Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Treading water at the very surface of RoboCop, there is an idea. A dense concept, ready and willing to provide no dearth of dissection for any eager student of philosophy, psychology, political science, physics — hell, any of the Ps. To simplify the idea on hand: What separates man from machine? It's a question that is not just teased by the basic premise of José Padilha's remake of the 1987 sci-fi staple, but asked outright by many of its main characters. And then never really worried about again.
We have principal parties on both sides of the ethical quandary that would place the security of our crime-ridden cities in the hands of automatons. Samuel L. Jackson plays a spitfire Bill O'Reilly who wonders why America hasn't lined its streets with high-efficiency officer droids. Zach Grenier, as a moralistic senator, gobbles his way through an opposition to the Pro-boCop movement. We hear lecture after lecture from pundits, politicians, business moguls (a money-hungry Michael Keaton heads the nefarious OmniCorp...) and scientists (...while his top doc Gary Oldman questions the nature of his assignments while poking at patients' brains and spouting diatribes about "free will"), all working their hardest to lay thematic groundwork. Each character insists that we're watching a movie about the distinction between human and artificial intelligence. That even with an active brain, no robot can understand what it means to have a heart. But when Prof. Oldman tempers his hysterical squawking and Samuel L. Hannity rolls his closing credits, we don't see these ideas taking life.
In earnest, the struggle of rehabilitated police officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) — nearly killed in the line of duty and turned thereafter into OmniCorp's prototype RoboCop — doesn't seem to enlist any of the questions that his aggravated peers have been asking. Murphy is transformed not just physically, but mentally — robbed of his decision-making ability and depleted of emotional brain chemicals — effectively losing himself in the process. But the journey we see take hold of Murphy is not one to reclaim his soul, although the movie touts it as such. It's really just one to become a better robot.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Meanwhile, RoboCop lays down its motives, and hard: Murphy's wife and son (Abbie Cornish and a puckish young John Paul Ruttan) lament the loss of Alex, condemning his dehumanization at the hands of Raymond Sellars' (Keaton) capitalistic experiments, and sobbing out some torrential pathos so you know just how deep this company is digging. Weaselly stooges (Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle, and Jackie Earl Haley) line the OmniCorp roster with comical wickedness. Overseas, killer combat bots take down peaceful villages, unable to work empathetic judgment into their decision to destroy all deemed as "threats." And at the top, figures of power and money like Sellars and Pat Novak (Jackson) speak the loudest and harshest, literally justifying their agenda with a call for all naysayers to "stop whining." Clearly, RoboCop has something to say.
The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips.
And when it's devoted to its outrage, RoboCop is terrifically charming. The buzzing political world is just a tiny step closer to ridiculous than our own; the pitch meetings at OmniCorp are fun enough to provoke a ditching of all the material outside of the company walls. And one particular reference to The Wizard of Oz shows that the movie isn't above having fun with its admittedly silly premise. But it loses its magic when it steps away from goofy gimmicks and satirical monologues and heads back into the story. We don't see enough of Murphy grappling with the complicated balance between his conflicting organic and synthetic selves. In fact, we don't see enough "story" in Murphy at all. First, he's a dad and a cop. Then, he's a RoboCop. But can he also be a RoboDad? With all of its ranting and raving about the question, the film doesn't seem to concerned with actually figuring out the answer.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Beckinsale hit by pickpockets twice in two days
British actress Kate Beckinsale was targeted by pickpockets twice in two days during Christmas shopping trips in London earlier this week. The Underworld star first fell victim to a sly thief on Monday between the time she left her limousine with husband Len Wiseman and when she went to pay for gifts in plush department store Harrods. An insider says, "Kate and Lenny spent a few hours browsing. But when they got to the till they realized they had been stung. It was a disaster, they had no way to pay. "It was a real panic because they had left all their Christmas shopping to the last minute. They borrowed money from friends to make sure there would be presents under the tree on Christmas morning." Beckinsale was next touched by crime when she returned to the store with her personal assistant, who had her purse stolen at some point during the visit. The insider adds, "Kate and Lenny can't believe their bad luck. You never expect something like that to happen two days running."
Stone disrobes for new film
Basic Instinct actress Sharon Stone plans to continue disrobing for the big
screen as she approaches her fifth decade. The Hollywood blonde, 46, shot a steamy naked scene with Bill Murray for an untitled movie from director Jim Jarmusch, which was filmed in New York in September. A source says, "It's a romantic comedy and Sharon didn't blink at the nude scene--it's done with a lot of humor."
Anderson and Dorff smooch on a beach
Former Baywatch beauty Pamela Anderson has been photographed passionately kissing actor Stephen Dorff, quashing reports she's dating a model. Anderson, 37, had been linked with Christian Monzon but recently surprised onlookers by smooching Blade star Dorff on a Malibu, California, beach. One says, "It wasn't long before Pammy stripped off and Dorff couldn't keep his eyes off her body." A friend of the hunk adds, "They have a lot in common. This could be the start of something special."
Jolie's Santa silence
Hollywood star Angelina Jolie's young son Maddox won't be waiting for Santa
Claus tonight--the actress has banned Father Christmas.
The Alexander beauty celebrates Yuletide every year, but refuses to join
fellow parents by claiming the fictional festive gift-bearer and his reindeer
will climb down Maddox's chimney. Jolie says, "I don't want to tell him Santa Claus exists when he doesn't. I don't know about the Easter Bunny, either."
Scorsese baffled by his Oscar failure
Acclaimed director Martin Scorsese is surprised he hasn't won an Academy Award,
but has grown to accept he may never pick up a coveted Oscar. Scorsese's latest film, The Aviator, is hotly tipped to win many awards at the 2005 Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles, but the filmmaker has no expectations he'll win anything. The 62-year-old says, "I don't know how much it means to me anymore. It's more about the movie at this point because I'm too old for it. "I think when you're young and have that first burst of energy and make five or six pictures in a row that tell the stories of all the things in life you
want to say. Well, maybe those are the films that should have won me the Oscar. "When Taxi Driver (1976) was up for Best Picture, it got three other nominations: Best Actor (Robert De Niro), Best Supporting Actress (Jodie Foster), and Best Music. But the director and writer (Paul Schrader) were overlooked. "I was so disappointed, I said, 'You know what, that's the way it's going to be.' What was I going to do, go home and cry? "You don't make pictures for Oscars."
Hawking's wife angry over new Simpsons cameo
Disabled scientist Professor Stephen Hawking's decision to make a second cameo appearance in The Simpsons has angered his wife. The forthcoming episode of the TV cartoon show will feature electro-convulsive shock therapy (ECT) being used to treat schizophrenia, a plot device Elaine Hawking thinks shouldn't be used in an animated comedy. She says, "I'm not altogether happy with it. I just don't think that ECT's the sort of thing that anybody should make fun out of--it's just not right for comedy. "I read the scripts and obviously told Stephen of my concerns, but he thinks it's fine, so I'll have to go along with that."
Articles Copyright World Entertainment News Network All Rights Reserved.