During my time as a single man and going out on dates with women the topic of film inevitably arose; in particular favourite movies. As a bit a film connoisseur this becomes the make-or-break point because ultimately, if your favourites include Dirty Dancing, Pretty Woman or Titanic it’s just not going to work out between us. Unfortunately for me some of Northern Ireland’s finest ladies have a similar mindset to myself, and judge people on their choice of favourite film. I can read their minds as I’m talking to them.
“Wow, Alex is such an eligible bachelor. He’s super intelligent, witty, dashingly handsome and extremely modest. I wonder what sort of underground art house film is his favourite. It’s probably something European, black and white and very intellectual.”
The perplexed look on their faces when I reveal this to be my favourite film is pretty much the same every time:
Robocop is amazing. It’s so amazing I’ve co-written a song about it (Shameless plug – Spotify users can listen here).
I’ve watched it countless times, I’ve contemplated getting a tattoo of him and I’ve even lobbied to rename one of the pet cats in my house, ‘Robocat.’
As I’ve had to explain this choice to several women trying to make excuses to leave I’ve decided to compile the definitive list on why the story of a murdered policeman coming back to life is a work of cinematic genius. But first, a quick rundown of the main reasons why people THINK it sucks (even though they haven’t seen it).
- It has a silly title therefore it must be silly.
- They get it confused with the terrible sequels/tv show.
- They hold the faults of the sequels against the original.
- They don’t know any of the actors in it.
- They dismiss it as a straight up action film.
Note that this article assumes you have seen the film and understand the story, so SPOILERS lie ahead.
12. It Has Cool Robots In It.
When I was 10 years old this was the primary reason for watching most films.
11. Fantastic Music
A sign of a great film score, or any quality piece of music for that matter, is it’s ability to stick in your head long after you first hear it and not annoy you to the point of insanity. So many films have generic arrangements that blend into the background; music that is there because orchestral scores are now somewhat expected by the audience.
Robocop wins not only because the music is so catchy, but because it uses different tunes to help drive the story. The audience subconsciously knows what to feel as the various themes are played over emotionally relevant scenes. For example, the more well known Robocop March makes us want to punch the air as it signals a triumphant moment – the greatest of which is when the end credits roll. Another example would be the sombre piece that plays as he visits his family home, indicating a moment where he regains some humanity. It’s not by any means the first film to do this but it definitely does it well.
The composition of the music also reflects the tone of the scene. Greater use of synthesizers and electronic percussion is used in the more robotic points of the story, but strings and more traditional instruments highlight Murphy beginning to emerge from Robocop. You may wonder, ‘What’s the point? Only Robocop obsessed losers like yourself would notice that,’ but the fact that most people don’t notice IS the point. It’s a technique that subconsciously solidifies the storyline in the minds of the audience.
It’s like Derren Brown asking you to make a completely free interpretation of something but in actuality he has psychologically manipulated you to choose his own pre-determined outcome. The wanker.
10. The Special Effects are Great
Kids these days will tell you that the effects in 80s films suck. Once you’ve finished beating them for their stupidity you should inform them that the movies of the 1980s/early 90s were the last great special effects films. Back in those days, robots such as ED-209 were physically created in the real world in the form of full scale and stop motion models, not on some Hollywood geek’s computer. It’s hard to say the effects in Robocop look fake when they actually are real creations. The effects are also used as a means to drive the story, whereas a lot of CGI blockbusters structure their story around what can achieved with the computer graphics.
9. No Unnecessary Love Story
How many films have you seen that shoe-horn clichéd romantic interests into the picture to make you root for the protagonist? I don’t have an exact figure but I can tell you it’s in the BILLIONS. Robocop doesn’t need a love sub-plot, so it doesn’t have one. Lovely.
8. It’s the Right Length
Despite what Michael Bay may think, commercial Hollywood films don’t need to be bladder-achingly long all the time. Robocop’s 103 minutes is the perfect length to fully tell the story.
7. Quality Action Scenes
The director Paul Verhoeven is a master of what should be a simple task: choosing where to put the camera. So many directors in the past few years are going down the, ‘shakey-cam,’ route which involves strapping the camera to an epilictic and attaching a strobe-light to their face. In Robocop, as well as other Verhoeven action films, you can always tell what’s going on and where everyone in the scene is located. Also, a great deal of effort is made outside of the action scenes to make us care about the characters involved. When the action comes, it has a purpose and relevance to the story.
Tags: paul verhoeven, peter weller, retrospective, robocop