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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.

Carrie (1976) Review

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Carrie
Time: 98 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence
Cast:
Sissy Spacek as Carrie White
Piper Laurie as Margaret White
Amy Irving as Sue Snell
William Katt as Tommy Ross
Betty Buckley as Miss Collins
Nancy Allen as Chris Hargensen
John Travolta as Billy Nolan
Director: Brian De Palma

The story of Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), a girl brought up, almost in isolation, by her psychotically religious mother Margaret (Piper Laurie). After an embarrassing incident in the showers causes her fellow pupils to tease Carrie ruthlessly, her teacher Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) disciplines them severely. Determined to have revenge, the other students hatch a plot against Carrie, which turns horribly wrong when Carrie’s strange mental powers are unleashed during the school prom.

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Carrie is based on the Stephen King book of the same name and is often called a horror classic today. Despite this, I don’t understand why everybody loves this film so much. Although I understand why is would be revolutionary in the 70s I don’t really think it’s a great movie today. There are good aspects, the acting by Sissy Spacek and the climax are well done. However I just wasn’t invested in the story that much and I didn’t find any of it scary.

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I have read the Stephen King book and I liked it, however I found most of the film version of Carrie to be quite boring and uninteresting. Scenes go on longer than they needed to and I wasn’t very invested in the story. This is surprising as I read the book and enjoyed it very much, so I don’t know why the scenes weren’t that interesting. The film is 1 hour 30 minutes so I don’t know why I found the film to be slow at times. I also didn’t personally find anything scary about the movie, though maybe it’s because of how dated it is. The last 20 minutes however are the best part of the film and after seeing it, I can understand why that part would be famous. However I don’t think it’s effective enough for the whole movie to be given all this credit.

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Sissy Spacek is great in her role, I really bought her as a girl who really didn’t fit in with other people and school and received abuse from her mother. Apart from her however, a lot of the acting was quite over the top. I don’t really understand why Piper Laurie was nominated for an Oscar. I didn’t find her performance that scary, she is so over the top that it was kind of hilarious (she actually thought she was filming a dark comedy, and I think that explains a lot). I can buy her being insane but there was never a moment where I was scared of her. In a lot of Stephen Kings books there are one dimensional bullies and Carrie is no exception. These bullies were flat characters with no real depth, they just hate Carrie. I found them to be so generic and I wonder how many people can actually take them seriously. To the film’s credit, the actors look like they are having fun playing them. The rest of the cast is serviceable, they aren’t great but they aren’t bad either.

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The cinematography is normal for the most part, nothing really special. However there were times when some of the shots aren’t that well done. There is a dance scene which spins around two people dancing and it goes on for like a minute and it gets quite nauseating. For the most part however, the main focus is on the story, and not on the style.

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If you are a horror fan and you haven’t seen Carrie, I still think it’s worth watching to make up your own mind about the overall film. To me the film was quite dated with some over the top performances and a plot which didn’t keep me engaged all the way through. Still, it’s not bad, it has some good parts (the best being Spacek’s performance) but I don’t see why this film today is so critically acclaimed and I don’t think it’s a horror classic, or a film that holds up very well. Not a bad movie overall, but definitely dated.

So what do you think about Carrie? Do you think it still holds up today or are you like me and think that this film is quite dated and not as effective now? Comment below and let me know what you think.