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This is part of a series of bloody matches to the death. Show support for your favorite game so it will do better in the fight. You can support it by writing why you think its the better game and more importantly by betting (i.e. voting for) it. Please make it clear for when I check the bets later. You have until Friday when I tally the bets and declare the winner. I will reserve my bet for any tie-breakers.
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CinemaDome: Robocop vs Total Recall
Total Recall is all over-the-top silly violence. Richter losing his arms to Arnold is revenge and you're supposed to feel satisfication at how the bad guy meets his end. Murphy is the good guy just doing his job. #blueuniformsmatter
Robocop is a darkly comic, biting satire of crime movies, corporate culture and the nightly news. There isn't an ounce of fat in the script; every scene has a purpose and advances the plot, unlike the exploding-head-in-Mars-customs scene in Total Recall.
In addition, I love love LOVE me some Michael Ironside, but Kurtwood Smith's Clarence Boddicker absolutely wipes the floor with Ironside's Richter. Not only that, Boddicker's gang in Robocop has to be in the running for best cinematic criminal gang of the 80's. The only dud is Steve Minh, the rest are great and each gets a chance to shine. That's before you factor in character actors like Miguel Ferrer and Dan O'Herlihy (Ronnie Cox is a wash because he's in both films).
And I'll go to bat for the stop-motion ED-209 any day of the week over whatever half-assed CGI monstrosity you want to put up against it.
But Robocop is really a black comedy using the structure and tropes of an action movie to make it's point. And the joke goes way beyond satirizing the dehumanizing effect of corporate greed.
Robocop is a movie about the incredible power of short term thinking and how quickly we embrace it no matter how transparently bad the ideas it leads us to are. This is Dick Jones' justification for the ED-209 program:
" I had a guaranteed military sale with ED 209 - renovation program, spare parts for twenty-five years... Who cares if it worked or not?"
That feels just as central to American thinking when it comes to industry, politics or foreign policy now as it did in 1987.
And the thing is Robocop is only a slightly better solution to the problems of Old Detroit than ED-209. And created by only slightly less of a sleaze than Dick Jones.
But Robocop, the character, is terrible at policing. He applies action movie logic to every problem. Woman being assaulted by two thugs? Shoot someone's dick off. Mayor taken hostage at city hall? Punch him out a window. Gas station being robbed? BLOW UP THE GODDAMN GAS STATION.
Old Detroit is a city that is falling apart, its police are under supported to the point of going on strike. Thin in turn touches off a major riot and OCP's solution is put military grade killbots on every street corner. Robocop is a movie where the solution to every problem is literally bigger guns.
And even once Dick Jones is dispatched nothing has really changed. OCP still runs the city. Old Detroit is still in chaos. Hell, the police are probably still on strike.
...that choice would have been easy for me, way easier than this one. Starship Troopers is the most ambigious of the three, it can be enjoyed as a fascist propaganda piece as well as a fun anti-war movie. In comparison with Robocop (where even the fun adds to the bleakness) and the Mars Movie (all over the place all the time), I suspect maybe Paul Verhoeven has no clue why some of his films work and some only partially or not at all.
Sevej wrote: This... this is difuckult.... if it's a three-way match up with Starship Trooper, I'd have imploded. No sir! No comparing between Holy Verhoeven Trinity!
I find myself thinking about Robocop much more often, and its lines come to me much more readily. I think it's a much more "important" film, in terms of how much it affected pop culture. Robocop
But this goes to Robocop, easily. Weirdly, my first encounter with Robocop was the novelization that came out way before the movie. It had a picture of Robocop on it and it was in the SF section of B. Dalton so I bought it. Then I saw the movie with my parents, who had no qualms about taking me to see a Paul Verhoven movie when I was a kid.
The movie is great because it is just unabashed trash. Total schlock. It has that Verhoven touch (which has only really been successful in these three films) and that great, lascivious 1980s highbrow pulp sensibility. There's some really great stuff in it...but the movie is sort of spotty.
But still. That scene where ED-209 shoots that dude over the model of Detroit...I love it in the Criterion Collection version, that goes on for WAY too long. It's just SO gratuitous.
Total Recall is pretty great too, but Schwarzeneggar just wasn't the right man for that role. And it looks oddly cheap in places, the sets are really kind of shitty. But I love it nonetheless. I often wonder if anyone other than the people who made it ever saw that remake.
Shellhead wrote: Since we're already talking about Paul Verhoeven, I just want to say that Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds is a tame imitation of Verhoeven's excellent Black Book.
Black Book is very good and I'd say is the most coherent and less slapstick Verhoven movie since his early days. Both it and Basterds explore some similar themes, that haven't been explored in a WWII movie before. And, knowing Tarantino, he's not the kind of a person to have missed Black Book. And he would definitely feel inspired (read: steal whatever he feels is worth stealing). And yet, Black Book does not do it better than Basterds on any level. But thanks for reminding me about it, I haven't watched it in a long time!
- It is based on such am utterly ridiculous premise that it was bound to either become am embarrassing failure or a cultural icon.
- In hindsight it presents a fairly cheerful and utopian view of Detroit's future
- the scene of Murphy's death still makes me feel uncomfortable
- the newsreels. I wish starship troopers had more of those
- "Bob Morton made a mistake" quote
- for a couple of years, I saw Kurtwood Smith (or somebody who looked exactly like him) a lot in the area I lived. We crossed paths every couple of weeks, and I wouldn't stop staring at him, so he first acknowledge my existence with a nod, which eventually would develop into a "hello" and "how u doing". I never gathered enough courage to talk to him, (which I regret until today) not as much because I am shy, but because I am still scared shitless of Clarence Boddicker.
I like Total Recall, too, but this is more of Verhoven doing exactly the stuff that Hollywood excecs are asking him to do with minimal subversiveness. The only piece of satire here is that Arnold is an undercover operative, but that's the punchline of every movie in which he's playing an undercover operative.