RoboCop reboot faces tough obstacles

Steve Tilley, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:34 AM ET

Hollywood has had a long love affair with remakes, but right now the romance seems especially torrid. And also oddly obsessed with the '80s, give or take a few years - on the heels of a reboot of Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall, we've got Red Dawn hitting theatres in November, a Short Circuit remake that no one asked for, a new take on Carrie and reboot of another Verhoeven classic, RoboCop.

(Interestingly, Toronto seems to be a remake hotbed. Total Recall was shot in the T-dot, Carrie is currently in production and RoboCop is slated to begin filming next month.)

Much like its cyborg hero, though, the 2013 version of RoboCop could face some tough obstacles. Reports suggest director Jose Padilha (The Elite Squad) is seeing many of his ideas for the remake shot down by higher-ups, and a leaked copy of the script has sparked a firestorm of fanboy rage online.

In the hopes it's not too late to be heard, here are five things we think a RoboCop reboot requires in order to be awesome.

Grim humour

It's a delicate balancing act to make something repulsive and funny at the same time, but that's original RoboCop director Paul Verhoeven's trademark. F'rinstance, watching the ED-209 security bot malfunction and shoot some poor executive to pieces was simultaneously horrifying and hilarious. The RoboCop reboot needs to root itself in this same mix of gasps and laughs.

An R rating

One of the (many) things that worked against the recent Total Recall remake was its PG-13 rating. The R-rated original didn't shy from violence or the occasional bit of titillation, but the remake felt slick yet toothless. For RoboCop, an R rating is even more crucial. This is a film about a guy getting literally blasted to pieces then rebuilt as a man-machine who shoots rapists in the junk. It ain't for the kiddies.

A vision of the future

The original RoboCop was eerily prescient in the swipes it took at corporate corruption, privatization of public services, advertising and so on. The RoboCop remake needs to look even further ahead and tell us how much worse it's all going to get. Covering the same ground as 1987's RoboCop will make it seem like it's set in the now, not in the day after tomorrow.

The ruins of Detroit

Given that RoboCop is shooting in Toronto, this may not come to pass. But we dearly hope director Padilha and company film at least some of the movie's exteriors in Detroit's almost post-apocalyptic urban ruins. Why build expensive sets showing how Old Detroit is decaying when the real thing is available, and would look amazing on camera?

Winks to the original

This is something HitFix.com editor Drew McWeeny took exception to in his blasting of the leaked RoboCop script: things like a focus group of criminals (itself a brilliant concept) saying the RoboCop 1.0 design looks like "a toy from the '80s," or a TV reporter remarking that Alex Murphy is "part man, part machine, all cop" - a reference to the original movie's tagline. These should be welcomed, not pooped on. In fact, if we don't get a "dead or alive, you're coming with me" there will be hell to pay.

 


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