RoboCop stands as one of the ‘80s most noteworthy documents. Where something like Ghostbusters used its position to praise Reagan era philosophy, RoboCop is a total satirical drubbing of that ideology. At its core, RoboCop concerns profiteering and the way money removes the humanity in all of us.

There’s Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) willing to exploit an incoming workforce – set to gentrify Old Detroit – for gambling and prostitution. After the ED-209 defense robot mutilates one of their board, OCP higher-ups gather in a huddle to bemoan the “glitch” and higher interest payments; the corpse still smolders in the corner while they talk. Later, another ED-209 draws its weapons for a parking violation. And the news? When a former government employee is tossed from an upper floor window, cameraman not only rush forward, they track the fall as to capture it all. If it bleeds, it leads.

RoboCop envisioned a future in which Wall Street swindlers and corporate cheats have protections the poor do not

As an undeniable truth though, RoboCop (Peter Weller) ingeniously brings automation’s social effects to life. It’s not that he’s a robot, rather that he acts like one. His programming leads him to a carryout robbery where he throws the crook through a cooler, wishes the owners a nice day, and walks out. Meanwhile, the elderly couple needs to deal with the perp themselves. Arriving at an attempted rape, RoboCop shoots one of the men. The female victim runs to RoboCop, crying and thanking him, to which he blankly responds, “I will notify a rape crisis center.” It’s equivalent to calling 911, and being asked to press 2 for service.

In its ultimate joke, OCP, who privatized the police force, programmed RoboCop with Directive 4: He cannot arrest any member of their board. With that, RoboCop envisioned a future in which Wall Street swindlers and corporate cheats have protections the poor do not. They can pay to design law to their benefit.

All of this wraps around a vividly violent commentary on media violence. In a decade of Schwarzenegger and Stallone, RoboCop practically slanders their brands. Later, with a total lack of corporate self-awareness, RoboCop filtered down to kids with videogames and an animated TV series, completing the trash media cycle exposed by the in-movie, broadcast lunacy that spawned, “I’ll buy that for a dollar.”

Not only is RoboCop darkly comedic and brilliant, it’s all too genuine as well.

Video

Drawn from a 2013 4K master, Arrow delivers both the unrated and extended cuts on separate discs. In basic terms, the two look identical. That’s a good thing. This is gorgeous mastering work, capable of handling this heavy, thick ‘80s film stock. Grain stars here, ably commanded by this encode, and never less than filmic. That’s truly impressive during the warehouse shoot-out, with the scene showered in cocaine.

Although a mere handful of shots wane in definition (those previously censored moments rescued from lesser prints), the majority displays marvelous resolution. Substantial texture brings facial detail in full, all the way down to paint flecks on the RoboCop suit. A few city exteriors draw exquisitely sharp lines. The abandoned mill brings out incredible rust, wear, and weathering.

Black levels relax, a touch less than firm, though thankfully causing only a minor loss in depth. It’s no cause for alarm. Contrast makes up the difference anyway. RoboCop’s metal glistens under any light. The bland fluorescent light in OCP’s HQ butts against the natural light in the police station. That’s a smart dynamic, preserved here.

While never a saturated film, it’s easy to spy the beautiful metallics used to shade the RoboCop suit. Blood certainly stands out too. Vibrancy is apparent through multiple explosions, while Detroit’s browns and grays take on new life.

Audio

Three (!) DTS-HD options apply to either version. The most natural is arguably the 4.0, an organic step up from 2.0, and without the artificial boldness in the 5.1 track (although the latter has positives too). Listen as technicians screw the final pieces into RoboCop’s head. Each position brings the drill sound to a different channel. Club music stretches outward, and gunfire pops from the available speakers.

Basil Poledouris’ awesome score is expertly balanced and flawlessly clean. It’s wide and bold, while dialog isn’t limited by the older analog source.

Extras

Two discs for this one, beginning with the director’s cut. Arrow goes to the trouble to edit Paul Veerhoven’s theatrical commentary track to fit the unrated cut. Historian Paul Sammon comes in on track two, and there’s a third commentary from a trio of fans.

A conversation with co-writer Micheal Miner begins a series of newly completed interviews. This one runs 17-minutes. Co-writer Ed Neumeier joins Orion veteran Nicholas McCarthy and David Birke in a roundtable chat that runs 32-minutes. Nancy Allen is up next for 18-minutes. Julie Selzer, casting director, speaks for eight minutes.

Second unit director Mark Goldblatt talks for 11-minutes. Peter Kuran and Kevin Kutchaver designed the analog video effects for RoboCop, speaking for 13-minutes. Composer Basil Poledouris sadly passed away, but a variety of historians give the man his due for 12-minutes. A tour of a French collector with actual props tours his items for 13-minutes; it’s fantastic, and includes snippets of behind-the-scenes footage. A Q&A from 2012 runs 42-minutes, including Phil Tippett, Veerhoven, Allen, and more.

Up next, archive features from previous disc releases. Watch ’em if you haven’t yet, especially one detailing the suit work with Peter Weller. Eleven minutes of raw production footage is simply incredible to see. Storyboards, trailers, deleted scenes, and an exhaustive image gallery finish disc one.

On the theatrical cut disc, the Veerhoven commentary repeats. Two (!) isolated scores, one original, the other a final mix, bring additional listening options. The complete edited-for-TV version shows up (in SD). A compilation of the new TV scenes, some restored from 35mm stock, comes next. Split-screen examples compare the theatrical/director’s cut and theatrical/TV cut.

So yes, it’s a 5-star release.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

RoboCop
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Movie

On the surface, RoboCop’s hokey premise doesn’t seem like much, but it’s proven a capable predictor of social ills, inequality, and idiocy.

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User Review
3.25 (4 votes)

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