Tuesday Releases: RoboCop & Lone Survivor

JUNE 3RD, 2014

ROBOCOP // Gary Oldman is a bonafide savior. Now, do not get me wrong, I do not believe he is godly, but I do recognize that he has a saving power in which each film he graces ends up being way more enjoyable because of his presence. The remake of “RoboCop” is no different. Set in a world where putting a man inside a machine has not yet happened, José Padilha’s take on the robotic cop action flick does not extrapolate on the previous endeavors, nor does it follow any of the rhetoric established in prior films. Had it been given any other name, people may not have held it to the standards they placed on the over-the-top, violence-ladened ‘80s and ‘90s films. But it does share the name and here we are with endless comparisons.

Joel Kinnaman, best known for his highlight role in “The Killing”, steps into suit this time around, as Alex Murphy, an undercover cop who finds himself against one of the biggest bad guys in 2028 Detroit. After the mob boss orders his extermination via car bomb, Murphy is left barely alive, leaving a wife (Abbie Cornish) and son behind. Murphy’s story is told parallel to one about OmniCorp, a company that specializes in military robotics. Used mainy overseas to keep the peace, the head of OmniCorp, Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) dreams of a day where these robots could be protecting American soil. Backed by talk show host Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson), military man Rick Mattox (Jackie Earle Haley), and the reluctant Dr. Dennett Norton (the incomparable Gary Oldman), Sellars sets out to “put a man in the machine” as to appease those who believe robots lack the conscience of a human being in making life or death decisions. This is where the stories collide, as Murphy is that man in the machine.

There truly is a magic to Gary Oldman that sells any role that he steps into. As Dr. Norton, Oldman holds onto the most conflicted character of the film, as he struggles with what he wants in way of the advancement of robotics for helping people and what he believes to be wrong, like operating on Murphy’s brain when he does not comply the way that Sellars would like him too. Murphy has conflicting emotions as well, but as most of his become robotic at a certain point in the film, Oldman’s character remains the only raw emotion to take hold throughout most of the film. Cornish spends most of the film crying and seeing as how her husband is basically dead, I say rightfully so, but never being allowed to shine, her role becomes laddened with depression and nagging. Although it is nice to see Keaton working again, he and Haley share the same bad guy personas that make you dislike them and not in the way that you love to hate certain villains, but simply not enjoying their time on the screen.

“RoboCop” tries to make a point, drawing clear similarities to notions that fall under “national security” and the general public giving up certain freedoms. While making those distinctions, however, especially through Jackson’s Novak, the points become cheesy and laughable, with Novak blindly siding with OmniCorp and making ridiculous statements that simply cannot be taken seriously. Add to that a main character that is mostly robotic for a huge portion of the film, and you have a narrative that is lacking. Suspense may be built as the mystery unfolds, but to imagine a father that can no longer go home to his family is disheartening from beginning to end and offers no real resolution or facade of a happy ending. Instead, you have conflicting forces with no one ever really gaining an advantage. But, with a glimmer of originality and a new paint job on the robot suit, “RoboCop” never quite feels like a retread, and as stated earlier, should have simply not carried the same franchise name. With glossy production value, relying less on visual effects, and Gary Oldman stealing the show, “RoboCop” is far from a failure and could even garner enough sympathy to spawn a sequel of its own. But if Gary Oldman’s not returning, than a lackluster sequel it will be.

LoneSurvivor-header2

LONE SURVIVOR // Not since “Saving Private Ryan” has war felt so real. Through the help of the real life accounts from Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell and his memoirs recounting the horrific days where he and his four-man SEAL team were engaged by a Taliban group while on a surveillance mission, the story of “Lone Survivor” breathes authenticity, creating an emotional connection akin to “Band Of Brothers” while delivering the cinematic thrills of war of Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece. Bringing the story of Michael Murphy, Matthew Axelson, and Danny Dietz to life was Marcus Luttrell’s ultimate goal following the gruesome events in Afghanistan, describing it as his divine reason for surviving. Recounting the frustrating incidents of the day, from running into a goat farmer and his sons whom compromised their mission, to communications not working in the rocky terrain, to Apache’s not being readily available when they were supposed to, it all tells like a cinematic story, full of tension and roadblocks that keep the story high paced and engaging. Sadly, the autobiographical nature of that same quality makes the film emotionally harder to watch.

