Robocop (2014)

What makes a man a man and not a robot? This is the question at the heart of RoboCop. People can feel, preventing them from hurting a child, where a robot won’t care. But the manufacturer of all this equipment, OmniCorp, argues that humans can also feel fear, anger, despair, and disillusion—and can be corrupted. The way OmniCorp decides to circumvent the law is to combine the body of a robot with the brain of a man.

Although lacking the humor of the 1987 original, RoboCop tells its tale well, has a great cast, and its many mammoth action set pieces and shoot-’em-ups are well executed and come across well in this transfer. The look is down and dirty, but the transfer is excellent. Many scenes are low lit, taking place at night, but there’s oodles of detail with lots of visible stubble and lines in aging actors’ faces. The RoboCop suit reveals all its shiny surfaces sharp as a razor. Its darkest sections are inky black. There’s not much saturated color—like I said, it’s all about the low-life grime of Detroit—but the scarlet visor light sure looks rich and beautiful against the black. Skintones are natural. are good atmospherics and bassy effects, like the booming footsteps of the massively heavy robots, guns resounding like cannons, and drone jets blasting by overhead. The many flyovers made me wish there’d been a 7.1-channel soundtrack—you even get cars driving over your head—but the 5.1 mix is fine, with effects accurately panned for vehicles and choppers that come past your head into or out of the room or across the screen. In the many gun battles—maybe too many—bullets ricochet all around. In the score—made up of strings and electronica orchestral, rock, and even a little Sinatra—the well-detailed music is moved around the room. When RoboCop is unconscious and having a hallucination that he’s dancing with his wife, Frankie croons from the surrounds as if in your head; as the scientists wake him up, the voice relocates to the front channels. Dialogue is clear and resonant.

Slim extras include four minutes of deleted scenes and an OmniCorp product announcement, neither of them worth much. Three interesting featurettes, amounting to 28 minutes, focus on the reinvention of the story of RoboCop and compare the two films, RoboCop’s weapons, Joel Kinnaman’s training for the role, and what went into the Robosuits.

Studio: MGM, 2014
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 117 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: José Padilha
Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton