The new Robocop movie delivers a different set of goods than I expected it to. I was expecting a cyborg action movie in the spirit of the original, with a slightly more sophisticated bit of social commentary. What I got was a strong drama about being human, set against some heavy-handed political commentary, with some really lame action scenes mixing things up a bit.
I guess my own expectations regarding robotics unfairly colored my opinion of the robot soldiers and the cyborg cop. After seeing quadcopters fly in formation, I expect a robot soldier to fire its weapons in discriminating, super-accurate bursts rather than lead-washing the landscape while the target bobs and weaves out of the way. That part was pretty disappointing.
But Robocop the man, the husband and father, he was tragically beautiful. His relationships were a blend of cautionary tale and human triumph, and this was sold in no small part by a supporting cast of A-listers -- Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, and especially Gary Oldman -- along with some lesser-known names who stood up just fine in that august company.
There was a bit of scenery chewing from Jackson and Oldman, but not so much that it detracted from the show. The disappointing parts of the movie were the parts that I actually came to see -- Robocop running around being a super-powered police officer. He felt sloppy and clumsy. But I cared about what happened to the characters, which is an unusual state of mind for me as I sit through a February-release action movie.
Robocop currently sits at #3 for me this year, squarely in the middle. It comes nowhere near the Threshold of Awesome, and in spite of the disappointing action scenes, it clears the Threshold of Disappointment on the strength of the drama.