Apparently there's a new sub-sub-sub-genre in film: remakes of Paul Verhoeven sci-fi movies that turn out to be infinitely inferior to the originals.
First came 2012's Total Recall, a remake of Verhoeven's trippy, cheeseball and awesome 1990 movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Except the new movie, with Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale, was neither trippy nor awesome. Occasionally cheesy, but I'm not sure that was intentional.
And now, RoboCop. Like 2012's Total Recall, the new RoboCop, coming to theatres next year, is based on a cult classic Verhoeven movie. Like Total Recall, it was shot in Toronto. And like Total Recall, it looks like it's going to be a dagger in the heart of fans of the original movie. At least, based on the recently released trailer.
Yep, that's right: I'm judging a movie by its trailer alone. You know why I'm doing that? Because Hollywood allows me to.
The film studio marketing machine has decided that we, the slack-jawed audience, can no longer be trusted to see a movie without having every major plot point and action scene revealed ahead of time in the trailer. Usually, it's infuriating. In this case, maybe it's a blessing.
Verhoeven's original RoboCop was violent, satirical, shocking, funny and yeah, sometimes pretty cheesy, even for 1987. But it had a message and a vision and a tone that was unlike anything else at the time.
Will the new RoboCop comment on the excesses of consumer culture, on our overreliance on technology, on the pervasive surveillance by the government and police state? I hope it explores some of those themes. I also hope it makes use of its killer cast, including Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson.
But my hopes are not high. Not at all. And man, the trailer fills me with nothing but despair. I don't see the satire that made the original RoboCop so unique (and which Verhoeven employed to equal effect in Starship Troopers, another of his movies in the process of being remade, unless saner heads have prevailed since it was announced last year.)
Instead, I see a generic, formulaic, one-against-many action flick, with a guy who looks like the lovechild of Batman and Iron Man as adopted and raised by Tron. Oh, and did I mention it's going to have a PG-13 rating? I won't buy that for a dollar.
Instead of making craptendous reboots of movies that were a product of their own times, why can't we recognize that these things are pop culture artifacts and just leave them alone? Instead of remaking RoboCop, why can't we have a sequel to the underappreciated Dredd, which didn't sacrifice its grit or gore or faithfulness to the source material in the name of pandering to a wider audience?
I hope the new RoboCop surprises me. I really do. But I feel like Hollywood is holding a gun on the sci-fi nostalgia of my youth. And dead or alive, it's coming with them.
12 Years of Oscar buzz
There was many a notable film at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, but director Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, is topping the lists of early Oscar contenders. It opens in October.
Halftime show goes to Mars
Grammy-winning singer Bruno Mars has confirmed he'll be the halftime show headliner for the XLVIII Super Bowl in February. He's no Beyonce, but he's also no Black Eyed Peas. Not a bad choice.
He'll be back, again
Apparently there is no sci-fi franchise that Hollywood won't reboot, and thus the next Terminator film, directed by Thor: The Dark World's Alan Taylor, will reportedly begin the robot apocalypse anew.
Virtual vehicle vandalism
Grand Theft Auto V, possibly the most anticipated video game of the decade so far, lands in stores this week. Watch for a sudden spike in employee absenteeism.
No porta-potties required
The seventh annual iTunes Festival continues all this month, and if you can't be in London to see the likes of Lady Gaga and the Pixies live, you can stream the shows via a free app on your iPhone, iPad or Apple TV.
He's no Michael Scott
Ricky Gervais shows his vulnerable side in Derek, a UK series about a childlike worker in an old folks' home, which makes its North American debut on Netflix this week.
The Toronto International Film Festival has wrapped for another year, leaving high hopes for a bevy of movies that made a big splash at the fest, including Gravity, Can a Song Save Your Life, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, The F-Word and more.
Cold terror ends
The first season of NBC's mock reality series Siberia, kind of a blend of Survivor and Lost, comes to an end this week. The show, shot in the Siberia-like wilds of Manitoba, was surprisingly decent.
Goodnight, for now
As Season 2 of The Newsroom signs off, fans of Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) and company need not fret - HBO has already given the green light for a third season of the divisive cable news drama.