Tastes Like Baby Food
“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.”
A hefty grain structure asks a lot of Arrow’s compression routine. Hazy police station interiors add to the challenge. While teetering, the encode holds up, maintaining a filmic aesthetic. The digital nature only shows if closely looking. It’s pleasing, and even when grain spikes via multiple exposures in the visual effects, clarity is held together.
From a 4K scan, texture and sharpness make only marginal gains over Blu-ray. RoboCop still makes use of this format, drawing out facial definition, the steely RoboCop suit, and the Detroit exteriors. Given the cinematography, there’s only so much to see.
The bigger gains, as usual, come from the new Dolby Vision pass. While not consistent (again, the cinematography chooses to overexpose the film stock in places), overall the depth looks stellar. Black levels bring greater shadows into the frame, with marginal gains to detail. A crisp boost to brightness emboldens highlights, newly enhanced by the tech. Better though is the color saturation, giving new life to flesh tones, accentuating primaries, and finding the blues/purples on Robo’s metal.
Mirroring the Blu-ray, three (!) DTS-HD options apply to either version, but there’s also a new Dolby Atmos track too. This sports enhanced low-end, immediately powerful as ED-209 takes the first steps. They’re thundering, tight, and naturally added to this otherwise vintage audio. Same with the gas station explosion. It’s an improvement over the boomy 5.1 track created prior, offering calibrated range that doesn’t push too far while preserving the source’s purity. In terms of Atmos effects, the focus stays primarily on the score, lifting the music to expand an already wide track.
As for the DTS-HD mixes, 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.
Arrow ports over the same bonuses, and that’s not an issue. 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.
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 remains a startling, meaningful dark satire that’s lost none of its power or entertainment value over the decades.
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 61 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: