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Why ROBOCOP and TOTAL RECALL sucked, according to Paul Verhoeven

2 min read

Joel Kinnaman

Why did the new Robocop suck? Or for that matter, the new Total Recall? We all have out theories, but I think Paul Verhoeven, who directed both originals, nailed it in this quote:

Somehow they seem to think that the lightness of say Total Recall and Robocop is a hindrance. So they take these somewhat absurd stories and make them much too serious. I think that is a mistake. Especially in Robocop when he awakens they gave him the same brain. He’s a horribly injured and amputated victim, which is horrifying and tragic from the very beginning. So we didn’t do that in Robocop. His brain is gone and he has only flashes of memory and needs to go to a computer to find out who he even is. I think by not having a robot brain, you make the movie much heavier and I don’t think that helps the movie in anyway. It becomes more silly or absurd, but in the wrong way. Both those movies needed the distance of satire or comedy to situate it for audiences. Playing it straight without any humour is a problem and not an improvement.

Verhoeven, especially during that period of his career, would push perception by embracing absurdity. In his films gratuitous sex and ultra violence are used to suggest a state of hyper-reality. In the same way a cartoon show such as The Simpsons or South Park can get away with themes no live-action peers could touch, Robocop and Total Recall (as well as Starship Troopers and Basic Instinct) could cross lines without alienating audiences because they seemed to occupy a different reality.


Last Updated: September 14, 2016

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