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.
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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.
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When it comes to athletes trying to act, a lot of them fail and the public says, "It's OK. They're athletes. " Some break through and are able to shine on either the big screen or the television. Here's 10 of them that were able to make the best transition - and although he was somewhat funny in the Naked Gun movies, I'm not including O.J. Simpson.
1. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Before he was the Terminator or Conan the Barbarian, he was a bodybuilder. Some may not think that's a sport, but it takes many hours of dedicated training to reach the levels that Ahnuld did (though some say he got help from a syringe). If you watch the movies, he moves with an athletes' grace - in my mind he deserves to be on the list.
2. The Rock
There are some who may scoff at Dwayne Johnson's placement on the list, saying that professional wrestling is not a sport. It is in the sense that the wrestlers often have to do very difficult and acrobatic acts in the ring. He also played college football at Miami, which does NOT take slouches. While he's had some lesser fare in the past few years, he's making an action comeback.
3. Jason Statham
Bet you didn't know that before he got Cranked Up and kicked butt as the Transporter and an Expendable, he was on the British National Diving team. Perhaps he threatened to punch and kick the water if it dared ripple when he dove in.
4. Fred Dryer
Dryer played in the NFL for 13 seasons, mostly with the Los Angeles Rams, back when Los Angeles HAD a football team. He even had an interception for a touchdown. He then went on to have a long run onthe TV cop show Hunter. After the show ended in 1991, he's continued to have a lot of guest spots on shows, even now.
5. Bubba Smith
Smith, who played 7 seasons in the NFL, really became well-known for his role in Police Academy and its subsequent increasingly bad sequels, though he he been appearing on TV shows before that. He was able to use his size and strength for laughs. He died in 2011.
6. Bob Uecker
Uecker, who parlayed his mediocre baseball career as a catcher for comedy ("How do you catch a knuckleball? Wait till it stops rolling behind you and pick it up.") and commercials before appearing on the TV show Mr. Belvedere and Major League. He continues to broadcast for the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team.
7. Alex Karras
Who can forget Karras, who played 12 seasons for the Detroit Lions in the NFL, playing Mongo in Blazing Saddles? Of course, after that, he was on Webster with Emmanuel Lewis. Talk about a size disparity with co-stars.
8. Andre The Giant
Another wrestler, Andre is known for only one role, but oh what a role: Fezzik from The Princess Bride. People could argue that he was doing good acting when he was threatening to strangle Hulk Hogan in the WWF (before the WWE name change). Alas, he died too young, at the age of 46.
9. Carl Weathers
Weathers is best known for the role of Apollo Creed in the Rocky movies. He also was alien bait in the first Predator movie. Before that, he played a couple of seasons in the NFL. His greatest cinematic moment though had to be the most awkward bro-hug with Sylvester Stallone in Rocky III.
10. Jason Lee
Lee was a pro skateboarder before he became an actor, mostly playing slacker roles (My Name Is Earl) before switching to family fare like Alvin and the Chipmunks. How good was he? He was chosen to get his own brand of skating shoes, which put him up there with some dude named Tony Hawk.
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Following a trying war with kidney failure, former athlete and actor Alex Karras passed away Wednesday at the age of 77. Karras died in his Los Angeles home at the age of 77, surrounded by his family, as reported by Boston.com. Football fans will remember Karras as defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions, while television audiences will recall the actor’s costarring role on the 1980s sitcom Webster.
Karras was born in Gary, Ind. In 1935 to a Greek father and Canadian mother — Karras and his two older brothers all pursued careers in the National Football League, with Alex also exploring the worlds of professional wrestling and acting.
Following several smaller television roles, Karras took his first big screen spot in Mel Brooks’ classic 1974 screwball comedy Blazing Saddles, playing the fan favorite character of Mongo — a monstrous behemoth with a foul temper and a penchant for quick asides of philosophical insight.
The actor maintained a big screen prominence with major roles in 1970s comedies like Win, Place or Steal and FM, breaching the ‘80s with films like Porky’s and Victor Victoria.
But Karras’ most memorable contribution to Hollywood is undoubtedly his character of George Papadapolis, father figure on ABC’s Webster, playing opposite real-life wife Susan Clark and Emmanuel Lewis. On the series, Karras played a former football player who adopted the son of his old teammate after the latter and his wife are killed in a car accident.
Prior to Clark, whom he married in 1980, Karras was married to Joan Jurgenson from 1958 to 1975. He has five children with Jurgenson and one with Clark.
[Photo Credit: ABC/Getty Images]
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The Webster star allegedly failed to pay $44,081 (£27,550) in state, county and school taxes to officials in Georgia and his property went into foreclosure.
Lewis lost his home in September (11), when it sold at auction for $56,000 (£35,000), according to documents obtained by TMZ.com.
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts will honor director Spike Lee with a Special Award, Reuters reports. The Brooklynite, known for his films such as Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X, burst onto the movie scene in 1986, quickly establishing himself as one of the most important young American filmmakers and a controversial figure in black culture. BAFTA President Lord Attenborough will give Lee a silver mask for his consistent body of outstanding work Thursday at the arts organization's London headquarters. Lee is also expected to give an interview about his career to playwright and critic Bonnie Greer before the award ceremony.
Former child star Corey Feldman, who starred in '80s movies including Stand By Me, married his fiancée on the set of his new television series The Surreal Life, The Associated Press reports. Rabbi and rapper MC "U Can't Touch This" Hammer performed the ceremony. The WB network reality show follows the lives of has-been and never-quite-were celebrities living together under one roof including, among others, Webster star Emmanuel Lewis and The Facts of Life's Mindy Cohn.
