Being a genre classic, Robocop really needs no introduction, but I’ll give you one anyway. Director Paul Verhoeven’s film came out of nowhere and captured the hearts of sci-fi/action fans everywhere with its mix of sociopolitical commentary, wickedly dark humor, and extremely graphic violence.
The film introduces us to Murphy (Weller), an fresh-faced cop assigned to the streets of Old Detroit. On his first day of work, Murphy is viciously gunned down in the line of duty by a group of drug peddling thugs. When Murphy's remains are fused with a cyborg frame, he becomes RoboCop, the future of law enforcement. Created by OCP (a mega corporate entity with plans on building a Utopian city atop the remains of Detroit), RoboCop does his makers proud by striking fear into the hearts of lowlifes and criminals while doing wonders for the company's public image. However, when Murphy's memories come to the surface, the cyborg’s human side seeks out Murphy’s killers. Presented here in all of its uncut glory, RoboCop is every bit as fun, exciting, and entertaining as ever.
Robocop has a bit of a history on Blu-ray, as the title was first prepped for release back when the medium was launched. Reportedly that version’s transfer didn’t look much better than DVD, so the title was shelved…until now. Sadly, it’s still not quite up to snuff.
The film has the inherent softness of many of the late 80’s films (you know, that sort of dreamy, gauzy quality), so the folks remastering this one were already fighting an uphill battle. Just the same, I didn’t see much of an improvement over my Criterion Edition DVD or MGM’s prior release (as a part of The Robocop Trilogy). Sure, there are moments where the image looks crisper and more refined, but there are just as many moments where digital noise, haloes, and even a few artifacts (especially in facial detail and shadows) drag the whole thing down. I have to admit, I was pretty bummed as Robocop is one of my childhood favorites, and I was stoked to see it in all of its HD glory.
The AC-3 audio track, on the other hand, is crystal clear, loud, and doesn’t feature a hint of distortion. I only wish the image quality was half as good!
With all of the special editions of this film, and the myriad supplements kicking around, I was a bit shocked to see that only a single theatrical trailer was included as an extra, here. While I didn't expect a "catalog" title to sport any Blu-ray exclusive extras, I figured we'd at least get a commentary or two, or one of the many featurettes available on previous DVD releases. Sadly, we get nothing.
The three skulls here are more for the film than anything else. If you don't already own a copy of Robocop on DVD, then this Blu-ray release offers a slight upgrade over the standard definition releases. However, the unimpressive transfer and lack of extras hardly make it an essential purchase for anyone save for the most devoted of Robocop fans.