Nec­es­sary up­date

Brazil­ian di­rec­tor Jose Padilha makes a roboCop for our

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MUSIC - By Gina Mcin­tyre

Early on a re­cent evening on the edge of Beverly Hills, Brazil­ian film­maker Jose Padilha was break­ing into song. Seated in the ball­room of a lux­ury ho­tel with Swedish ac­tor Joel Kin­na­man, the star of his new US$120mil (rM400mil) re­boot of RoboCop, the di­rec­tor was feel­ing mirth­ful about the loom­ing re­lease of his first Hol­ly­wood pro­duc­tion.

Padilha made a name for him­self with his 2002 doc­u­men­tary Bus 174, which chron­i­cled a grue­some hi­jack­ing in rio de Janeiro, and a pair of ul­tra-vi­o­lent ac­tion movies – Elite Squad, about a rio spe­cial­forces unit, won the Golden Bear award at the 2008 Berlin Film Fes­ti­val; its se­quel, Elite Squad: The En­emy Within, ranks as one of the high­est-gross­ing Brazil­ian films in his­tory.

RoboCop, a retelling of the 1987 sci-fi satire about a Detroit po­lice of­fi­cer who’s trans­formed into a sen­tient law en­force­ment ma­chine, stands to in­tro­duce both Padilha and Kin­na­man to mil­lions more movie­go­ers.

But the di­rec­tor, look­ing like an in­tel­lec­tual rad­i­cal in an olive green skull cap and sneak­ers, ac­knowl­edged that his ap­proach to the fu­tur­is­tic story might sur­prise some view­ers. Padilha saw the film as an op­por­tu­nity to make a think­ing man’s ac­tion movie, a ve­hi­cle through which to com­ment on such hot-but­ton po­lit­i­cal is­sues as the moral­ity of drone war­fare and amer­i­can mil­i­tary in­cur­sions in the Mid­dle East.

“This movie is not the reg­u­lar su­per­hero Hol­ly­wood movie. It just ain’t,” said Padilha, 46. “I want to take the idea that I see be­ing em­bod­ied in the orig­i­nal RoboCop, that the au­to­ma­tion of vi­o­lence opens the door to fas­cism.”

So just how ex­actly did he man­age to get that idea into a big-budget stu­dio ac­tion movie?

“I fought the law, and the law won,” the rio na­tive sang. “In our case, the law lost.”

Of­ten, the pass­ing of time can bur­nish the rep­u­ta­tion of sci­encefic­tion and hor­ror films, but in the case of RoboCop, the orig­i­nal was hailed as ground­break­ing upon its re­lease.

Di­rected by Dutch film­maker Paul Ver­ho­even from a script by Ed­ward Neumeier and Michael Miner, the pic­ture starred Peter Weller as alex Mur­phy, a cop slain by drug deal­ers who is re­born in­side the suit of a cy­borg in dystopian Detroit and quickly be­gins to rid the city’s streets of crime, in­spir­ing dis­sen­sion in the ranks of the po­lice force.

amid the in­sta­bil­ity, roboCop starts to re­mem­ber as­pects of his life as Mur­phy and be­fore long un­cov­ers the sin­is­ter aims of Omni Con­sumer Prod­ucts, the mono­lithic com­pany that cre­ated him.

Pair­ing wild so­cial satire and coal black hu­mor with co­pi­ous amounts of graphic vi­o­lence and state-ofthe-art stop mo­tion spe­cial ef­fects, RoboCop ar­rived near the end of the rea­gan era as an au­da­cious, r-rated in­dict­ment of cor­po­rate greed and cor­rup­tion (roger Ebert de­scribed it as a “thriller with a dif­fer­ence”).

It was nom­i­nated for academy awards for its edit­ing and sound, and it won a spe­cial achieve­ment Os­car for its sound-ef­fects edit­ing.

RoboCop’s suc­cess sparked two less-well-re­ceived sequels from other di­rec­tors (the last of which was re­leased in 1993 and saw ac­tor robert Burke re­place Weller), and the film launched Ver­ho­even down a path of craft­ing glee­fully sub­ver­sive sci-fi, movies such as To­tal Re­call and Star­ship Troop­ers, though more re­cently he’s re­turned to mak­ing dra­matic films in the Nether­lands.

