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Paul Verhoeven
Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O'Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer, Robert DoQui, Ray Wise, Felton Perry
Writing Credits:
Michael Miner, Edward Neumeier

Part man. Part machine. All cop. The future of law enforcement.

He's Robocop, the cyborg star of one of the most thrilling, action-packed film series of all time! Critics loved him. Criminals hated him. And audiences cheered him on in his relentless quest to serve, uphold and protect!

Set in the not-too-distant future, Robocop is the science-fiction phenomenon that has it all: "amazing stunts" (Variety), "compelling special effects" (The Village Voice), "solidly executed action sequences" (Entertainment Today). This is the unrated, extended version of the first film with exclusive bonus features that take you behind the scenes.

Box Office:
$13 million.
Opening Weekend
$8.008 million on 1580 screens.
Domestic Gross
$53.424 million.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby Surround 4.0
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 103 min.
Price: $59.99
Release Date: 10/5/2010

Available As Part of “The Robocop Trilogy”.

• Trailers


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Robocop: Robocop Trilogy [Blu-Ray] (1987)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 21, 2010)

Proof that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, 1987’s Robocop overcame its terrible and cheesy title to become something of a classic. Set in the then-future of 1997, Robocop takes us to “Old Detroit”, an insanely dilapidated and crime-ridden area. We learn that the police force has gone corporate, as the private interests of OCP (Omni Consumer Products) run crime enforcement.

As a method to help secure the territory they plan to use for a project called Delta City - which will go over Old Detroit - the powers at OCP attempt to find a mechanical cop. Senior President Dick Jones (Ronny Cox) pushes ED-209, an “enforcement droid”, but his initial attempt to win over his superior fails miserably. Executive Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer) intercepts his boss “The Old Man” (Dan O’Herlihy) and presents his plan for “Robocop”, a crime-fighting cyborg.

In the meantime, we meet Alex Murphy (Peter Weller), a cop who just transferred to Metro West, apparently the roughest area of the city. He gets partnered with Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen) and the pair hit the streets. They run into a gang run by scummy Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) and this encounter ends poorly. Boddicker and his men capture Murphy and then torture and shoot him.

After Murphy dies, OCP forces get a hold of him. They use him for their experiment and turn him into Robocop. He becomes a one-man police force and functions effectively. However, the Murphy in him starts to slowly emerge, a factor accentuated when Lewis sees her old partner’s personality and tries to get the machine in touch with the man.

The rest of the movie follows those movements toward humanity as well as visions of the corruption at OCP. We see the tensions between Morton and Jones, who still wants to push ED-209 and his career. Boddicker’s gang gets involved, and all points start to head toward each other at the movie’s climax.

23 years after its initial release, it’s hard to remember what an impact Robocop had. Many movies since then incorporated its cutting style, cynical humor and comic darkness and integration of different story-telling devices. These don’t seem quite as fresh now, but they still work really well for the movie.

Really, Robocop should have been nothing more than cheesy drive-in fodder. Clearly the title led us to see it as a tacky exploitation flick, but ala The Terminator a few years earlier, the movie overcame those obstacles. Not only did it offer a fun a lively experience, but also it proved to be influential and groundbreaking.

Director Paul Verhoeven never managed to live up to this level again, unfortunately. Robocop marked the Dutch director’s first American effort, and while future sci-fi action flicks Total Recall and Starship Troopers had their moments, they never remotely compared to the strengths of Robocop. (2000’s Hollow Man proved much less successful artistically, and the less said about Verhoeven’s non-sci-fi efforts like Basic Instinct and Showgirls the better.)

While Robocop may have signaled heights Verhoeven would never again reach, that doesn’t diminish the film’s effectiveness. A lot of the reason for the flick’s success deals with its sense of drama and heart. Despite the over-the-top bloodshed and violence and the black humor that infuses it, Robocop never loses sight of the tragedy inherent in it. The scene in which Boddicker’s gang tortures Murphy ranks as one of the most troubling caught on film, and the sense of loss and sadness connected to the tragic figure adds weight and depth to the story.

Not that one should interpret Robocop as one long downer. It has a lot of fun with its subject and rarely passes up on an opportunity for cynical laughs. Moments like the one in which Robo rescues a woman from potential rapists concludes with her weepy thanks and his amusingly cold reaction. The movie pulls off these moments well, and they help make it darkly hilarious.

