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 global success of the Pirates of the Caribbean sequel has been tainted by a Hollywood screenwriter, who claims the whole idea for the franchise was his.
The megahit, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, smashed box office records in eight territories--including America and the U.K.--over the weekend, but writer Royce Mathew is keen to halt the celebrations.
He claims he created "drawings" and a "screenplay" for a project he called Supernatural Pirate Movie--and now he fears his ideas have been turned into a Disney blockbuster.
Royce states he even called the pirate ship in his film treatment the Black Pearl--the same name used for Johnny Depp's craft, and the subtitle for the original film.
And he also created a lead characters called Will Turner--the same name as Orlando Bloom's swashbuckler in the Disney films--and Elizabeth--the Christian name of Keira Knightley's character.
The screenwriter insists he registered the drawings and his screenplay with the U.S. Copyright Office, and is now suing the The Walt Disney Company, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Touchstone Home Video and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, claiming movie bosses used his ideas as a blueprint for the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
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A California Superior Court judge ruled on Monday that neither heavy metal band Slayer nor the music industry can be held liable in the 1995 murder of a 15-year-old girl by three teenage boys, Billboard magazine reports. The ruling stated that there was insufficient proof that the band's music influenced teenagers Jacob Delashmutt, Joseph Fiorella, and Royce Casey to rape and murder Elyse Pahler on July 22. In their defense, the boys claimed that Slayer's lyrics had instructed them to stalk and kill Pahler as "a virgin sacrifice to Satan."
Tyler falls ill, but plans to extend tour
After embarking on their Just Push Play tour in June and playing at Washington D.C.'s United We Stand--What More Can I Give benefit concert on Oct. 21, Aerosmith has been touring pretty much nonstop. Excessive touring is what may have caused front man Steven Tyler to suffer from a temporary breakdown last weekend that forced the band to scrap two shows from their tour. According to SonicNet.com, shows in Pittsburgh at the Mellon Arena on Saturday and one at the Air Canada Centre on Monday were canceled. No word yet as to when the shows will be rescheduled in the future. Although their Just Push Play tour doesn't end until Dec. 17, the band's publicist told SonicNet.com that the band is hoping to extend the tour through the end of January.
Billy Corgan returns with "Zwan"
After playing a tearful final show at Chicago's Metro theatre last Dec. 2, the former vocalist for the Chicago-based rock group, Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Corgan, will return to the music business with a new band, Zwan. According to Reuters, Zwan will reunite Corgan with former Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, former Chavez' singer/guitarist Mathew Sweeney and a bass player who goes by the name of "Skullfisher." Corgan seems to be staging a low profile return; Zwan will play small venues in Los Angeles and San Diego later this month, the concert hotwire site, Pollstar, reports.
Courtney Love: Unplugged in the restroom
Courtney Love must really want to get back into the music business. The rocker was forced to finish her set early at her Oct. 26 opening gig for Jane's Addiction because of a strict Hollywood Bowl house curfew established under local noise ordinances, Tas Steiner, Love's publicist, told Reuters on Monday. The gig was arranged to give the unnamed label executive a chance to hear Love, who was backed by a new band, play songs the audience never got to see her perform. "Courtney was disappointed," Steiner said. "She only got to do two of the four new songs that she was planning on singing. She ended up taking an acoustic guitar with her band into a restroom offstage and singing a few songs for a major label president." Love has added those four songs to a demo tape that she's been shopping to record labels while she presses on with her lawsuit against Universal Music Group to end her current recording contract.
Stone Temple Pilots record single for charity
The Stone Temple Pilots have recorded a studio version of the Beatles' "Revolution" and will donate proceeds from the single's Nov. 27 release to the Twin Towers Fund, which provides relief to families affected by the Sept. 11 attacks, the band's official Web site reports. The group first performed the track at TNT's John Lennon Tribute on Oct. 2.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, AC/DC, NIN to release live DVDs
The Red Hot Chili Peppers will release a 70-minute concert DVD/ VHS titled Off the Map on Dec. 4. According to a Warner Brothers press release, the show will feature 18 songs captured in Portland, Ore., in September 2000, featuring the hit singles "Californication," "Under the Bridge" and "Give It Away."
Also on Oct.4, AC/DC will release their Stiff Upper Lip Live (VHS/DVD), capturing a recent 21-song concert and including an extra 140 minutes of special features, Billboard.com reports.
Nine Inch Nails has postponed the scheduled Dec. 4 release of their Nine Inch Nails Live: And All That Could Have Been release on CD, DVD and VHS until Jan. 22 of next year. Vocalist Trent Reznor told Launch.com that the delay was due to production snags in the DVD mastering process. "We edited the film, mini-DV ourselves and learned how to mix in sound and set the studio up in surround. I think it has a home-made quality to it that's interesting that we wouldn't have gotten if we went to a film company just to do it," he said. The collection was filmed on NIN's last tour, Fragility v2.0 and features songs like "The Wretched," "Head Like a Hole" and "Closer."