Director Peter Berg captures several things that make this a successful war film. First of all, the pairing of these four men is genius, plucking some of the most talented men in the industry currently and placing them together in this “Band Of Brothers” atmosphere. Mark Wahlberg plays Luttrell and despite not being the leader of this company, Wahlberg’s presence comes off full of leadership qualities that helps him to survive. Ben Foster is another excellent choice, as he steals the show more often than not, fighting until his very last breath, which is devastating in its sound design. Taylor Kitsch and Emile Hirsh round out the company, both adhering to a certain character type and bravery that sets them apart from the rest of the group. But the way these actors play off each other is nothing short of brilliant, with a banter that comes off like real friends in high stress environments.

Another quality that Berg captures, whether the audience wants it or not, is impeccable sound design, especially in the gun fights and the moments where the guys take some hefty tumbles down the mountainside. In Berg’s “Lone Survivor”, he makes sure you hear every single gun shot wound, often with a visual to match, and be warned, this happens a lot. The focus of the battles is placed on the sound, whether it’s puncture wounds, breaking bones, or raspy breathing, Berg makes sure the audience feels as much of the pain as possible and it’s truly effective. Every time the crew rolls down the hillside, the audience cringes with every thud and crack. You wonder how the human body could have taken so much punishment. “Lone Survivor” proves the strength of the men in the U.S. military and brings Luttrell’s story to the big screen, hopefully offering him a little more solace. If anything, the true-to-life story of four men taking on anywhere from 50 to 200 enemy fighters (depending on what accounts you believe to be true), should be an inspiration for those that often derail action films for not being believable as the hero takes out hoards of enemies. War is an interesting subject for those that have never been involved in it, and with recent candid entries of cinema crossing to the front-lines in non-fiction with the documentary “Restrepo” and in fiction covering non-fictious accounts like “Lone Survivor”, the general public garners at least a glimpse of what these soldiers go through on a daily basis and develops that much more respect for the men in the wars that we do not see.

New Releases
Goodbye World
In the Blood (2014) 2-denied2-small
Lone Survivor
The Motel Life
The Pretty One
RoboCop (2014)
Small Time
Son Of God 2-denied2-small

TV Box Set
  • The Adventures of Batman
  • Breaking Bad: The Complete Series
  • Copper: The Complete Series
  • Curious George: Season Seven
  • Doctor Who: Doctors Revisited Set
  • Falling Skies: Season Three
  • The Glades: Season Four
  • Graceland: Season One
  • Highway to Heaven: Season Four
  • Law and Order: Seasons 1-5
  • The New Adventures of Superman: Seasons Two & Three
  • New Tricks: Season Ten
  • Power Rangers Turbo: Volume Two
  • Pretty Little Liars: Season Four
  • Rawhide: Season Eight
  • True Blood: Season Six
  • Workaholics: Season Four
Special Editions/Other Releases
  • Alexander: The Ultimate Cut
  • Alpha Alert
  • Barbary Coast
  • Beyond the Trophy
  • Big Joy
  • Black Out   
  • Blood Widow
  • Breaking Through
  • Breeding Farm
  • Clockwork Orange County
  • Comedy Warriors
  • Cousin Jules
  • Cowboys vs. Zombies
  • Crystal Lake Memories
  • Death Bed: The Bed That Eats
  • First Flight: A Mother Hummingbird’s Story
  • Fun in Boys Shorts
  • Ghostlight
  • Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction   2-denied2-small
  • King and Country
  • Komodo: Secrets of the Dragon
  • Life of a Gangster
  • Mirage Men
  • Orozco The Embalmer
  • Parts Per Billion   
  • Plimpton!   2-denied2-small
  • Ravenous
  • The Red Baron
  • A Time for Miracles
  • Tiny: A Story About Living Small
  • Trouble With The Truth   2-denied2-small
  • Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide
  • Wakefield Poole’s Boys In The Sand
  • Werewolf
  • What’s In A Name
  • When I Walk
  • Why Am I Single

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s