Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Part man. Part machine. All remake.

Last April, I mentioned how the original RoboCop movie from 1987, starring Peter Weller and directed by Paul Verhoeven, played a pretty seminal role in shaping my nascent filmic sensibilities (even if I did see it about five years before I probably should have). While I still feel that first flick, with its mix of highbrow social commentary and lowbrow blood 'n' guts, holds up remarkably well nearly a quarter-century later, there's also no doubting that it lost more and more of its uniqueness and independent voice the further it was franchised and sequelized -- through two feature sequels, two live action TV series, and two animated series.

Thus, the news that MGM is getting ready to fast-track a RoboCop remake has me wary, but also surprisingly optimistic. Certainly, there's enough meat-and-potatoes in the original concept, about a murdered police officer revived as an unstoppable cyborg, for a good filmmaker to really do something unique, just as Verhoeven did lo those many years ago. For awhile it was looking like the new Robo might be spearheaded by director Darren Aronofosky, about which I had cause to be hopeful, but MGM's well-chronicled financial travails put that off just long enough for the Black Swan Oscar nominee to fill his dance card up with a certain razor-clawed superhero's next installment.

With Aronofsky unavailable, it looks like the formerly beleaguered, now cash-flush Lion is turning instead to director Jose Padilha, whose Elite Squad and Elite Squad 2 were huge critical and commercial successes in his native Brazil, to take the reins on the project. While it has no script or writers attached as of yet, it does have a potential budget in the $80 mil range, which would be a significant step up for Padilha. I haven't seen either of the Elite Squad flicks, so I'm unequipped to comment on them specifically, but I've also heard enough  good things from people I trust to say that his coming aboard is a good sign -- or at least a good start.

And while we're on the subject, click past the jump to see a vid from Robo himself -- Peter Weller -- as he offers his support for the efforts of some very dedicated fans to have a RoboCop statue erected in the character's hometown of Detroit:

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