Tag Archives: 1987 movies

RoboCop (1987) Review

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Robocop

Time: 102 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence
Cast:
Peter Weller as Alex Murphy/RoboCop
Nancy Allen as Anne Lewis
Daniel O’Herlihy as The Old Man
Ronny Cox as Dick Jones
Kurtwood Smith as Clarence Boddicker
Miguel Ferrer as Bob Morton
Director: Paul Verhoeven

In a dystopic and crime-infested Detroit, a terminally injured policeman (Peter Weller) returns to the force as a potent cyborg haunted by submerged memories.

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RoboCop was a classic action sci-fi movie from the 1980s. 34 years later, it remains not only a staple for iconic 1980s action films, but also one of the most intelligent and satirical, and it surprisingly holds up all these years later.

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RoboCop could’ve been dismissed as enjoyable action fare from the 80s, but categorising this film as just a B-level action movie doesn’t do it justice. In fact, oncoming years have only allowed the value of the film to become clearer than ever. It is one of the most intelligent B-movies, flawlessly blending sharp satire and grand sci-fi action. RoboCop is a smart and sharply written satire of America’s warped, violent culture of vanity and the state of said culture. It lashes out at the division between the rich and the poor alongside the growing industrialism running rampant across the screen. It also covers Reagan era economics, corporate privatization of public services, corrupt politics, consumerism, capitalism, and of course militarisation of police. What used to feel like a cautionary tale about the near future’s rise of corporate fascism now just feels like a documentary of today, and much of the movie remains relevant as ever. Paul Verhoeven’s satire isn’t subtle but in RoboCop it is only fitting that everything is so distinctly in your face, it suits the nature and style of the film so perfectly. At the same time, RoboCop also works as a B-movie sci-fi flick. It is very cheesy from the over-the-top action moments to the dialogue, but it was also witty, well made and well paced across its roughly hour and 40 minute runtime, with not one wasted scene. It seems like it should feel dated but as said earlier, it was ahead of its time. As goofy as the movie is, it’s also violent, vulgar and schlocky. The main character is technically killed within 20 minutes in such a brutal way, establishing the tone for the rest of the movie. There’s also all the little touches of worldbuilding throughout for this futuristic setting, such as the automated greeting unit for prospective house hunters, and the ads poking fun at consumer culture.

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The cast all perform well in their parts. Peter Weller convincingly portrays RoboCop even under the bulky suit and helmet. He really immerses himself as the character, giving him a real, profound depth. The supporting cast are good in their parts too. However among them, it’s the cast of villains who shine the most, especially Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith and Miguel Ferrer.

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Paul Verhoeven’s direction is great. Although it takes place sometime in the future, the film makes little attempt to look that much futuristic beyond its cyborg lead. The design, costumes and locations are steeped in the look and feel of the 1980s, giving the film both a recognisability and a lived-in aesthetic. The effects are sometimes rough but mostly well-rendered, and the practical effects are fantastic. There’s even some stop motion, while that does look dated, it does add something to the style and feel of the movie. The violence of RoboCop is especially unrestrained, and there are many uses of authentic looking effects for the gore.

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RoboCop works as both an 80s action B movie, and a social satire, goofy and entertaining, yet very intelligent and relevant. It’s been said many times but it’s surprising how well it holds up over a few decades later. I’d go so far as to say that RoboCop is essential viewing, especially if you’re a fan of action movies.

Predator (1987) Review

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer
Carl Weathers as Al Dillon
Elpidia Carrillo as Anna Gonsalves
Bill Duke as Mac Elliot
Richard Chaves as Jorge “Poncho” Ramírez
Jesse Ventura as Blain Cooper
Sonny Landham as Billy Sole
Shane Black as Rick Hawkins
R. G. Armstrong as Major General Homer Phillips
Kevin Peter Hall as The Predator/helicopter pilot
Director: John McTiernan

Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a soldier of fortune, is hired by the U.S. government to secretly rescue a group of politicians trapped in Guatemala. But when Dutch and his team, which includes weapons expert Blain (Jesse Ventura) and CIA agent George (Carl Weathers), land in Central America, something is gravely wrong. After finding a string of dead bodies, the crew discovers they are being hunted by a brutal creature with superhuman strength and the ability to disappear into its surroundings.

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With the latest Predator movie coming in under a month from now, I decided to check out the original film again. Predator was a pretty big hit upon its release and would lead to 2 (now 3) sequels and a couple of crossover films with the Alien franchise. While the reaction to Predator upon it’s release was mixed, it become more beloved over time. Watching Predator for a second time, I have to say that it is still a really entertaining 80s action movie. It may not be one of my favourite action movies of all time but I still really like it and it does have its place in action cinema.

Predator is a rather straightforward action movie that is rather thin on plot. The first third is a seemingly standard action movie, and the rest is a survival against a mysterious killer who’s picking each of them off. The highlight of the film without a doubt though was the third act with Arnold Schwarzenegger and The Predator facing off. It’s glorious to watch, and I like how Arnold has to go to ‘primal’ tactics to fight the Predator instead of just using all the guns that they have in most of the movie. One effective thing about the Predator in this movie is that the movie doesn’t just show it in all its glory (of course its not quite as impactful now that we all know what it looks like). As I said earlier, there isn’t a lot of depth to the story or the characters, and it’s not that unpredictable. However for the type of movie it’s trying to be, it works well enough most of the time. With that said, there is a death halfway into the movie that is lingered on for too long and it feels stretched out. It’s not like it left any emotional impact, we don’t feel much for the character’s death because we didn’t particularly learn much about said character and weren’t given any particular reason to like him. So really it would’ve just been better to move past that death scene reasonably quickly. Outside of that segment, Predator is pretty consistent in its hour and 46 minute running time.

