This weekend’s RoboCop remake has been summarily rejected by moviegoers as it limps into third-place with a dismal $21.2 million box office showing, falling far short of the predicted $35 million take that was eye-balled by co-producers Sony and MGM Studios. Currently sporting a 49% rating on RottenTomatoes.com–with the site stating that the new film “fails to offer a significant improvement over the original”–the new RoboCop has been called everything from “half interesting” on this site’s one-star review to “a bright shiny remake that fails to justify its existence” by Blast Magazine (although Variety bucked the trend of negative reviews by calling the film “smarter-than expected.”) A PG-13 remake of Paul Verhoeven’s ultra-violent (and, to a degree, fairly prescient) 1987 sci-fi critique of the corporatization and militarization of modern society, the RoboCop remake was released on a Valentine’s Day weekend that saw a slate of 1980s remakes–including a remake of the 1986 Rob Lowe-Demi Moore film “About Last Night” with a black cast led by burgeoning star Kevin Hart and the swoonerific “Endless Love,” a remake of the 1981 Brooke Shields vehicle–that found tepid response at the box office, with all films being Lego-blocked by “The Lego Movie” which, by raking in over $60 million in its second weekend, has proven to be the first runaway success of 2014.
The reviews of RoboCop were not nearly as excoriating as those for the early-season turkeys Legends of Hercules or I, Frankenstein, balancing negative critiques of the film that raises questions about both the point and necessity of the remake with praise for the special effects and acting performances, most particularly Samuel L. Jackson scenery-chewing turn as a Fox News-talking head a la Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly. But it appears that the expectation that the remake would disappoint was a forgone conclusion shared by one key group: fans of the 1987 original. As James Rocchi wrote (in paraphrasing Matt Singer’s take on Spike Lee’s Oldboy) the RoboCop remake seems intended for a particular audience that may not even exist: those that unaware of the 1987 RoboCop but at the same time know, loves and venerate it. For those die-hard fans that not only are aware of the 1987 original but also do love and venerate, the fact that the remake would not be very good seems to be a foregone conclusion. Which helps explain “Our RoboCop Remake” an original, crowd-sourced, fan-made production that is the only RoboCop remake worth watching.
In a page taken out of the “sweded” versions of well-known films created by Jack Black and Mos Def in Be Kind Rewind, “Our RoboCop Remake” is not necessarily a shot-by-shot remake of Verhoeven’s 1987 original, but instead describes itself as a “scene-by-scene retelling.” Created by 55 different filmmakers–both amateur and professional–each responsible for an individual scene, “Our RoboCop Remake” revels in the cheesy ridiculousness that comprised a good portion of the 1987 original film’s appeal. Ranging from nearly every form of film-making medium, including actors in ill-fitting costumes breaking out into choreographed song-and-dance accompanied with no-budget special effects to stop-motion animation to even 8-bit video games–“Our RoboCop Remake” was completed in time to be released practically simultaneously with the Sony-MGM big-budget remake, making its Los Angeles premiere on January 26th. Released online on February 6th, the crowd-sourced remake has been watched over 200,000 times in a little less than two weeks.
“Our RoboCop Remake” is definitely worth a watch, and is quite possibly the most entertaining of the two RoboCop remakes that have been released over the past month. This is not to suggest it is a “good” movie by any means–it isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination. But that’s okay. In fact, its keeping entirely with the crowd-sourced remake’s tagline: “If anyone is going to ruin RoboCop, it’s us.”
The official “Our RoboCop Remake” trailer