In the years since its re­lease, Ver­ho­even’s RoboCop has grown in es­teem. Cri­te­rion Collection is­sued its own edi­tion of the movie, which is rou­tinely cited as one of the best ac­tion films ever made.

The idea of re­mak­ing it sur­faced some years back; in 2008, Dar­ren aronof­sky, wor­ried about the sta­bil­ity of rights holder MGM, aban­doned his at­tempt at a new RoboCop af­ter pen­ning a screen­play for the film.

Padilha first se­ri­ously pon­dered a RoboCop re­make dur­ing a 2011 meet­ing with MGM ex­ec­u­tives about other projects the newly re­launched pro­duc­tion en­tity had in the pipe­line.

The Brazil­ian had no­ticed a poster for Ver­ho­even’s orig­i­nal movie, and by the end of the ses­sion he’d pitched his con­cept for mod­ern­iz­ing the story.

“I re­mem­ber that ev­ery sin­gle film they pre­sented to me, I in­stantly knew I didn’t want to make it,” Padilha said. “I’m lis­ten­ing, and I’m (think­ing) RoboCop, that’s what I’m go­ing to do. I have an idea for that.’

“So at the end of the meet­ing ... I pitched the idea. Two days later, I got a call from my agent, say­ing, ‘I don’t know what you did, but they want to do RoboCop with you.’ It was a good thing that it came into be­ing this way in­stead of it be­ing a stu­dio al­ready hav­ing an idea about what they want to make from the get-go. It was the film­maker say­ing, ‘let’s make this, and here’s my idea for it.’”

Im­pos­si­bly lean, with a fond­ness for e-cig­a­rettes, the 34-year-old Kin­na­man said he was ini­tially re­sis­tant to the idea of star­ring as alex Mur­phy.

as a fan of the orig­i­nal film, he ex­pected a new ver­sion might not have the same teeth. But the ac­tor, best known to amer­i­can au­di­ences as twitchy de­tec­tive Stephen Holder in the TV crime drama The Killing, was swayed by what the am­bi­tious Brazil­ian aimed to achieve.

“I’d seen his films, and they all had a very strong so­cial and po­lit­i­cal point of view, and he had a vis­ual style that was both gritty and po­etic, and the act­ing was top notch,” Kin­na­man said.

“He told me the vi­sion of this story that he wanted to tell us­ing the con­cept of RoboCop and why he felt that it was such a smart con­cept to bring in to­day. I was amazed by it. The only thing that was a lit­tle sus­pect about it, I was won­der­ing, ‘How the hell was he go­ing to get a stu­dio to do this movie?’”

“There is a rea­son why you can pull that off with roboCop and you can­not pull that off with other su­per­heroes, there’s a spe­cific rea­son that has to do with the hero him­self,” Padilha re­sponded. “The stan­dard model for a su­per­hero movie is you get a char­ac­ter that the au­di­ence wants to be like. Kids want to be Iron Man. Who doesn’t? He gets all the girls, he’s smart as hell, has fun and puts on this suit, and he kicks ass.

“Spi­der-Man jumps around, Bat­man has the Bat­mo­bile. He can be Bat­man and he can stop be­ing Bat­man. and those screen­plays _ some are great, some are not _ but they are all about cre­at­ing iconic scenes and get­ting a very charis­matic ac­tor and get­ting kids to go with the char­ac­ter. No one wants to be roboCop, not even alex Mur­phy.” – los angeles Times/ McClatchy-Tri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

RoboCop is cur­rently play­ing in cin­e­mas na­tion­wide.

di­rec­tor Jose Padilha (cen­tre, black cap) on the set of roboCop, star­ring Joel Kin­na­man. (Kerry Hayes/Columbia Pic­tures/MCT) new and im­proved: Kin­na­man, best known for his role in the gritty crime drama The Killing, is the up­dated roboCop.

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