Robocop: 20th Anniversary Collectors Edition – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

MGM presents Robocop: 20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition. Written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner. 102 minutes. Rated R. Original released in 1987.

Directed By:

Paul Verhoeven

Cast:

Peter Weller. Officer Alex J. Murphy/RoboCop
Nancy Allen. Officer Anne Lewis
Ronny Cox. Dick Jones
Kurtwood Smith. Clarence Boddicker
Miguel Ferrer. Bob Morton
Robert DoQui. Sergeant Warren Reed
Ray Wise. Leon Nash

The Film:

Paul Verhoeven is a very notorious director. With Showgirls and Starship Troopers on his resume, most of his films are cult hits and are thought of as “so bad they’re good.” What we have here is Robocop, the film that put Verhoeven on the Hollywood map and possibly the best film of his career.

In a future dystopian Detroit, Officer Alex Murphy was just another ordinary cop until an arrest went wrong and he was brutally murdered. While this should have been the end of his story it is not. A company, Omni Consumer Products (OCP), was in the beginning stages of a super cop project and was in need of a body. Thus Robocop is born. Designed to serve and protect, OCP didn’t count on one thing: Robocop remembering his murder and seeking revenge against those responsible.

There are many reasons this film works. While rough by today’s standards, the special effects in this film are fantastic. It doesn’t rely on CGI because it didn’t exist yet. The Robocop suit is great and totally believable. Peter Weller completely sells a character that should not have been sellable. But the really sensational character here is the ED-209. ED-209 is some of the best stop-motion you’ll find and is a very menacing villain. ED-209 doesn’t have all that much screen time but is one of the more memorable parts of the film.

Something else that is explored but often-overlooked when discussing Robocop is the social and political commentary that is played out through the newscasts and commercials that are interspersed throughout the film. This was a reaction to Reaganomics and 80’s consumerism. This is a theme that Verhoeven would revisit in Starship Troopers.

All that aside, what it really boils down to is that Robocop is a fun, action-packed and gruesomely violent sci-fi film that perfectly represents the end of the 80’s. The original cut of the film was so over the top with violence that it was going to be rated X. Scenes were trimmed, including Murphy’s infamous execution scene, to give it a restricted rating. Fans of the film will rejoice that both versions of the film are included in this 20th Anniversary Collection.


Robocop takes on ED-209.

The DVD:

The Video:

The film is presented in widescreen 1.85:1. This is a good transfer and for a 20-year-old film it looks really good. Apparently, though, on the Criterion release the film was presented in 1:66.1, which is the directors preferred presentation. It is odd that that presentation would be altered like that. In the unrated version some of the added footage is a little grainier than the rest of the film making the added shots stand out a bit.

The Audio:

The film is presented in 5.1 and 4.0 Dolby Digital Surround. The films sound fantastic. All the sound effects and musical score are presented wonderfully. No complains here.

Extras:

This collection is jam packed with tons of extras spread over 2 discs!

Commentary with Director Paul Verhoeven, Writer Ed Neumeier, and Executive Producer John Davison: This is a surprisingly entertaining commentary. It is very obvious that all these men had a blast making this film. There are even a few insights here that you don’t get from the other featurettes, however some of it is repeat.

Flesh & Steel: The Making Of Robocop: This is a great thirty-plus minute featurette that takes you from the initial conception of Robocop through the filming. It talks about the troubles with getting the film made, getting Verhoeven involved (he initial threw the script on the ground) as well as covering casting and the creation of the Robocop suit. Plus ED-209 and much, much more!

Shooting Robocop: This 8 minute featurette was made in 1987. This one offers a few different things than the first one and it’s always fun to see old featurettes like this, in only to see the difference between how they were made then versus today.

Making Robocop: Also from 1987, this featurette does not offer much more that you can’t get in the other featurettes. This is an 8 minute puff piece. We’re entering overkill here.

The Boardroom: Storyboard with Commentary by Animator Phil Tippett: Tippett takes 6 minutes to walk us through how the scenes with ED-209 were done. This is pretty interesting, especially for animators.

Deleted Scenes: These are 4 really rough cut scenes. The best one is titled “Topless Pizza” where the “I’ll buy that for a dollar!” Guy is excited to be around two topless women working pizza dough.

Villains of Old Detroit: As one might guess this one spends it’s time talking about the villains including interviews with the actors who play them. This one is a fun 16 minutes.

Special Effects: Then And Now: While this covers every aspect of the special effects of the film, the best part is when they talk about the wonderful matte paintings and how it was done. With the way computer graphics have taken over, the art of the matte painting is all but lost. This and other things such as ED-209 are covered in the 18 minute featurette.

Robocop: Creating A Legend: Here we learn what went into creating Robocop as a character. Some of this is covered in other featurettes. This one, however, spends 20 minutes going into more depth on this subject.

Original Theatrical Trailer:

TV Spot:

Photo Gallery

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Robocop
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

8.5
THE VIDEO

8
THE AUDIO

9
THE EXTRAS

8
REPLAY VALUE

9
OVERALL
8
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

The Inside Pulse
Robocop has been released on DVD several times. Criterion even released one, however that is out of print. This 20th Anniversary Collection has everything a Robocop fan could ask for and if you’ve put off purchasing it in the past, now’s your chance.

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