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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P. Diddy says he's being fleeced in child support
Sean "P. Diddy" Combs thinks he is being fleeced by the mother of his 10-year-old son and is hurt by her demands to increase his child support payments, which currently stand at $35,000 per month. "We've had a great relationship, and then all of the sudden I got hit with a lawsuit for more money," Combs told The Associated Press Thursday. Combs is currently appealing the $35,000 per month ruling brought on by Misa Hylton-Brim, a fashion stylist for Lil' Kim and other stars. "My son goes to the best schools, he has full-time tutors," the mogul said. "I wouldn't know what else to do to give my son." Combs claims Hylton-Brim wants more money because she's in the process of getting a divorce from her husband, with whom she has children. "It's not about child support, it's about adult support," he said. "I love the mother of my first child. I would never want to do anything to hurt her, but I have to defend the kind of father that I am." Combs, who also pays roughly the same amount in child support payments to model Kim Porter, the mother of his second child, Christian, added: "The fact is that the mother of my first child gets more money than the mother of my second child." Combs and Porter are currently together. But Combs said he had no bad feelings towards Hylton-Brim. "I'm always going to respect her for being the mother of my child … but at the same time, that don't mean she has to be right."
Disney chief Michael Eisner to step down in 2006
Disney chief Michael Eisner plans to step down when his contract expires in September 2006, Reuters reports. Eisner, who headed the Burbank, California-based company for two decades, told the board of his decision in a letter dated Sept. 9, released by Disney on Friday. Eisner became Disney's chief executive in 1984 and presided over one of the world's best-known brands, whose businesses range from theme parks to films to the ABC television network. But in April, the 62-year-old Eisner just narrowly survived an attempt led by dissident shareholders Stanley Gold and Roy Disney, a nephew of founder Walt Disney, to oust him from his post at Disney. Eisner was subsequently stripped of his role as Disney chairman.
Gwyneth Paltrow to take time off
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Naomi Campbell discusses drug addiction
Supermodel Naomi Campbell, who won a legal battle against the Daily Mirror tabloid over revelations about her drug addiction, will talk about her battle with drugs in an interview with British talk show host Michael Parkinson, Reuters reports. According to excerpts from the show released Friday, Campbell admitted to doing cocaine. "No one forced me to do it. I did it because I wanted to. I don't have any blame for anyone but myself," Campbell, 34, said. "I go to (rehabilitation) meetings in every country I'm in. When you stop drugs, you have to stop everything."
Theron's injury could have been worse
Charlize Theron's recent injury on the Berlin set of Aeon Flux could have been much worse. The actress' boyfriend, actor Stuart Townsend, told AP Radio that Theron was doing a back-flip somersault while wearing platform shoes when she slipped and hurt her neck. "The slipped disc went almost into the spinal cord," he explained. "She's fine, but could've been in a lot of trouble." Townsend says he expects Theron, 29, to be laid up for six weeks. When asked why she was performing the stunt, Townsend replied: "She's just that kind of girl. She's like, 'Yeah, I'll do anything.' But I said, 'The stunt girl is going to start working and not you.'"
Kanye West leads Source noms
Rapper-producer Kanye West received a leading seven Source Hip-Hop Music Awards nominations Thursday, including nods for best album, video, lyricist and producer of the year, the AP reports. Ludacris followed close behind with six nods. The rapper will battle for male artist of the year against Jay-Z, Lil Flip, Twista and Juvenile. Youngbloodz, Ying Yang Twins, 8Ball and MJG, Westside Connection and OutKast, meanwhile, will compete for group of the year. The Source Awards, which will be handed in out in Miami Oct. 10, and will air on BET Nov. 30.
Legendary Disney animator Frank Thomas dies
Frank Thomas, one of Disney Studios' pioneering animators whose credits include Pinocchio, Bambi, Peter Pan and 101 Dalmatians, died yesterday at his home in Flintridge, Calif., the AP reports. He was 92. Thomas had been in declining health following a cerebral hemorrhage earlier this year, according to the studio. Thomas was a member of Walt Disney's elite "Nine Old Men," who worked on many classic shorts and features during a career that spanned more than four decades. He was born in Santa Monica, Calif., and went to college at Stanford University, where he met his lifelong friend and another of the "nine old men," Ollie Johnston--the last of those original animators still alive. Thomas is survived by his wife of 58 years, Jeanette, their children and grandchildren.