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Blu-ray: Robocop (1987)

About a p.h. into the future, Detroit is in rough shape… the city has fallen into a cesspool of crime and corruption, and mega-corporation OCP has plans to build a fancy new city on the ashes of the old, once that pesky criminal element is removed… which they can guarantee is going to happen because they own the police, and are planing on introducing robots into the force.

After their first attempt turns out to be a murder machine before it even hits he mean streets, the go on to plan two; Robocop a cyborg with the mind of a policeman and the body of a… well, a fucking robot, what else would it be?

Thankfully for those unscrupulous devils at OCP, officer Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is murdered by the vile Clarence Boddicker and his gang providing them with the perfect raw materials to create their “future of law enforcement”, and soon Robocop is making the city safer utilizing his adorable skill-set of unspeakable violence.

Soon Robo’s in the fight of his second life as he must deal not only with Boddicker, but the shady side of his creators… and the flashes of his shattered humanity playing across his cyber-enhanced mind as well!

Packed to the bionic brim with over-the-top violence, pointed (and still relevant) social satire, incredible performances, and full on comic book sensibilities; Robocop is one sci-fi flick that has always delivered the goods in mother fuckin’ spades!

Director Paul Verhoeven (aided and abetted by screenwriters Michael Miner, co-writer Ed Neumeier) present a world just a few steps ahead of our own, but with all of the crassness of media and corporations cranked to the nines. This presents the perfect blackly comedic and satirical under-layer on which to pack all of the groovy robot action and gore and still make it all not only palatable, but completely fucking enjoyable no matter how many times you see it.

Naturally the humanity Weller and Nancy Allen, who plays Murphy’s no-nonsense partner Lewis, bring to the material with their fantastic and emotional performances help us relate and root for the heroes while giving them true dimension… a real boon for a film that could have slipped into complete camp by less skillful performers.

That’s not to say the film is devoid of frenzied and near tongue-in-cheek performances, especially where the villains of the piece are concerned. These are the types of creeps and scumbags that would be right at home in a Judge Dredd strip right down to their one-liners and extreme weaponry. That being said, this is truly the type of antagonists a larger than life hero like Robocop needs in order for the film to seem balanced… what is Batman without his Joker, right?

Also worth a mention are the fantastic effects that explode across the screen… we get big ass killer robots, a body melt, gallons of blood and gore… all of which come to vivid life courtesy of the practical effects wizardry spearheaded by special makeup effects artist Rob Bottin (John Carpenter’s The Thing)  ED-209 (the big ass killer robot mentioned previously) sequences creator Phil Tippett (the Star Wars saga)… not to mention the sleek and unforgettable design of the titular hero himself!

Add to the mix a truly rousing score courtesy of the legendary composer Basil Poledouris (Conan the Barbarian) and it just doesn’t get any better than this cats n’ creeps!

As for the bonus features on this Blu-ray release from Arrow Video… let’s just say if you want to watch them all you may want to think about using that sick time you accrued at work.

Kicking things off on disc one (both the director’s cut and the theatrical version are included in this Arrow Video release; both on separate Blu’s with their own special features) we get three audio commentaries; an archival chat featuring director Paul Verhoeven, executive producer Jon Davison and co-writer Ed Neumeier (which covers the film’s production by those involved in a fun, wise-ass comment laden, and info packed fashion), and two new commentaries featuring film historian Paul M. Sammon (who discusses the themes and philosophies of the film, while offering production anecdotes from his time on set as a publicist for the picture) and fans Christopher Griffiths, Gary Smart and Eastwood Allen (who offer up an aficionados view of the film, as well as tons of trivia) respectively.

Following that we get brand new interviews with Miner, Neumeier (along with filmmakers David Birke and Nicholas McCarthy), Allen, casting director Julie Selzer, second unit director Mark Goldblatt, and special photographic effects artists Peter Kuran and Kevin Kutchaver.

Next comes more new material including a tribute to composer Poledouris, and a tour of Robocop super-fan Julien Dumont’s collection of props and memorabilia from the film, followed by an archival Q&A sesh from 2012 featuring Verhoeven, Neumeier, Miner, Allen, Weller and Tippett, three archival featurettes covering the production (featuring looks at the creation of the Robocop suit, the film’s villains, and the stop-motion and matte paintings utilized in the making of the picture), an archival piece with Verhoeven describing his cameo in the film, a selection of deleted scenes, an archival commentary with Tippett discussing the boardroom scene featuring the storyboards utilized, a look at the filming of scenes featured in the director’s cut, two theatrical trailers for the film, three TV spots, and a series of image galleries (featuring stills covering the production, behind-the-scenes, and poster and video art).

Disc Two contains the theatrical cut of the film with the same Verhoeven and co. archival audio commentary (in a slightly different format), as well as two isolated score tracks featuring Poledouris’ epic music in both an original version as well as it’s final theatrical mix. Also included are the film’s hysterical “edited for TV” cut (as well as a compilation of dubbed footage from alternate television presentations of the film), side by side comparisons of scenes from the director’s and theatrical cuts of the film, as well as the theatrical cut compared to changes made for the TV version.

Look this edition of Robocop is the one to own; you get both cuts of the film, literally an ass-load of extras… shit I din’t even mention the lobby card repros, 2 sided poster, or the 80 page booklet containing a bevy of excellent essays and an interview from Bottin courtesy of a 1987 issue of Fangoria magazine… you simply can not go wrong here my faithful fiends!

 

 

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