So this Robocop reboot's been through the ringer, huh? First...well, I can't even claim to know when "first" this project came about, but we can all agree that Darren Aronofsky was the first big name to be attached to the film, right? As curious as we all are to see what his re-imagining would be, his deal fell through, and now it's up to Jose Padilha, director of the highly-regarded Elite Squad films, to take the character and make him fresh for a new generation.
Bizarrely, part of that reboot apparently extends to the actual look of Robocop, as the star of the reboot, Joel Kinnaman (of The Killing and Safe House) apparently decided to spill a few beans to MTV recently. Here's an excerpt of the interview which will likely be getting Kinnamen in trouble with the PR people at MGM:
RoboCop is going to be a lot more human," Kinnaman said. "The first movie is one of my favorite movies. I love it. Of course, Verhoeven has that very special tone, and it’s not going to have that tone. It’s a re-imagination of it. There’s a lot of stuff from the original. There are some details and throwbacks, but this version is a much better acting piece, for Alex Murphy and especially when he is RoboCop. It's much more challenging."
Kinnaman went on to say that because the character will have more human characteristics, we'll see more of his actual face. "It's not going to be jaw action. They’re still working on the suit and how it’s going to look, but the visor is going to be see-through," he said. "You’re going to see his eyes."
Obviously we, as connoseurs of Robocop, can have mixed feelings about this. I always thought that the visored look of Robocop was part of the appeal of the character. If we work backwards from the western tradition, which consider the eyes as the window to the soul, the visor of Robocop is perfectly placed: when his human soul is obscured by the machine, his eyes are covered, but near the end of the film, as Murphy begins to reassert himself as a man and as a human being, the eyes are revealed once again, thus placing his humanity front and center. I'm not sure that a costume choice that doesn't change the appearance of Alex Murphy drastically between his human self and his cyborg incarnation will be as powerful as something that ensures that we feel that it's almost two different characters.
More and more, I've lately come to feel that Verhoeven is the preëminent auteur when it comes to modern satire. I'm not sure that anyone will come to match Robocop, Total Recall, or Starship Troopers when it comes to pure, modern madcap insanity and criticism of the society in which we all live. The man seems to have internalized the lessons of Catch-22 (the book, not the movie) and made them real via the visual medium. We can only hope that the new Robocop has some kind of satire to it, but I worry that it'll be some PG-13 action-adventure that loses all of the subtlety of the original film. We'll find out in 2013, I suppose!