- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 12, 2014

A famed cyborg police officer returned to movie theaters earlier this year to eradicate crime in the Motor City.

His adventure, “RoboCop” (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Rated PG-13, $39.99), arrives in the Blu-ray format to once again remind viewers that Hollywood does not need to remake every film in the history of cinema.

Director Paul (“Total Recall”) Verhoeven’s original 1987 “RoboCop” was a tongue-in-cheek, sci-fi classic — a clever satire of the acceptance of machines to control humanity and an indictment of America’s freefall into consumerism.

It may have starred Peter Weller as Alex Murphy, Detroit street cop turned robotic Judge Dredd, but the co-stars stole the show. They included old-school special effects, deadpan humor, stop-motion animation and cartoony gore that made the movie an instant cult hit.

Director Jose Padilha’s adaptation can’t match the superheroic, over-the-top kitsch of the original so instead focused on the struggles of humanity to understand the ever-encroaching importance of robotics in daily life, be it through warfare, Big Brother surveillance or medical relief.

It does succeed on that level, but I never felt comfortable with current cop actor Joel Kinnaman in the lead role.

This guy’s one-dimensional cop character works spectacularly in AMC’s show “The Killing” playing second fiddle to actress Mireille Enos. He’s too close to Detective Stephen Holder here, especially before being dismantled and encased in metal.

I do offer kudos to actor Gary Oldman as the compassionate lead researcher Dr. Dennett Norton who brings RoboCop to life. His empathy and conundrum of using science as a weapon helps keep the drama anchored throughout.

The plot roughly follows the original movie as Alex Murphy dies at the hands of criminals while the money-grubbing OmniCorp, run by a slimy CEO Raymond Sellers (actor Michael Keaton play it too understated here), helps turn him into a bionic man.

Rather than a superhero origin film, we witness a frightening experiment in biological weaponry. This human monstrosity (appearing as a head, pair of lungs and hand) before the robotics envelope his remaining human pieces is pretty jarring.

His journey to not only find his killers but also reconnect with his family (especially his son) will keep viewers who have never seen the original satisfied.

However, old-timers who grew up to the whirs, stomping sounds and head cocks of the old, Alex Murphy in silvery cyborg armor won’t find enough reasons to watch.

I’ll admit RoboCop 2014 has its moments (I even like the sleek, black armor upgrade), but the reboot never matches any of the twisted charm of the 1987 effort.

Best extras: Viewers get only a smattering of extras that don’t exactly offer any more reason to drop $40 on the Blu-ray.

First, we get a three-part, 28-minute overview of the production. It’s more of a rationalization for remaking one of coolest cult sci-fi movies of the 20th century. I’m still not convinced. The best segment looks at the technology behind making the RoboCop suit.

Next, we get some fictional product announcements from OmniCorp touting devices seen in the film.

These include a soldier exoskeleton, the 11-foot-tall, ED-209 robot armed with hellfire missiles, the XT-908 aerial drone that can reach altitudes of 55,000 feet (before dropping a laser-guided surgical bomb), the Cruiser 1 motorcycle hitting speeds of 248 miles per hour and various versions of the C2-2000 Robocop.

Play the movie (literally): Download the free RoboCop game (Glu Games, Rated Mature, for both iOS and Android systems) and become the cyborg Alex Murphy as he blasts the bad guys in this third-person shooting adventure. A player uses firepower from the film (including ordering drone strikes on enemies), can upgrade the suit and weapons, scans target with heat vision and helps save hostages.

Read all about it: Boom! Studios not only offered last year an eight-part miniseries called “RoboCop: The Last stand” (that adapted Frank Miller’s script for the “RoboCop 3” movie) but in 2014, we get “RoboCop: The Human Element.” This series of four, one-shot comics based on the latest movie is currently compiled in a trade paperback ($14.99). Also, those who buy the RoboCop Blu-ray at Target will get a download code for the single sequential-art issue “RoboCop: Gauntlet.”

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