Saturday, December 12, 2009

Movies! - "Bitches leave!"

I first saw Robocop while at a friend's house. As I've explained before, I didn't grow up with cable, so I missed a lot of movies while growing up. I remember really liking it, and even though I couldn't have been older than fourteen or fifteen, I knew that there was something more going on with this film than just a simple-minded action story. When you're that young, you're not quite able to appreciate satire and irony as well as you probably do when you're older, but I definitely understood that some of the stuff in there was meant to be funny, just not "ha ha" funny.

The plot is pretty simple. Good cop gets killed. Cop is reborn as Robocop. Robocop avenges his own death. That's pretty basic, and on its surface, all you could hope from that is a good-bad kind of a movie. Robocop goes a few steps further, and although there are lots of bits in there that are appealing to the good-bad mindset (like the guy getting hit by toxic waste so he starts to melt, only to have a car hit him and make his body splatter all over the place) there's stuff in there that elevates it above your common genre film.

The movie is part satire, as one of the plot points is that the police department gets privatized by a corporation called Omni Consumer Products. ('Cause the way we run it now is socialism!) When Murphy is reborn as Robocop, his memories are erased. The company views him as a product, and they make no recognition of his humanity. Of course, the mindwipe isn't successful, and the conclusion of the movie isn't when Robocop gets revenge on his murderers but when he recognizes and accepts his humanity.

There was definitely one thing that I recognized when I was younger that I still appreciate now. That's the fact that the movie has some of the most despicable bad guys of any film I can recall off the top of my head. The lead bad guy, Clarence Boddicker, is completely over-the-top in his evilness. At the beginning of the film, he tosses one of his henchmen out the back of a truck during a high speed chase. Perhaps he did it because the guy "burnt the fucking money!" I have a feeling that he might have done it anyway. Also, Clarence takes delight in killing Officer Murphy, and he doesn't just shoot him - he encourages his cronies to torture the man before finally delivering the fatal shot. From that moment onwards, you just can't wait for him to get his just desserts. (Oh, and it was Boddicker who delivered the line from today's title. It's from the part when he walks into the home of Bob Morton to assassinate him. There are a couple of models partying with Bob, and Clarence barges in and the first words out of his mouth are, "Bitches leave!" Part of the greatness is the delivery of Kurtwood Smith.)

As I've gotten older, I've noticed that there are a lot of people who don't realize all of the other levels that this movie is playing on. They can't seem to get past the basic premise. I remember a neighbor of mine even saying that it was "stupid" because "he dies and they bring him back to life." I suppose I should point out that this guy is a total right-winger, and it's a known fact that they're irony and satire impaired. Still, I've talked to other people who like it for the great action scenes, but they don't seem to go past that.

Don't get me wrong - it's not really high art we're talking about here. It primarily works as an action film, and it definitely delivers on that level. However, there certainly is a lot more going on than that.

As for the sequels? Utter crap. They both had a couple of interesting ideas in them that perhaps could have been developed into decent films, but the execution of those ideas was craptacular.

4 comments:

Jeff said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dV28wGVtxRw

Kaboom32 said...

I'm proud to say that I read the official movie adaptation novel of Robocop.

Nolan said...

I actually really like "Robocop 2," but I haven't watched it in a while, so I can't tell you why. Isn't it part satire on the war on drugs?

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Yup. Like I said, there were some good ideas. They just didn't add up.