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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It's time for an encore! Although Smash was not a smash hit on NBC, another network is ready to embrace all the campy, Broadway goodness. Ovation has snagged the rights to air the previously-cancelled musical-drama giving new fans a chance to fall in love with the show's dynamic duo Ivy Lynn (Meghan Hilty) and Karen Cartwright (Katherine McPhee).
According to Entertainment Weekly, Ovation's Chief Creative Officer, Robert Weiss is thrilled that Smash will join their lineup. "Smash is exactly the kind of art-centric programming that Ovation's viewers crave. This high-quality series fits in brilliantly with our efforts to showcase the powerful role that the Arts play in our lives. Ovation is thrilled to satisfy the wishes of diehard Smash fans and followers to keep the series alive, as well as to provide viewers, who are new to the series, an opportunity to experience the incredible talent, music, dancing, drama and excitement."
Although NBC dimmed the lights on Broadway for this series, at least fans of the show will have the chance to relive the sparkling drama beginning July 19 at 8 PM. Tune in every Friday to watch the Season 1 drama with Karen and Ivy's quest for the spotlight as Marilyn in "Bombshell" and Season 2 will premiere later this fall.
Follow Cori on Twitter @gimmegimmeCORFollow Hollywood.com on Twitter @Hollywood_com More:'Smash' Reunion: Meghan Hilty Teams Up With Sean Hayes on NBC ComedyNBC (Finally) Cancels 'Smash' NBC Cancels 'The New Normal,' Picks Up 3 New Series
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Although Smash tanked at the end of its two-season run, NBC isn't fully ready to dim the lights for the show's immensely talented actors. Megan Hilty has snagged a role alongside her fellow Smash co-star Sean Hayes on NBC's upcoming fall comedy Sean Saves The World.
Emmy-Winner Sean Hayes appeared briefly in Smash's second season as Terry Falls, the whimsical yet self-conscious actor, who starred in a play alongside Hilty's character Ivy Lynn. But now, it's Hilty's turn to tag along on Hayes' show. The blonde bombshell will replace Lindsay Sloane on the new fall comeday as Sean's BFF and colleague, Liz, according to TV Line.
Sean Saves The World is a comedy about a single dad tackling parenting with not the best luck. Sean, who is a recently-divorced gay father, juggles caring for his witty daughter and attending to his time-consuming job at the demands of his zany boss. Fingers crossed the powers-that-be at NBC will throw a few musical numbers into the upcoming comedy just for fun.
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