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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Demons, werewolves, and rogue shadowhunters, oh my! The newest trailer for The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones just hit the web, and while the extended footage does give fans more plot details than the first grand look — including our first glimpse of Lena Headey's mother-with-a-dark-past Jocelyn Fray! — it is starting to feel a lot more like the YA novel adaptation that it is.
The first installment in Cassandra Clare's bestselling fantasy series tackles a world hidden from "mundane" human perception, and when New York teen Clary Fray (Lily Collins) starts to see things others can't after her mother goes missing, her world is turned upside down. She is thrust into the world of shadowhunters, a.k.a. demon hunters, and discovers her family's dark past and her mysterious connection to the rogue shadowhunter villain Valentine (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Along the way, she meets bad boy shadowhunter Jace Wayland (Jamie Campbell Bower), and twins Alec (Kevin Zegers) and Isabelle Lightwood (Jemima West), with her mortal best friend Simon (Robert Sheehan) dragged along for the ride.
RELATED: 'The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones' Trailer #1
While the first trailer released four months ago had an epic feel, this new clip focuses more on the budding (and quite... unique) relationship between Clary and Jace — and the resulting animosity Alec feels for Clary — giving it a much more tweeny, young adult feel. But the upside to the new footage is that it seems like it will stay true to the book, right down to the climactic battle at the end. Check out the trailer below:
What do you think of the newest trailer? Are you excited to see Clary, Jace, Simon, and the Lightwoods battle the evil Valentine? Let us know in the comments!
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones hits theaters August 23, 2013.
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[Photo Credit: Screen Gems]
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