Pop singer Justin Timberlake broke his foot while rehearsing a dance routine for Sunday's Smash Hits T4 Poll Winners Party, which he was set to co-host with Kelly Osbourne. According to MTV News, Timberlake has had to cancel two weeks of promotional events, but still plans on performing at the Billboard Music Awards on Dec. 9 in Las Vegas.
Maria Shriver, journalist and wife of actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, has obtained a restraining order against a man she claims is stalking her, Reuters reports. Shriver said the man has been calling for about a year, tried to get into the NBC TV news studio in Los Angeles where she works and claimed to have been married to her.
Veteran producer Marvin Mirisch, one of three filmmaking brothers behind '60s films, including The Apartment and West Side Story, died Nov. 17 at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, Reuters reports. He was 84. Marvin was regarded as the chief business mind among the brothers Mirisch. In the latter part of his career, he served as executive producer of the new Pink Panther cartoon series.
The Annie Awards, the animation industry's annual awards, have been rescheduled from their traditional November date to Feb. 1, the AP reports. The move puts the ceremony closer to the Academy Awards, positioning the Annies to become an award that potentially leads into the Oscars. Founded 30 years ago, the Annie Awards honor outstanding animation in television and film.
Rapper/actor Snoop Dogg has been added to the cast of Warner Bros.' big-screen version of the cult series Starsky and Hutch opposite Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. According to Variety, Dogg will play the role of Huggy Bear, the jive-talking hustler played on TV by Antonio Fargas. The film has been greenlit for a February start.
R&B singer Ashanti led the 30th annual American Music Award nominations Tuesday with five nods, with rappers Eminem and Nelly close behind with four nominations apiece. The Osbourne family will host this year's show, which will be telecast Jan. 13 on ABC.
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is auctioning off clues to the plot of her next book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. According to Reuters, Rowling has provided a teaser--93 random words on a card that is up for auction on Dec. 12 at Sotheby's in London. A sample of the literary trailer offered by Sotheby's includes these words: "Thirty-eight chapters…might change…Ron…broom…house elf…new teacher…dies."
Twentieth Century Fox Television has signed a deal with xXx director Rob Cohen valued in the mid-six-figure range. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the deal calls for Cohen to develop, executive produce, direct and possibly co-write a drama series targeted for fall 2003. Cohen is no stranger to TV, having directed Miami Vice, the 1980s action series about two undercover Miami police detectives. Twentieth TV president Dana Walden said of Cohen, "If you look at the work he's done on the feature side over the past five years, he is...an FBC (FOX Broadcasting Company) 'wish list' kind of director."
Liza Minnelli and husband David Gest, who recently adopted a three-year-old girl named Serena, plan to adopt three more children, Ananova.com reports. The couple will reveal their plans on tonight's edition of Liquid News on BBC Choice--from the dining room of their New York home. Minnelli and Gest will co-star in their own reality series titled Liza and David, set to air later this year on the VH1 music channel.
Hugh Grant will play adventurer Phileas Fogg with Jackie Chan as his eccentric butler in Twentieth Century Fox's remake of the 1956 adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days. According to the UK's The Sun, filming on the project is set to begin in January. The original starred David Niven.
The giant-screen release of Apollo 13 took in $183,090 in ticket sales from 18 IMAX venues across the United States and Canada from Friday through Sunday, Variety reports. With just a nine percent drop since its Sept. 20 opening weekend grosses, the film has already exceeded Universal Pictures' expectations for the IMAX format, which costs the studio about $2-3 million per film.
Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami, who was to have introduced his film Ten at the New York Film Festival Sunday, was forced to cancel his participation when he failed to obtain a visa. According to The Associated Press, the State Department said Iranians are subject to an extensive security review due to heightened security following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Kiarostami, whose film Taste of Cherry won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997, has been to the New York Film Festival twice and was the subject of a retrospective in 1996.
It's Big Brother, with celebs. The WB network is working on a new reality series titled The Surreal Life, in which TV cameras will follow the lives of has-been and never-quite-were celebrities living together under one roof. According to Variety, cast members include rapper turned preacher M.C. "U Can't Touch This" Hammer, Webster star Emmanuel Lewis, The Facts of Life's Mindy Cohn and Motley Crue's Vince Neil. The series, originally set to air this month, was pushed back to midseason so producers could cast it.
Freddie Prinze Jr., a nanny? That's right. Prinze will make an appearance on the NBC comedy Friends this season as a male nanny hired by Ross and Rachel for their new baby. The episode will most likely air during one of the "sweeps" months, which include November, February, May and July.
Jet Li's the one to take care of your kung fu needs.
The Hong Kong martial arts star will make more than $7.5 million for the starring role in "The One," a sci-fi-ish thriller where he plays a cop destined to fight his evil double from a parallel universe, Daily Variety says.
Li got the part after wrestling dude The Rock dropped out of the flick, which is slated to go into production in January.
'HAT' CASES: Variety also reports that Juliette Lewis and Gina Gershon will costar in the film noir comedy "Claire's Hat." The story chronicles the misadventures of a woman (Lewis) in a 24-hour period.
SYMPATHY FOR THE 'DEVIL': The Hollywood Reporter says that Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin will star in a contemporary reworking of "The Devil and Daniel Webster." The film will be Baldwin's directorial debut.
SEEING 'GHOSTS': Shannon Elizabeth, Tony Shalhoub, F. Murray Abraham and rapper Rah Digga are all in talks to join the cast of "13 Ghosts," the Reporter says. A remake of a 1960 horror flick, the story follows a family that has inherited a haunted mansion.