RoboCop

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There are many reasons to enjoy RoboCop, still beloved (and now remade) after 27 years. If you don’t like the brilliantly executed action, there’s the biting statement about ’80s greed in America. If you don’t appreciate the scathing satire, there’s the poignant struggle of a good man trying to regain his identity. See, policeman Murphy lost twice: once at the gun barrels of ruthless criminals, then to the schemes of corporate weasels, who fused him with the latest technology to make him roughly 50 percent machine but still 100 percent cop, on a mission to clean up Old Detroit of the near future.

The movie was ambitious beyond its budget, but thankfully all involved brought their A-game, from the cast’s inspired performances to Basil Poledouris’ operatic musical score to the innovative use of old-school special effects, to Rob Bottin’s landmark RoboSuit and makeup work. At its core were an audaciously original script and the unique filmmaking voice of Paul Verhoeven, an accomplished Dutch director making his big-screen Hollywood debut. The results were unlike anything audiences had ever seen, a bloody but resonant thriller with laughter and soul. Purists take note: This is the unrated Director’s Cut, with brief changes throughout that amp up the intensity.

514robo.box.jpgOften a dark, shadowy movie, it looks better here than I’ve ever seen it at home, owing to Fox/MGM’s new 4K remaster. The blacks are vastly improved from the previous Blu-ray, now more natural and organic. A light layer of film grain remains; otherwise, the 1.85:1 image is virtually blemish free. The weave of the executives’ gabardine and the myriad textures of the Robo armor are plain to see, while the many close-ups gain greater immediacy. Colors too, while still restrained, have taken on a new life. One minor gripe is the rare occasion of a weird strobing effect in fast motion.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 remix is full of clever surround moments: atmospheric cues, voices, bullets, and of course the exquisite complexity of lumbering ED-209, no doubt a factor in RoboCop’s Special Achievement Oscar for Sound Effects Editing. The track lacks some sonic sparkle up top and boom down below, but there is definitely an above-average low-end presence throughout the violent action.

The complement of extras is ported from the DVD—including commentary, deleted scenes, and featurettes—expanded with a “new” 2012 Q&A session by the reunited cast and crew, an understandably satisfied bunch.

Blu-Ray
Studio: Fox/MGM, 1987
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 103 mins.
MPAA Rating: NR
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Starring: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Ronny Cox

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