I tend to stay away from script reviews. Scripts go through multiple revisions, the movie can then undergo changes while filming, and then it can be further revised in the editing room. The script is rarely a bible where every sentence and plot beat has to be followed to the letter. That being said, I trust the word of HitFix‘s Drew McWeeny. He’s covered this business for well over a decade, and he’s also worked as a screenwriter. So when he went on Twitter yesterday and took apart the script for the RoboCop remake, it’s worth our attention. To put it as lightly as humanly possible, Mr. McWeeny did not care for the screenplay.
Hit the jump for what he had to tweet about the script. The film, directed by Jose Padilha (The Elite Squad) stars Joel Kinnaman, Hugh Laurie, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Jay Baruchel, Abbie Cornish, Michael K. Williams, and Jackie Earle Haley. RoboCop opens August 9, 2013.
Here are McWeeny’s tweets about the script for the Robocop remake:
I tried to read the “Robocop” remake, but 20 pages in my nose started bleeding and I forgot my name. #nobueno #reallynobueno
I’ll share this one detail. In the film, when Murphy is turned into Robocop 1.0, it’s described “a high-tech version of the ’80s suit.” Then they show a focus group scene where criminals laugh at the design. “He looks like a toy from the ’80s!” So they redesign him to look “meaner” as Robocop 2.0, who passes focus group approval. So they not only make sure to include the original design, they also point out it’s dated and stupid. *facepalm*
Hold onto your sides for more hilarious “Robocop” details. They outsource his construction to China. #seriously
And we meet the ED-209s in the field in Iran, where they’re used to subdue suicide bombers. #ineedallthedrinksnow
Short version: this script makes my stomach hurt very, very badly.
Ahhh… now they just dropped Robocop 3.0 onto an Al Queda training camp to see what he does.
“He should be programmed to incapacitate in all scenarios.” “Agreed. Let’s keep him PG-13, Dr. Norton.” No. No. No. No.
By page 54, they are already onto Robocop 4.0, who looks like a “cop on steroids painted metallic blue.”
Oh, god… oh dear god… Robocop is a Transformer. He goes from “social mode” to “combat mode” and back. Full transformation.
I’m going to go stand in my backyard and scream at the moon for a while. My brain needs a shower.
Write it down. Page 55, the “Robocop” remake beat me. I’m done. I can’t hurt more than this.
Okay… the two “best” lines in the script. First up is at the unveiling ceremony for Robocop in Detroit, from a TV reporter covering it. “I think it’s safe to say that Alex Murphy is now part man, part machine, ALL COP!” Yes, I too remember the original poster, asshat. Second, after the traumatic first meeting with his father, Alex’s son retreats to the apartment of Lewis, Murphy’s male partner. The scene ends with the action line “David sits, catatonic, looks at the TV — MGM REMAKE TBD.”
Good god… it just keeps topping itself. It’s like someone wrote a script scientifically fine-tuned to destroy me. Someone shows Pope, head of the OCP project, some mock-ups for Robocop action figures. “Are you kidding? I wouldn’t buy that for a dollar!” Yeah, that just happened. NOT SO FUNNY NOW, IS IT?!
When this thing hits theaters, people are going to call up Len Wiseman’s “Total Recall” on the phone and apologize for being so mean. “I’m sorry, ‘Total Recall.’ I had no idea how bad things could get. You’re starting to look like a masterpiece right about now.”
I’ll say this: once the script stops all the winky-winky crap and just starts telling a story, it’s not terrible. But it’s way too late. If you can get past Robocop The Transformer, there are some interesting action beats. And I’m sure Padilla will direct the hell out of it. But overall? Ouch. Ouch. Ohpleasedon’t. Ouch. And a big side order of ouch.
Reading his comments, I’m surprised at the comparison to the Total Recall remake. Len Wiseman‘s remake is as bland and pointless as it gets, but its only winking callback to the original is the three-breasted hooker (a reference that makes absolutely no sense in Wiseman’s film since mutation is present nowhere else). Also, I’m a bit confused at the Transformer comparison because based on McWeeny’s comments, the Robocop remake sounds a lot more like Iron Man in terms of constantly evolving the suit. It also seems like the writers are desperately trying to replace the original’s brilliant social commentary with weakly breaking the fourth wall.
However, like I said, it’s always tough to know the final product based solely on the script. There are so many changes on the way to the theater, so maybe the remake of Robocop will turn out alright. I think it’s got a great cast, but my major concern is Padilha. I’ve heard so much love for Elite Squad and its sequel, but I think the first one is terrible, and I have no desire to see the second film. They should show Elite Squad in filmmaking classes to show why voiceover should be used very carefully or else it will spin out of control and destroy your movie. There may also need to be a course where they teach why people shouldn’t remake Paul Verhoeven movies.