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Blu-ray Review: RoboCop

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RoboCop is a movie with a bit of everything. Extreme violence, hilarious social satire, big business antics, political jabs, and science fiction at its finest make this one of Paul Verhoeven’s best.

The concept of a cyborg cop running through a city destroying bad guys would be enough for most movies. RoboCop is so much more than that. The character of RoboCop has some depth, played statically by Peter Weller, realizing slowly who he is (and was). He’s hardly a mindless killing machine.

The scathing looks at societal issues come from all angles. The hysterically funny commercials, especially one for a board game, are all too real. OCP, the corporation who not only creates RoboCop but actually owns the police (!) is filled with executives who care more about their bottom line than the employee who was shot to death in gruesome fashion right in their board room.

The absurdity here is what makes this so memorable. The violence is ridiculous, yet fits right into this grim, corporate controlled society. Detroit takes a thrashing, yet the entire thing seems completely plausible in the sense of RoboCop.

A superb performance from Kurtwood Smith as one of the lead villains paints him as a carefree homicidal maniac. It’s a perfect counter to the clean-cut RoboCop. A second robotic adversary, ED-209, is a classic movie creation. The stop motion is perfect, and integration with the actors is flawless. It’s a shame its screen time is brief.

As with nearly any Verhoeven affair, this one pulls no punches. Prior to the creation of RoboCop, Peter Weller is given a bullet-filled death unlike any other. The toxic waste death is utterly gruesome, and blood squibs are used en masse with every shooting. This is hardly one for the weak-hearted.

Writing credits go to Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner. Their script turns what would have been a campy, forgettable ‘80s action schlock into a memorable piece of science fiction and scathing satire of modern corporate business. It’s a shame the sequels wouldn’t follow this same path.

Beyond a few small moments of striking clarity, this is a dull HD master on Blu-ray. Compression artifacts are consistently evident, and a heavy layer of dirt or grain is visible. The print itself is clean without defects, though carries a hazy, soft tone. Colors seem faded when compared to the multiple DVD releases.

Remixed multiple times for its numerous home releases, MGM offers a DTS HD master for this Blu-ray edition. Subtle surround use is evident in a few non-action sequences (the club scene is a perfect example). When the action picks up, this remains mostly front loaded. Gunfire carries a weak, scratchy tone, and bass is muffled. For the age and source, it’s expected.

Looking at the cover, one would suspect the DVD features from the 20th anniversary DVD to carry over considering they use the same art. Not a chance as all Blu-ray fans get are some trailers. This is becoming a common, inexcusable oversight on these HD catalog titles.

The version of RoboCop included on Blu-ray is the infamous “X”-rated cut. Kenny, the poor sap who is mauled by ED-209, continues to take rounds to his chest even after he’s dead. Peter Weller’s death is filled with blood, and other moments of extreme violence remain intact as intended.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.