12 Reasons Why Robocop Is A Work Of Cinematic Genius

Robocop = legend
Posted on: September 6th, 2013

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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 Poster

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.’


Cyborg Cat (courtesy of .icanhascheezburger.com)

My housemates weren’t cool with changing his name, so I made a few modifications.


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.


ED 209 Full Scale Model

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.


Sexy Female Robots

Do you really want to see Robocop get it on with these hussies? Yes?! You sick bastard.


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.


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Author Info

Alex Kazam is the Technical Director of Bad Haven. When not tinkering with the website code he's also a video editor and producer. He also dabbles in a bit of music and magic.

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  • Paul Coture

    Agree, its one of the best of the 80s, if not the last 30 years. I hadn’t realized it alluded to Murphy’s death before it happend, making OCP indeed an absolutely evil institution. Great stuff. Verhoeven is a master, and I am not looking forward to the ‘recreation” of this masterpiece.

  • Pingback: RoboCop: A movie worth remaking - Screen Robot

  • Akubas

    I think the best part of original Robocop is in the way it represents future metaphorically rather than the way it was stated. Personally, what I love about robocop is the commercial they slip in the movies. This commercial isn’t like in passing, in some scene this commercial is shown right there on screen. The commercial represent the metaphorical state of cyberpunk futures where violence is a norm. As matter of facts it is capitalized. People may not realize this, this is the most chilling aspect of future in Robocop.

    One of the commercial involving tasering your car robber to crisp and it is advertised as the most convenient way than the alternatives. They also had the green sun tan lotion which suppose to be extra powerful because in those times ozone layer has gone. Last but not least a family home game involving imagining nuking your family. Supposedly such game console exist as of right now. What do you think the reaction would be. As matter of facts every single of this commercial reflects the state of future numbness to violence more effective than the entire movies…

    Finally there is the question of what is Robocop. What is exactly Murphy. Was he a victim or is he a hero. The duality of this aspect is played well.

    I doubt any remakes would be able to emulate this features. The state of perpetual violence that beget more violence. The very fact that future world fear of the rising crime yet at the same time seems numb to the level of violence is satirical.

  • Guest

    The new film will be visually better but after seeing the trailer I think it’s already a bullshit film..They wanted to ‘reboot’ the original, ok great, so make a new and better story then. But come up with your own stuff FFS..I saw a suped up ED-209 and even the phrase “dead or alive, you’re coming with me” is just copied of the original. It seems the new version is just the old version but more PC, with the part where Bob wants to lose the arm and according to the trailer his arm is still there. And let’s see if the malfunctioning ED-209 prototype goes fully ballistic for well over 20 seconds also :D . I doubt it…

  • McGygas

    Its a shame “Robocop” doesnt appears on the IMDB`s Top 250, its my personal favorite sci-fi movie, tied with Terminator 2 of course

  • mm0504

    You’ve got it all right, i was a little kid when i first saw it, and i can’t stop watching it ’til today. I like very much the way the directives seem to be his principles, and again…as you said, It didn’t take a lot of words to summarize what you need to do to be a “good person – machine”. Thank you for this article. i enjoyed it very much

  • YourMessageHere

    I mostly agree with this, but:

    11: I can’t agree on the music. I just rewatched Robocop today after many, many years and I was really struck by how bad the music was – simplistic, cliched, incongruously martial for a film that (like a lot of Verhoeven) is doing a great job of using violence to shock us and make us hate it. Moreover, being more or less electronic in proportion to the events on-screen is Tron’s trick, and not original or particularly clever, especially since the electronic end of the spectrum isn’t very electronic at all. Compare it to, for example, They Live or anything else John Carpenter scored in that sort of era – much more electronic, much more effective in communicating an all-encompassing hostile presence controlling everything. I suppose music, more than anything, is a matter of taste though, and I won’t deny it’s aggravatingly catchy.

    8: This is something that really drives me mad. There’s no such thing as ‘the right length’. A film takes as long as it takes to tell the story – it might be 80 minutes, it might be 200. If it feels long, the problem isn’t the length, it’s that the film is boring or at least insufficiently captivating in some way. There’s many, many films out there which are longer than Robocop and equally worth every minute.

    6: That’s not funny. I don’t think it’s meant to be. The whole scene is about Robocop’s total lack of human empathy. He’s no more or less concerned about shooting the guy in the dick as he is about referring the woman to a rape crisis centre. Just carrying out his programming.

    Nice article, though.

  • Roxanne Marquez

    it isn’t really explicit, the backstory, but still referenced directly. OCP scientists could have saved his remaining arm, but Bob Morton tells the lady “Lose the arm.” Also, any film score composed by Basil Poledouris is an epic masterpiece, see also Conan the Barbarian and the Hunt for Red October.

  • Robocrop

    I”M MELTING!!!!!!!!!!

  • 4idy

    Good write up man, downloading now.

    I once seen a really badly censored version of Robocop on UTV when I was pretty young and they absolutely cut it to shit. There was no toxically deformed henchmen or anything, and they replaced words like “bullshit” with “baloney” lol.

    Seen the proper version when I was a bit older and nearly shit and came in my undercrackers simultaneously =)

    I love the way that Verhoven copped onto the propaganda via media thing long before anyone else did. A theme permeates other movies of his such as Starship Troopers… which is utterly shit… but sooo awesome =D

  • Gerard c

    The scene at the start with Murphy in heading to the changing room he says something like “Alot of us are getting moved from the suburbs to here” or something like that. Also have a feeling one of the executives say something about moving family guys as well before that, but can’t remember :( great article though, robocop is a masterpiece!
    Love the shot in the scrapyard at the end where the car is chasing Murphy and you can see down both alleys as the car comes up one alley and he goes down the opposite one… Fucking brilliant

    • http://www.facebook.com/alexkazam Alex Kazam

      Spot on Gerard – it’s when Murphy is talking to the cop in the locker room and then when Bob Morton says, “We’ve restructured the entire Police Department to place prime candidates according to risk factor.” A few quick lines that add a new level of evil to OCP.

      Thanks for the kind words, please share it to spread the greatness of Robocop! :)