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Paul Verhoeven's ultra violent black comedy comes to DVD in the form of a special director’s cut from Criterion. I was very interested in getting hold of this disc, primarily because RoboCop is one of my all-time favourite films. The chance to see the film as the director intended was the icing on the cake.

Robocop: Criterion Edition

Feature


Almost everyone knows the story of Murphy, a good cop brutally murdered in the line of duty. Resurrected by a greedy multi-national corporation as RoboCop, a crime-fighting cyborg, Murphy must come to terms with the loss of his humanity while trying to track down those responsible for his death. The film has a black sense of humour throughout, with the best examples being the Media Break news items in which two clean-cut presenters recount tales of the day’s tragedies with fake smiles firmly in place. I particularly love the advertisements that accompany the news bulletins, like the one for the home board game ‘Nuke ‘Em’. This unrated director’s cut of the film features approximately one to two minute’s worth of additional footage, most of which is restoration of the more violent scenes that had to be omitted in order to secure a theatrical release. In particular, watch out for ED 209's first appearance in the OCP boardroom, which is an excellent example of the black humour, and Murphy’s very graphic death at the hands of a vicious gang of criminals. Most of the violence is very tongue in cheek, but make no mistake; this isn’t for those of you with a weak stomach.

Robocop: Criterion Edition

Video


The film is presented in its director approved 1.66:1 aspect ratio, but unfortunately the picture is not anamorphically enhanced. Given the lack of 16:9 enhancement the quality is still fairly good, although it is perhaps a little grainy overall. Also, the special effects do look a little dated now, but this is hardly surprising considering that the film is fast approaching its twentieth anniversary. ED209, which was the coolest looking thing I had ever seen back in 1987, now looks like a fairly unconvincing stop-motion puppet. His growling voice is still menacing enough though, and for the first time we get to see him really give it to Kinney in the OCP boardroom.

Robocop: Criterion Edition

Audio


Audio is provided courtesy of a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround track, but the mix still does the various explosions and effects justice. Robo’s gun still sounds fantastic, and as mentioned before ED209 still growls away threateningly. The various sound effects used for the cyborg’s movements are also spot-on. Obviously the rears aren't used as extensively as they might have been in a full 5.1 remix, but then the film only had a surround mix at the time of its theatrical release. The rousing score also sounds great here, and suits the proceedings perfectly.

Robocop: Criterion Edition

Extras


The disc itself features a fair smattering of special features, including an insightful and, at times, very amusing commentary from Verhoeven and Neumeier among others. Verhoeven is one of those guys who really gets into his work, and you can imagine him becoming quite animated while recording the commentary. The disc also features special effects stills, a movie-to-storyboard comparison and an essay on the making of the film. As previously stated this director's cut also includes some additional footage that, while not strictly an extra, does add to the collectable nature of the disc. There's not a lot more on offer though, just some extended violent scenes near the beginning of the film.

Robocop: Criterion Edition
Overall
Peter Weller does an amazing job as RoboCop, and he is backed up by a fine supporting cast featuring Nancy Allen, Ronnie Cox, Miguel Ferrer and Kurtwood Smith. The extra footage weighs in at between one or two minutes as far as I can tell. There really isn't anything that adds to the story here, just to the bloodshed (although there are some great special effects shots in the restored footage). There are also cheaper versions of the film available, which I believe are in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio and anamorphically enhanced, so if you're not bothered about the extra footage and have a widescreen set you may be better off going for one of these. If however you want the most complete edition of this fine movie then look no further than this DVD. As RoboCop might say—‘Your move... creep.’


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