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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The Yahoo! heiress was awakened by firemen banging down the door to her home on Saturday (12Jun10), reports TMZ.com.
Reports suggest a house guest had left a flat iron on a bed, causing the mattress to burst into flames.
The socialite, who has hit headlines for romancing TV star Tila Tequila and late Johnson & Johnson heiress Casey Johnson, suffered through the weekend with vomiting, laboured breathing and severe headaches.
She was admitted to hospital on Monday (14Jun10), where she received oxygen. She has since been released by doctors.
Speaking exclusively to HollyScoop.com, Semel insists that, contrary to reports, the fire was no accident.
She says, "I'm concerned for my safety because I think it was intentionally done. There's an ongoing investigation."
The pint-sized pin-up claims she has stepped up to be the surrogate mother for her brother and sister-in-law, and that she is in the first stages of pregnancy.
On her Twitter.com page, she writes, "BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: I am going to become a SURROGATE MOTHER for my brother & his Wife!!!
"That is my xmas present to them. I'm pregnant!!!! THIS WIILL CHANGE HIS LIFE & MINE FOREVER!"
The strange announcement comes just weeks after she confirmed she was engaged to Casey Johnson, the heiress to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, via an internet video just hours after the pair fell for each other.
Johnson's ex lover, Courtenay Semel, later claimed the engagement ring her former partner proposed with was a fake and the same one Johnson gave to her earlier this year (09).
The internet pin-up stunned fans by announcing her engagement to the Johnson & Johnson heiress via video posting website Ustream.com on Wednesday morning (09Dec09).
While kissing Johnson, she told fans, "We have an announcement... This is exclusive and going to be all over the news tomorrow, but because I love you guys so much, we are giving you the exclusive first - Tila army fans - tonight, my girlfriend has asked me to marry her!"
But Johnson's ex lover, Courtenay Semel, claims the diamond band is second hand - insisting Johnson gave her the same ring while they were dating earlier this year (09).
Semel tells RadarOnline.com, "I can confirm that the engagement ring given to Tequila by Johnson was not purchased for her. It has previously been worn by me, a statement I can back up with photographic evidence."
And Semel states Tequila is in for another shock - the "17-carat diamond ring" is a fake. She adds, "It is absolutely not real and Casey is well aware. I would not expect Tila to be able to differentiate a real diamond from a fake one. Her ring is as real as her engagement!"
Film lobbyist Jack Valenti has died. He was 85.
The former presidential advisor passed away at his home in Washington, D.C., yesterday after suffering complications from a stroke last month.
Valenti, who has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, is widely credited for introducing the modern-day film ratings system to the industry and guiding Hollywood into the digital age.
His close friend director Steven Spielberg paid tribute to the star for his contribution to the film industry, praising him as a "giant voice of reason" and hailing him as "the greatest ambassador Hollywood has ever known."
Valenti served as an aide to former President Lyndon Johnson for three years from 1963, before beginning a career as a film industry chief with the help of movie moguls Lew Wasserman and Arthur Krim.
He is survived by his wife Mary, and their three children, Courtenay, John and Alexandra.
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Bobby Garfield (David Morse) returns to his small hometown to attend the funeral of his childhood friend and remembers the fateful summer in 1960 when his whole world changed. The story flashes back to when 11-year-old Bobby (Anton Yelchin) and his best friends Carol (Mika Boorem) and Sully-John (Will Rothhaar) capture the pure joy of youthfulness. When a mysterious stranger named Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins) moves upstairs and starts to pay attention to Bobby the boy suddenly realizes what's truly missing from his life--the love of a parent. Bobby's mother Liz (Hope Davis) is embittered by the death of Bobby's father and shows little compassion for her son's growing needs. Ted fills a void with the boy opening his eyes to the world around him and helps Bobby come to terms with his real feelings for Carol--and his mother. But Ted also has some deep dark secrets of his own and Bobby tries hard to stop danger from reaching the old man.
The performances make the film especially in the genuine camaraderie of the kids. Yelchin Boorem and Rothhaar never deliver a false move with an easiness that makes us believe we are simply watching three 11-year-old children grow up together. Yelchin in particular is able to get right to the heart of this young boy who misses his father and clings to the only adult who will listen. And his scenes with Boorem simply break your heart. (Davis) does an admirable job playing a part none too sympathetic. She manages to show a woman whose been beaten down but who does truly love her son in her own way. Morse too is one of those character actors you can plug in any movie and get a performance worth noting. In Hearts you want to see more of him. Of course the film shines brightest when Hopkins is on the screen. It may not be an Oscar-caliber performance but the actor is unparalleled in bringing a character to life--showing the subtleties of an old man looking for some peace in his life.
If you are expecting the Stephen King novel you may be disappointed. Screenwriter William Goldman and director Scott Hicks (Shine) deftly extracted the King formula of telling a story through a child's eye and explaining how the relationships formed as a child shaped the adult later. Hicks did an amazing job with his young actors especially Yelchin and Boorem. But where the novel continued into a supernatural theme explaining Brautigan's fear of being captured by "low men in yellow coats" (a reference to King's The Dark Tower series) the movie downplayed the mystical elements instead giving real explanations for Brautigan's man-on-the-run. That was the one problem with Hearts--we needed more danger. Introducing men from another dimension may not have been the way to go but had there been more tension the film would have resonated more especially when Bobby risked his own safety to save Ted.