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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Welcome to a New Year and a New You, Dr. Mindy Lahiri! Sure, 2012 ended up being a bit of a loss there at the end — what with your boss leaving out of the blue, getting into a fight with your best friend, and finding out your boyfriend is actually someone else's boyfriend and you were merely his mistress — but optimism breeds positive results, right? So here's to 2013 and your new outlook on life!
The only problem is, Mindy's new outlook is decidedly... un-optimistic. She's barely leaving her apartment and has buried herself in her work. Her best friends are hanging out without her! That's when you know s**t is lookin' bleak for our poor Mindy. She needs something to take her mind off the old man suits, murderers on the subway, and all the terrible maladies of the soul that plague this modern human existence. Sigh.
Lucky for Mindy, a distraction has arrived. Meet Rishi — the burglar-esque little brother of Dr. Lahiri (though he prefers brown Channing Tatum)! You may recognize Rishi as Utkarsh Ambudkar, who shared the screen with Gwen (Anna Camp) in 2012's Pitch Perfect. They're keeping it in the family; in all of the families, you guys! But Rishi wants to turn his mini-stay away from Stanford into a full-blown rap career. Oh, no! Screams every older sister in the world. Mistakes ahead! Steer clear! Oh no, here comes the stress-vomit! Thankfully, a casual encounter with Brendan (Mark Duplass) the midwife turns into Mindy lying on a table getting stoned. And by that I mean he is putting stones on her person. Nothing illegal to see here, folks!
Only there's everything to see here, because chemistry abounds between Dr. Lahiri and the midwife! Something tells me Danny Castellano isn't going to like this. In the briefest of moments (it should've lasted at least 22 minutes) Chris Messina and Mark Duplass shared the screen, and everything was beautiful and nothing hurt. I plan on getting a screengrab of the elevator scene and replacing Mindy's face with my own. Sweet dreams!
Lessons were learned, resolutions were made, and a chance for romantic comedy splendor was born. Just another day in Mindy Kaling's New York City. Here are the valuable dating dos and don'ts we gleaned this week:
1.) Do put your mistakes behind you: It's a new year! Wipe the dry erase board of life clean, my friends.
2.) Don't be afraid to chat up a new guy: You're a modern woman! But also be careful of the knives they carry in their pants. And no, that's not a euphemism (but be careful of that, too! Safety first!).
3.) Do get a new look: Makeovers are classic! Try a little Annie Hall. Or Grandpa Hall if you're in a bind.
4.) Don't be afraid to get in shape!: You never know when you might have to run through an airport terminal after the man of your dreams before he boards the last plane to a faraway land that will keep you apart indefinitely if you don't admit your true feelings to him right now. It's also good for outrunning muggers.
5.) Don't live in fear: Whether it's fear of being a cat lady, fear of other people, or fear of the world outside your four walls: fear is bad. It keeps love at bay!
6.) Don't ever apologize for what you're passionate about in life: People do not understand the serious amount of Mockinjay points you get with those Hunger Games personal checks!
7.) Do make nerdy math jokes: Not to go on a tangent, but math jokes are a sine of intelligence! (I'll be here all night, folks!)
8.) Do not bail your own mugger out of jail: This just sounds dangerous.
9.) Do splurge on an expensive perfume: Pick something classic: like a Chanel, Dior, or Fa-breezey (it's Italian)!
10.) Don't trick the elderly: It's not very nice. Respect your elders!
11.) Don't ever forget: family comes first: Especially when your little brother is Nice Cube.
What did you think of this week's episode? Did you know Girls' Allison Williams (yay Marnie!) is on next week? Talk about it in the comments!
[Photo Credit: FOX]
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There have been many ostentatious interpretations of The Iliad but Troy roots itself in reality instead of trying to tackle both the epic story and all the mythological hullabaloo. As it goes the ancient Greek King Agamemnon (Brian Cox) builds his vast empire by conquering one country after another with the help of the warrior Achilles (Brad Pitt). Yet Achilles holds no allegiance to Agamemnon or any king for that matter fighting only so that he will be remembered as the greatest warrior of all time while also agonizing over the death and mayhem he causes. Agamemnon rankles at Achilles' insolence but soon has other fish to fry. Seems Agamemnon's brother Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson) King of Sparta has had his pride wounded when his lovely wife Helen (Diane Kruger) is spirited away to the great city of Troy by its lovesick prince Paris (Orlando Bloom) who fell for the queen when he was visiting Sparta on a peace mission. The scandalous act creates a chain reaction--unleashing the cuckolded Menelaus' need for retribution Agamemnon's greedy desire to take Troy as his own and Achilles' pursuit of ultimate glory. But Troy's impenetrable walls have been fiercely protected by the Trojan warriors especially the powerful Prince Hector (Eric Bana) for decades--and they are not about to lay down arms now even for as fearsome a foe as Achilles. Let the games of war begin.
The men of Troy have it in spades--flowing hair rippling muscles and dripping testosterone aplenty. As for the main eye candy it's a given Pitt is going to look like a god as the formidable Achilles--but the fact the Greek warrior is tormented as well suits the actor perfectly (remember Legends of the Fall? Who can't?). Pitt handles the pitiful tortured moments better than most as poor Achilles with his six-pack abs struggles with his questionable ethics and actions as well as his place in the world. Troy's other hunk the warrior Hector complements his nemesis Achilles nicely. Played by Aussie actor Bana who audiences might recognize as The Hulk (well the smaller-sized more human version of the big green guy anyway) Hector is just as full of bravado as Achilles yet has a very grounded sense of honor and duty to his country as well as love for his wife Andromache (the billowy Saffron Burrows). Counteracting them both is the infatuated Paris portrayed effectively by heartthrob Bloom who has the unenviable task of being the coward surrounded by heroes. Luckily Paris redeems himself a bit in the end--and we get a brief reminder of Bloom's Lord of the Rings alter-elf Legolas. The veteran actors hold their own among the sweaty he-men including Cox as the megalomaniac Agamemnon and Peter O'Toole as Paris' and Hector's misguided father King Priam who should have listened more closely to his sons. Troy's women do not fare as well however especially German model Kruger as Helen. While certainly beautiful enough to play the part she is relegated to mostly standing around watching the men fight over her without getting the chance to show any of Helen's spunk. Australian ingénue Rose Byrne gets the most to work with as the virginal Troy priestess Briseis who is at first a captive but then seems to be the only one who can calm Achilles down. Lucky girl.
Dubbed possibly one of the most expensive movies ever made (the budget reportedly hit about $200 million) Troy's set was plagued with costly crises: Endless production delays tortuous heat in Malta and Mexico hurricanes wiping out sets and the star actually injuring his Achilles tendon (no joke). Yet for all the film's troubles director Wolfgang Petersen (The Perfect Storm) never lets you see it onscreen. Petersen builds the tension heightens the calm before the storm and then deftly brings one of the most legendary wars of all time up close and personal with each of Troy's battle sequences meticulously done--from the all-out beach battle as the Greeks bring their ships to shore to the massive army charge on the walls of Troy to the best of them all--a tragic and an inevitable mano á mano confrontation between Hector and Achilles. If there's any drawback it's the lag time between the battle scenes as the men walk around preparing for battle talk about how to prepare for the battle spend time with their wives/lovers before the battle pray to the gods to help them win the battle and so on. It's unavoidable in a movie like this but much like The Lord of the Rings at least Troy's story comes from a classic source.