Excellent performances all around help bolster Robocop as well. Stuck in the Frankenstein’s monster role, Weller proves wonderfully human and robotic at the same time. He presents the mechanical movements effortlessly, but he always reminds us of the machine’s past and his Murphy side. Among the villains, Smith deserves particular mention for his marvelously scummy turn as Clarence. Have we ever seen another baddie so gleefully horrible?

A flick that can be enjoyed on many levels, Robocop proved influential and remains a strong piece of work. Some elements seem dated - its Eighties roots often show - but the dark and subversive movie still works most of the time. It’s an action film with brains and a heart.

Note that this disc presents an unrated cut of Robocop. This simply adds a few seconds of violence to the scene in which ED-209 malfunctions as well as the sequence in which the gang kills Murphy. Nothing substantial changes in these pieces, but the more graphic images alter their impact somewhat.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

Robocop appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. A somewhat erratic picture, the movie generally looked fine, but some distractions popped up along the way.

Sharpness varied. Most of the film seemed acceptably concise and well-defined, but exceptions occurred. Some shots looked a soft and without great definition, usually during wider elements. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering showed up, and edge enhancement remained absent. (Actually, jaggies did show up in the “RoboVision” shots, but that was intentional.) Grain could be prominent but not problematic, and source flaws weren’t a factor; other than a couple of tiny specks, the movie looked clean.

Not exactly a flick with a bright palette, the colors of Robocop seemed acceptable and that was about it. The tones seemed somewhat flat but they were reasonably accurate much of the time. Blacks seemed somewhat inky, and low-light shots came across as a bit dense on occasion. Robocop still looked good enough for a “C+”, but the image never excelled.

Back in the early Nineties, the audio of Robocop often earned plaudits as one of the top tracks available on laserdisc. That was a long time ago, and the audio no longer seems exceptional, even with this lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 remix. The soundfield appeared inconsistent. At times it presented a vivid and lively sense of place, whereas other sequences felt much more limited and restricted.

In general, though, the mix opened up the spectrum fairly well and gave us a reasonable amount of localized information. The rear speakers played a pretty active role during the action scenes, and they even offered occasional examples of split-surround material; for instance, we get nicely placed voices at the police station, and cars move from one spot to another well.

As with the soundfield, the quality of the audio appeared inconsistent. Speech came across as somewhat tinny at times, but the lines lacked edginess and remained easily intelligible. Music was a little subdued and occasionally got lost in the mix, but the score demonstrated adequate breadth and range.

Effects varied. Sometimes they were acceptably robust and dynamic, as some scenes offered lively elements with good pop. Other times the effects felt limp and flat, and a few action sequences lost punch due to weak execution. Bass response was lackluster, and this gave the track a less than impressive feel. Overall, the audio of Robocop was too erratic to earn more than a “B-”, but it was still fairly good for its age.

How did the picture and audio of this Blu-ray compare with the most recent DVD? Audio seemed pretty similar, and the visuals didn’t boast great improvements. Blu-ray’s higher resolution made the image a bit tighter, but it also ensured that the soft shots were even more noticeable, and it didn’t come with any more pop to colors or blacks. The Blu-ray looked better, but it wasn’t a killer upgrade.

Although the 2004 and 2007 Robocop DVDs included extensive supplements, virtually none of these migrate to the Blu-ray. Instead, we get trailers for Robocop, To Live and Die in LA, The Usual Suspects and Bulletproof Monk.

Audiences found a very pleasant surprise with Robocop in 1987, and the movie remains a winner. It combines cynical comedy with violent action and emotional depth to present a solid piece of work. The Blu-ray provides erratic but decent picture and audio, while it omits virtually all supplements. Given the lack of extras and the less than impressive picture/sound, fans will probably be happiest with the 20th Anniversary DVD; I think it’s the best mix of film presentation and bonus materials.

Note that the reviewed disc came as part of “The Robocop Trilogy”. It appears to be the same Blu-ray that can be purchased individually. Both Robocop 2 and Robocop 3 are exclusive to the “Trilogy” set, however.

To rate this film, visit the original review of ROBOCOP

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