While the phrase is overused, this truly is a film that needs no introduction. RoboCop is a modern classic, so well-known and beloved that there’s not much I can add to the discussion of this brutally violent and hilariously clever film.
Still, for the few who may not have seen RoboCop before, then you’re in for a treat. Released at the height of ’80s excess, this movie did a glorious job of parodying the hypocrisy inherent in advertising, business, and classism. The humor still feels poignant and clever, while the action scenes are just as visceral as ever, particularly in the new 4K version of the flick, which looks gorgeous (but thankfully doesn’t loose any of the grit and grain that gives the film so much character). The cast is a “who’s who” of character actors and genre mainstays, all of whom are clearly having a blast with the material and elevate some of the film’s baser instincts.
Even after all of these years, Peter Weller is particularly mesmerizing in the title role. From his first scenes portraying the “aw shucks” optimism of pre-murder Alex Murphy, Weller pours his heart and soul into this performance. His movements as RoboCop are appropriately mechanical and, with the film looking crisper and cleaner than ever before, it’s even more apparent just how studied his body language was. It’s much plainer for a viewer to see how he makes these little micro-adjustments to his performance as the film goes on, giving us our first hints that he’s regaining his humanity. It’s a truly wonderful performance that occasionally gets forgotten by audiences amidst all of the carnage and dark humor.
This new Blu-ray from Arrow Video is essentially the definitive release of the movie, packing in hours of bonus content and three(!) different cuts of the film: the original theatrical cut, the 2014 Director’s Cut (which reinstated several gory shots that initially earned the film an X rating from the MPAA), and the television edit, which is notable for censoring terms as innocuous as “scumbag.” In other words, whether you’ve seen the film a thousand times or are just now being introduced to it, this release will give you more RoboCop than you can handle.
The release is packed to the gills with bonus content, including multiple featurettes diving into the film’s production history. These take the viewer from the initial inception of the idea for RoboCop, director Paul Verhoeven’s many contributions to the process, the makeup and special effects designs, and more.
By far one of the most interesting (and occasionally very amusing) bonus features is a side-by-side comparison of the different cuts in the film, allowing viewers to truly appreciate the alterations. The extra shots during the infamous boardroom scene really hammer home why actor Kevin Page still holds the world record for most squibs in one scene (a story that was amusingly recounted in a personal favorite episode of the podcast I Was There Too). Meanwhile, the alternate angles and outtakes used to pad out the TV edit of the movie show just how painstakingly assembled this version of the film really was. It took more than a few dialogue overdubs to make this flick palatable to ABC audiences in the 80s, is all I’m saying!
There are several behind the scenes interviews that have been newly filmed for this release, including a lovely talk with Nancy Allen as she recounts her process of auditioning for the role of Anne Lewis and shooting RoboCop. The entire interview is charming, with Allen sharing her thoughts on the film’s enduring legacy.
Many of the bonus features have carried over from earlier releases of RoboCop, resulting in the most complete edition of the film, which should make fans very happy. All in all, even if you own the film already, this is one case where it’s worth double-dipping.
(Insert joke here about buying this for a dollar, even when it’s certainly worth way more.)