RoboCop

RoboCop ★★★★★

Rewatching Robocop and attempting to assess it fairly puts me in a situation similar to when I rewatched Sid and Nancy. The major difference is that while Sid and Nancy was a hugely important film for me growing up, Robocop was more than just a film. Not only do I love this movie, but I have an emotional attachment to it that is unmatched by nearly everything else. I typically rewatch Robocop every year or so, and have always positioned it as my favorite action film. I grew up with this movie, even watching that godawful cartoon series. There are few films that have such a personal connection for me.

Thing is, when I became a huge movie snot and got all into important cinema, foreign films and auteur theory, Robocop still held up. If I were to sit here and pick it apart and try to convince myself that it doesn't belong in the same category as Seven Samurai and Grand Illusion, I'd be lying to myself because this film works for me on every possible level. It's clearly the work of a great filmmaker, with a fantastic script, multiple entertaining characters, a sharp satiric bent, and a touching character arc for Murphy. Dick Jones and ED-209 are memorable villains. Miguel Ferrer is hilarious as Bob Morton. Sure, Nancy Allen is merely sufficient as Officer Lewis, but that's one hell of a minor quibble when everything else here is done perfectly.

As for my personal tastes, my favorite horror genre is body horror, and that shows up in abundance here. The reconstruction of Murphy into Robocop via his POV is a brilliant piece of filmmaking, showing the viewer the last things Murphy sees in his life before blacking out and coming back to life as a cyborg, giving us the opportunity to see what it's like to transition from man into a machine. Then there's the disgusting melting man during the climax, allegedly inspired by The Toxic Avenger yet somehow more vile given his fate. I've stated how important humor is to me, and this film is hilarious, delivering both subtle and over-the-top gags that stay funny even after dozens of viewings.

Finally, Robocop is just plain fun to watch. The art of this movie isn't as readily apparent the first time around because you're too busy having a great time. Paul Verhoeven was able to distill the best elements of horror, comedy, dystopia, and the superhero genre to create something truly unique, but when you slow down and really take a look at this film, the art of it hits you in the face. It's just that, like Hitchcock at his best, all of the art in this film directly serves to move the plot forward. Nothing is superfluous, and even the blatant Jesus metaphor doesn't come off as corny as it could have. This is a perfect film.