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Non-Review Review: RoboCop (2014)

José Padilha’s RoboCop reboot is much better than the lame duck attempt to adapt Total Recall a few years back. It’s a functional action film, structured well enough to stand on its own two feet as a science-fiction thriller. There are the obligatory explosions and CGI, but there’s also a clear enough story populated by reasonably well-drawn characters with just the faintest hint of social commentary at the core. It is solid and functional on its own terms, even if it suffers in comparison to its source material.

Robocop 2.0...

Robocop 2.0…

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Non-Review Review: Elysium

Elysium is good old-fashioned high-concept science-fiction. With production design alternately evoking the seventies (the upper class satellite that gives the movie its name) and eighties (the apocalyptic wasteland of future Los Angeles), Elysium feels like a conscious attempt to evoke classic genre films. Blomkamp builds in a healthy amount of social commentary, and there’s something quite satisfying in seeing a large-scale science-fiction film that isn’t afraid of big bold ideas.

However, the execution feels just a little bit muddled. The plotting is a little convoluted, and the third act becomes incredibly messy. The characters inhabiting the world never seem organic, with their motivations and behaviour prone to change rapidly to meet the rapidly-changing demands of a very messy script.

In a bit of a fix...

In a bit of a fix…

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Non-Review Review: Total Recall (2012)

Len Wiseman’s Total Recall is a total mess. While the film features some superb production design and some passable action sequences, with an obvious affection for the design of contemporary science-fiction classics, the direction is muddled,the pacing is awkward and the script is constantly tripping over itself. At one point it’s suggested that the lead might have had has memory scrambled during a muddled recall session, the result of procedure started and yet not quite finished. In many ways, that feels a lot like what happens here – a choppy, uneven and unsatisfying movie that is a result of a muddled production and post-production process. “We can remember it for you,” an advertisement for the Rekall service boasts, homaging the classic short story that inspired the film. Unfortunately, they omitted “wholesale”, which is about the only price I could recommend this at.

Where’s your head at?

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Non-Review Review: Total Recall (2012)

Len Wiseman’s Total Recall is a total mess. While the film features some superb production design and some passable action sequences, with an obvious affection for the design of contemporary science-fiction classics, the direction is muddled,the pacing is awkward and the script is constantly tripping over itself. At one point it’s suggested that the lead might have had has memory scrambled during a muddled recall session, the result of procedure started and yet not quite finished. In many ways, that feels a lot like what happens here – a choppy, uneven and unsatisfying movie that is a result of a muddled production and post-production process. “We can remember it for you,” an advertisement for the Rekall service boasts, homaging the classic short story that inspired the film. Unfortunately, they omitted “wholesale”, which is about the only price I could recommend this at.

Where’s your head at?

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Not Quite Total Recall: Taking the Paul Verhoeven out of Paul Verhoeven Films…

I’m actually a pretty forgiving guy when it comes to Hollywood rebooting and remaking older films. After all, these newer films don’t diminish the original. It’s fantastic if a writer and director can boldly reimagine an established property like Christopher Nolan did with Batman Begins, but there’s no big loss if the film fails. We’ll just collectively forget about, return to our cherished DVD copy of the original and there’s no real problem. So I actually don’t mind Hollywood returning to familiar themes, plots, characters, settings and ideas. However, with Hollywood producing a spate of blockbuster remakes of cult Paul Verhoeven films, I can’t help but wonder if they are completely missing the point.

Head wrecking…

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Non-Review Review: Total Recall

Total Recall, to quote the lead character, whoever or whatever he may actually be, might just be “the best mind%&@! yet.”

"Dammit Cohagen, give these people some air!"

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Non-Review Review: Robo-Cop

I think Robocop might be on the shortlist of most influential B-movies ever made. Certainly, coming out of the eighties, I think that Robocop defined what an audience expected from an incorporated future – the notion that big business would eventually replace local government in the lives of citizens. It’s not a novel theme, it’s one that science-fiction has been throwing out for decades, but I think that Robocop almost redefined that argument. It’s hard not to detect the influence of the film in a lot of movies that followed, so effortless and all-consuming was the “not too distant future” presented by Verhoeven.

I wonder if that's a manual or an automatic...

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