Sunday, March 9, 2014

RoboConvo - Part 3

Once upon a time, Magnetic Monkey (MM) and Elephant Robot (ER) went to a theater and watched RoboCop.  Then they talked about it.  A lot, in fact.  What follows is Part 3 of that conversation.

ER:  Let's jump back to a really basic question we skipped over.  Did you enjoy the movie?

MM:  I did enjoy the movie.  I didn't think the third act gave me what I wanted, because there wasn't a central villain.  The original movie has a stronger third act, because it's him getting revenge on the guys who killed him.  There's two layers of it.  There's the gang boss who kills him.

ER:  The dad from That 70's Show!

MM:  Yes.  And then there's the gang boss' boss.  In the remake, he kills the gang boss in Act 2, so that's diffused before the climax.  In the remake, there's a disconnect between the Michael Keaton character and the movie feeling buttoned up.

ER:  Because he's not going after him for making him RoboCop, but because he tried to kill him 15 minutes earlier.

MM:  Right.

ER:  This takes us back to some of the conscious changes Jose Padilha made with the tone.  One of the things he wanted was for the robots to be functional.  In the original there's that joke where he can't go up the stairs, and they just don't work well.  And in the original movie, the reason they want to put a man in the machine is to make the machine work better.  It's a practical reason.  So that's something in updating it, he said "No, no - the machines work, and they work just dandy."

MM:  Probably in those exact words.

ER:  That's right.  The other choice is that Murphy maintains his personality.

MM:  He never dies.

ER:  Yes.  Which really allows a horror element that's not present in the original movie.  I mean, there's that scene where they are building him up, and the Miguel Ferrera character tells them to cut off his arm, but we're not getting the sense of a man being amputated, as much as a vague consciousness being born.

So those two changes, and the structure of the original movie, the original movie pulls very much from Isaac Asimov.

MM:  Robotic laws.

ER:  Yes.  And Murphy is trying to rewire these basic commandments.  And at the end of the film, the climax is that he finds a Clintonian way around them.  The baddie gets fired, so he can shoot him.

In this new movie, I think they struggled with their final button moment.  And instead of coming up with something new, they tried to make that moment fit in with the red wrist band things.

MM:  Which, weren't you expecting somebody's hand to get ripped off at some point?

ER:  Definitely.  That gun never fired.

MM:  I agree with that.  And I think that the movie wanted to condemn Keaton's character for stealing Keaton's humanity.  He's the one who didn't let him just die, but insisted he be reborn this way.  But Gary Oldman's character is complicit in making that happen, and he's the one that actually does it.  And there's no sense of critique in the film for Oldman's character.  He addresses that he thinks he made a mistake and went too far, but the movie doesn't condemn him for it.

ER:  Yeah... and do they say Murphy is paralyzed from the neck down or the waist down?

MM:  Waist.

ER:  Aha.  So that's something that's never addressed in this movie.  Why he had to lose his torso and that one working arm.

MM:  I just found it interesting that the movie had no criticism for Gary Oldman's character.  I mean, ultimately Michael Keaton chose to pull the plug on him.  But that's what Murphy wanted in the first place, he wanted to be able to die.  And Oldman actually monkeyed with Murphy's brain.  He actually turned him into a slave to programming.

ER:  Well, hopefully our readers have become a slave to this series.

MM:  Hopefully.

ER:  Come back tomorrow for the next installment.  Your programming requires it.

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