Most people could probably go without hearing the description “remake/reboot of a beloved 1980s film” ever again. However, the in-development RoboCop re-fashioning could actually be a worthwhile one, seeing that Elite Squad helmer José Padilha - along with Darren Aronofsky as a producer – is onboard to reboot the cyborg cop character for the 21st century.
Rumors about which actor would follow in Peter Weller’s foosteps and portray Officer Alex J. Murphy in the new RoboCop have been circulating for a while now – with Chris Pine being one of the most recently-mentioned candidates.
There has not yet been much in the way of discussion about the approach Padilha and his screenwriter, Josh Zetumer, would take to the RoboCop storyline – and, more importantly, how it will differ from director Paul Verhoeven’s in the beloved original 1987 sci-fi/action flick.
Film1 was recently chatting with Padilha about Elite Squad 2, when the conversation turned to his RoboCop remake – and the filmmaker had the following to say on the subject (tip of the hat to /Film for the translation):
“I love the sharpness and political tone of [Verhoeven's] ‘RoboCop’, and I think that such a film is now urgently needed. But I will not repeat what Verhoeven has done so clearly and strongly. Instead I try to make a film that will address topics that Verhoeven [left] untreated. If you are a man [that] changes into a robot, how do you do that? What is the difference between [how] humans and robots [are] developed? What is free will? What does it mean to lose your free will? Those are the [interesting] issues that I think.”
It sounds as though Padilha is more interested in exploring the existential implications of the RoboCop character – and that he intends to ease back a bit on the political overtones/satire of Verohoeven’s film. That doesn’t mean the remake would completely abandon the social commentary of the 1987 version – which did touch on the philosophical implications of being a half-human/half-machine organism, to a lesser degree – but that the focus would shift (hopefully, enough so as to justify remaking Robocop in the first place).
Aronofsky was long rumored to helm the RoboCop remake himself, which makes sense enough. One of the recurring character archetypes in his films has been that of a regular person who struggles to accept the physical limitations of the human body – and ends up ultimately damaging themselves, in the process of attempting to overcome said restrictions (see: The Fountain, The Wrestler, Black Swan).
That’s all to say: With Aronofsky still connected to the project, it would be logical to conclude that he and Padilha share certain ideas about how to approach the RoboCop story – especially when it concerns the nature of the main character’s struggle to retain his humanity, despite his mechanized additions. So the latter’s comments are all the less surprising, in that regard.
Philosophical issues and questions that are raised by the idea of a cybernetic individual like RoboCop are also all the more timely today, in an age where robotic appendages – whether it be an artificial organ or an external insulin pump for diabetics – are increasingly a part of everyday life. So, again, if Padilha intends to touch more on said issues in his remake, it would be quite fitting.
That is, again, assuming you’re not already sick to death of 1980s movie remakes by now.
We will keep you posted on the status of the RoboCop remake as more information is released.