Robocop (2014)

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Formulaic and derivative actioner which lacks the bite of the original, and for which there was no need.

Where was the tongue in cheek jibe at modern day excesses?  Where was the finger given to the MTV (I guess now YouTube) generation?  Where was the commentary on the fact that huge corporations are inherently evil?  Paul Verhoeven’s original had all this and more.

For one, it had a believable lead role, not even Michael Keaton or Gary Oldman could rescue this.  Jackie Earle Haley’s character was fun, but Samuel L Jackson’s talk show spots didn’t really work as a prop to hang the plot on.

Not to mention that the way that Alex Murphy becomes Robocop has changed, the EDs are never explained – they’re just there, and Robocop never says “Serve the public trust, protect the innocent, uphold the law.”

I suppose comparisons with the original are unfair and shouldn’t really be made; but when a “reboot” is this poor it’s hard not to.  A missed opportunity, and a waste of everyone’s time.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

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I’ve not been aware of anything else that the Russo brothers have done, and, apart from the sequence on the ship at the start of the film which gave me a headache because the camera was all over the place, the direction was fine.  Nothing particularly fancy or inventive, but not ham fisted either.  Just fine.  However, the direction was probably helped by a great story.

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The Hateful Eight (2015)

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Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film (not just setting the historical context, it actually announces it at the beginning of the film) continues his love for the Western.  Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, in a similar way to The Good, The Bad and the Ugly; but rather than depicting the dynamic between three main characters, The Hateful Eight tries it with, well, eight.  Not as successfully IMO.

A further link with Sergio Leone’s masterpiece is the Ennio Morricone score, which incidentally also links it with The Thing (1982).  That’s not all; let’s face it OB’s character is essentially MacReady (Kurt Russell’s character in The Thing) complete with corks hanging from his hat and snow glare sunglasses. Morricone score is generally excellent, but occasionally strays into odd Hammer Horror territory, particularly in the very first shot.

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