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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Robocop: Criterion
Robocop: Criterion
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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted June 29, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

As with most Paul Verhoven movies, whether the subject be sex ("Showgirls") or violence("Starship Troopers"), the director always takes things over the top, and this 1987 feature is no different. The movie takes place in Detroit in the future, where crime runs rampant, and police do what they can to keep it under control.

But when an officer(Peter Weller) is injured in the line of duty, scientists bring him back as part man/part machine, otherwise known as "Robocop". The officer has definitely gained a new "look", but for all intensive purposes, he's still the same human under all of that steel; he even has memories of when he was once human, which haunt him.

It's almost certain where the movie is headed in its final sequences, but Verhoven toys with the audience along the way, throwing in his usual brand humor which keeps the audience guessing about where he's headed next. The film definitely shows quite a lot of violence(the criterion version contains the director's cut, even) and the film probably served as inspiration to many of the comic book action films that came after it.

The performances are quite good, and it's a little odd to see Kurtwood Smith, who's now on the comedy series "That 70's Show" as a horrible criminal.


The DVD

VIDEO: It's unfortunate that this effort was produced before Criterion decided to do anamorphic transfers on a consistent basis. It looks pretty solid for the most part, and for a film that's 13 years old, I was pleased - but it could look better than it does. Images are sharp and pleasingly clear with good detail, as well. Colors remain strong and nicely saturated, with no noticeable problems. Flaws are pretty minor; there is a noticable, but not major amount of grain in some sequences. Also, some minor shimmering appears now and again, but nothing too distracting. A minor mark or two on the print used are apparent, but the print used is otherwise crisp and clean. Flesh tones seem natural and accurate, and otherwise, this looks very solid. The image is letterboxed at 1.66:1.

SOUND: The film's audio is not up to the standards of action films today, but for its time, its a pretty solid sound mix that captures all of the gunfire and action with impressive detail and little, if any, distortion. The great score sounds very solid and pleasing, and the audio as a whole sounds very good. Dialogue is clear and clean, as well.

MENUS:: As usual with many of the bigger Criterion releases, the menus serve as a very nice opening to the movie, offering clips and the score behind a list of buttons to select from.

EXTRAS:.

Commentary:Audio Commentary by director Paul Verhoeven, co-writer Edward Neumeier, executive producer Jon Davidson. Like most Criterion Commentaries, this one is unfortunately edited together, with all of the participants recorded separately. Verhoeven is really an interesting person to listen to, and although I'm not a very big fan of his films, I've enjoyed listening to him on both this track and on the "Starship Troopers" commentary.

Davidson doesn't seem to remember as much about the making of the movie at first, but then is able to offer many interesting tidbits, such as the subject he first starts with - he chats energetically and humorously about how no directors wanted to even go near this picture (even Verhoven at first) - as well as what the studio first thought of the film. Edward Neumeier talks about his beginings in Hollywood as well as his inspirations and viewpoint about the making of the movie, and shares a lot of the history of the production.

All of the participants seem like they are having fun remembering stories from the making of the movie, and all 3 share quite a lot of informative tidbits, especially Verhoven, who talks intensely about his viewpoint on the film's tone, style and over-the-top feel. All in all, I thought this was a great commentary - all of the participants seem to be having fun and they offer some fascinating facts.

Trailers: The theatrical and teaser trailers, presented in full-frame and 2.0

Shooting Robocop: An interesting multimedia presentation offering an essay about the making of the film paired with small clips and photos from the movie. This section offers an impressive amount of background information, and some great information about how sequences were filmed.

Storyboard/Film Comparison: A split-screen comparison of the "ED-209" sequence, as well as storyboards for two scenes that were planned, but never actually filmed.

Final Thoughts: It's a little on the expensive side, but worth it if you're a fan of the film.

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