RoboCop ★★★★★

Browsing through my 2013 diary here on Letterboxd it became apparent the vast majority of films I watched last year were either current or recent releases. To remedy this I decided to expand my viewing habits a bit more in 2014 by catching up with a few more vintage offerings, whether they be first-time watches or long overdue rewatches.
So, to this end I decided to set myself a mini movie season each and every month throughout this year in an attempt to broaden my film watching schedule. This will take the form of about 5 or 6 films each calendar month linked by a certain theme - whether that be subject, star, director or suchlike. For February to coincide with the UK release of the new Robocop reboot on the 7th, this month's subject will be 1980's science-fiction. I will be compiling a list at the end of each month on this site detailing the subject chosen and the films watched, using the tag "monthly movie season".

First up this month just had to be the original 1987 Robocop. I remember seeing this at the cinema (The Ritz in Lincoln), back in the day......yes I'm that old, and being blown away by its hard-edged brutality and blackly comedic commentary on media manipulation and corporate corruption. Much of that satirical bite remains intact all these years later, it's fascinating now realising just how subversive a filmmaker Paul Verhoeven was at his peak, lacing what is essentially a mainstream action film with barbed criticism and seething political parody. It's very much an outsider's view of America, a cartoonish caricature of a near-future totalitarian society teetering on the very brink of the outright fascism which embodied Starship Troopers. Then there's the violence - a graphic X-rated catalogue of hardcore splatter and sadism which seems so far removed from today's sanitised 12A rated multiplex offerings, that it shocks and saddens in equal measure.
Yes, some of the fashions now look terribly dated - Detroit's meanest hoodlums look more like a Village People tribute act, and a lot of the stop-motion effects work appears incredibly crude and clunky by modern standards. Yet the core themes, invention, impact and underlying anarchy of Verhoeven's bleak futuristic mantra remain powerfully intact and as disturbingly relevant as ever. Robocop remains a bona-fide classic, untainted by its sequels & TV spin-offs, including Irvin Kershner's dumbed-down but deliriously fun follow-up Robocop 2, which actually increases the comic-book violence and lunatic lawlessness, and Fred Dekker's shockingly woeful Robocop 3 which somehow diluted Verhoeven's hellish vision of crime and chaos into a moronic child-friendly toy commercial, and essentially ended the promising career of the director of 80's classics Night Of The Creeps and The Monster Squad in the process.

John (Magic Rat Movies) liked these reviews