The Robocop reboot was one of the few acts of lazy plagiarism that I wasn’t really bothered by, and was in fact looking forward to.
“WHAAAT?!” I hear some cry. “You can’t mess with a classic!”
To them I ask: Have you watched the original recently?
Unlike, say, Ghostbusters (1984), the original Robocop has not aged well, mostly because it was a satire and satirical comedy/comedy based on popular culture tends to date very quickly.
Also, because of the limitations of special effects at the time: Peter Weller now looks decidedly goofy clomping around “future” Detroit in that clunky costume. I’ve no idea how restrictive it was, but I’ve a sneaking suspicion that he took the Anthony Daniels approach to playing a robot and made a point of moving like the Tin Man in a monsoon.
The reboot has ditched the satirical slant of the original and become a character-based drama. Those hoping for a repeat of the ‘87 squib-fest will be disappointed. The new Robocop tale has more in common with Frankenstein, and dwells on Alex Murphy and his family struggling to come to terms with what he has become. There is little in the way of comical edge, Omnicorp/OCP seem less diabolical, Lewis has had a sex change and nobody melts.
Single Dollar transactions, however, are referenced.
You can’t really ask the question “Is it better than the original?” because they’re two different films that tell very different stories. One makes fun of consumerism and vast corporations, while the other is a cautionary tale of drone-based warfare. The only similarities are the title and the fact the main character is a cyborg.
Is the original good? Yes. Paul Verhoeven is a f**king genius. Robocop (1987), Total Recall (1990) and Starship Troopers (1997) are all among my favourite movies.
Is the remake good? Yes. It tells a solid story, sets in place a foundation that can realistically be built upon and doesn’t sully any fond (blood-soaked) memories. It genuinely reinvigorates the franchise rather than cheaply strip mining it for quick cash.
There is no reason why you cannot watch and enjoy both.
Peter Weller was the original Robocop. He recently starred in Star Trek: Into Darkness.....sans box.