Jonathan Melville: Robocop escapes remake - for now

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I’VE written about movie remakes before. That trend by Hollywood studios to try to recapture the success of another, usually lesser-known, film by adding a few stars and setting it in Los Angeles.

This week saw the announcement that yet another pointless reworking of an 80s classic, Robocop, has been pushed back from its original August 2013 release to February 2014, meaning we have even longer to contemplate why anyone bothered tinkering with such an iconic title.

While it’s nice to think that the film’s makers have decided that Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 sci-fi thriller, starring Peter Weller as an injured police officer rebuilt as ‘Half Man, Half Machine, All Cop’, can be radically improved, chances are it’s all down to audience brand awareness and other terms that suck the life out of the creative process.

Long-term fans will be expected to give in to their curiosity and head along to the cinema to find out if it’s as good as their Robocop, while new viewers, vaguely aware of the 27-year-old original, will want to know what all the fuss is about.

I remember watching Robocop on VHS in 1988. It was an 18 certificate and I was 12, a combination that meant the violence made an impact on me that lasts to this day. Sadly, it’s likely that the new version will be targeted at 12-year-olds so that it can be sold to as wide an audience as possible.

Interestingly, Paul Verhoeven also directed the 1990 version of Total Recall and 1997’s Starship Troopers. While the first film was recently remade and flopped, the second is currently being retooled, worryingly, by the same team.

Fingers crossed these films aren’t all a case of ‘Half Bad Script, Half Desperate Money Grabbing, All Rubbish’.

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