The cast with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill Duke, Richard Chaves, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham and Shane Black do a good job in the movie. As I said before, none of these characters get any characterisation or depth and so they don’t really get to do much with their roles. Arnold Schwarzenegger does quite well once again in an action role, there’s no real depth given to him here but he is believable enough in his role and is great in the action scenes, particularly in the third act.

John McTiernan is a very good action director with Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October and Die Hard with a Vengeance and Predator is yet another solid action flick from him. The gun battle (there’s really just one in the first act) and all the action scenes are really done well. The locations really works, it makes you feel like you’re in the jungle and it doesn’t feel fake for at least most of it. It really feels like an 80s action movie, with the sound effects, CGI, explosions, sparks and music by Alan Silvestri, which could really work for you or not, but you do need to go into it expecting an 80s movie. Some of it can look really dated, such as the cloaking effects, also some of the POV shots from the Predator’s perspective in the third act were kind of messy. On another note, the design of the Predator itself is quite great, it feels effective and while we don’t learn the background of these aliens (I don’t know if we ever get to learn in the movies) it works well for this movie.

Predator is a really solid action movie and watching it you can really see why it made such an impact when it was released. Not all of it has aged well, it has a very thin plot with thin characters, and I’m not sure if I’d personally put it on the best action movies of all time list, but it is still essential viewing for anyone who loves action movies.

Superman 4: The Quest For Peace (1987) Review

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Superman 4

Time: 93 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent/Superman
Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, Voice of Nuclear Man
Jackie Cooper as Perry White
Margot Kidder as Lois Lane
Marc McClure as Jimmy Olsen
Jon Cryer as Lenny Luthor
Sam Wanamaker as David Warfield
Mark Pillow as Nuclear Man
Mariel Hemingway as Lacy Warfield
Director: Sidney J. Furie

Superman (Christopher Reeve) does a lot in his newest adventure. Arch villain Lex Luther (Gene Hackman), determined to make the world safe for nuclear arms merchants creates a new being to challenge the Man of Steel: the radiation-charged Nuclear Man.

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Superman 3 was a bad movie but I didn’t expect how bad its sequel would be. Almost everything in Superman 4 is a complete fail, the acting, the special effects, the ‘story’, with the exception of Christopher Reeve. Being the Batman and Robin of Superman, Superman 4 is so far the worst Superhero movie I’ve seen.

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The biggest plotline is following the whole nuclear weapons issue between America and Russia and Superman’s crusade to get rid of the weapons. The story isn’t interesting at all and doesn’t really progress much. All that’s worth pointing out is the colossal amount of confusing ideas and missteps that happen. What’s puzzling is that Superman is getting rid of everyone’s nuclear weapons and everyone is just perfectly willing to give them up, even Russia. There are many questionable things, like Nuclear Man getting power from the sun but yet there are many moments where he still works even when he’s not in direct sunlight. There’s a scene when Nuclear Man shoots and attacks civilians, instead of actually stopping him, Superman just tells him to stop. During a ‘fight’ with Superman, Nuclear Man turns into a kamikaze missile and flies into a mountain to erupt a volcano. Superman then uses a bit of the mountain to cork the erupting volcano. Close to the end Superman actually pushes the moon to block the sun and there’s a scene when a human is able to survive in space.

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The one thing that’s good in all the Superman movies is Christopher Reeve. He has always been the Superman we know and enjoy and even when stupid things happen, he plays it as straight faced as he can. The same can’t really be said about the rest of the cast. Nuclear Man is such a weak villain, with no consistencies in his motivations. At one point he goes to kill Superman but then goes to kill others while Superman is in pursuit. He also during the fight throws the statue of liberty at the city, not even at Superman. He also at some point suddenly takes an interest in Lacy even though he has never met her. Gene Hackman is still sort of good as Lex Luther, even if his plans are strange to say the least. There’s also an unconvincing connection between Lacy and Clark, and it doesn’t help matters that Christopher Reeve and Mariel Hemingway don’t have any chemistry.

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The most standout thing about this movie is the horrible effects. The shot of Superman flying towards the camera is reused over and over again. There is also a shot of Lois falling and Superman catching her and has quite possibly the worst blue screen ever. The scenes of Superman and Nuclear Man flying are absolutely terrible and are the worst effects I’ve ever seen. The fight scenes are also very bad, particularly with Superman and Nuclear Man. A lot of the time it just looks like they are catfighting and other times they are knocking each other such a distance away.

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Superman 4 is by far the worst Superman movies and one of the worst superhero movies ever made. Even with its 1:30 runtime, it is a drag and it’s a wonder that it actually exists. I’m always puzzled by people who say that Man of Steel is the worst Superman movie ever made, clearly they haven’t seen Superman 4.