RoboDoc: The Creation Of RoboCop


Reviewed by: Donald Munro

RoboDoc: The Creation Of RoboCop
"This has been a huge undertaking on the part of Eastwood Allen and Christopher Griffiths."

In recent years Paul Verhoeven's Hollywood films have been going through something of a critical revaluation. Flesh + Blood is now being appreciated as an allegory of Nazi Germany, Martin (Rutger Hauer) as Hitler, the Cardinal (Ronald Lacey) Goebbels and Agnes (Jennifer Jason Leigh), complicit in her own rape, the March Violets. Starship Troopers is a parody of totalitarian propaganda. Someday Showgirls may be seen as a cutting critique slashing at the Hollywood system and the American Dream. Everyone can have their piece of apple pie as long as they are willing to exploit and abuse.

RoboDoc documents the filming of RoboCop, Verhoeven's satire on the privatisation and militarisation of policing and corporate America's fascistic tendencies.

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At almost five hours long, what you get to see is an almost shot for shot 'making of' documentary. It starts at the beginning with script writing and production through to filming, editing and then release. This has been a huge undertaking on the part of Eastwood Allen and Christopher Griffiths. They have tracked down interviews with most of the cast and crew. The most notable omissions are the late Miguel Ferrer, who played Bob Morton, and the late Daniel O'Herlihy, who played the Old Man. All of the interviewees come across well. They all have engaging stories and interesting snippets of information. They paint a detailed picture of how the film changed as it was being made, how the script altered in response to the actors' interpretation of it, how the actors responded to the unexpected physical demands of the film.

Some of the ground that RoboDoc covers is retrodden quite a lot. With so many interviews there is a considerable quantity of overlap between accounts. The most iconic shots and sequences from RoboCop are repeated frequently, which by the end can get a little tedious. This is the most thorough and comprehensive 'making of' documentary that I have seen. In all, RoboDoc is a fascinating insight into, not just the the making of RoboCop, but filmmaking in general.

What RoboDoc doesn't do is place RoboCop in context. In documenting the fractured nature of the interpersonal relationships on set, it does not go back and look at the problems during the filming of Flesh + Blood and the clash of cultures between European and Hollywood film making. While it is stated many times that RoboCop is satirising the militarisation of American policing and America's corporate culture, there isn't much on the milieu that it is criticising. It doesn't describe what was going on in policing at the time in terms of the war on drugs, the use of military vehicles and the tenfold increase in the use of SWAT teams. It doesn't talk about the increasing dominance of laissez-faire Chicago School economics.

In terms of cultural effect, RoboCop's fan-base, sequels, comics. and computer game are discussed, but not in much depth. In the 36 years since the film was released there have in fact been nine computer games, including the upcoming AAA RoboCop: Rogue City. What was the effect of Verhoeven bringing eurowar sensibilities to the Hollywood action film? Could Hans Gruber have plummeted to his death if Dick Jones (Ronny Cox) hadn't taken the dive first?

Ultimately RoboDoc is made by fans for fans and in that it is successful. From a fan's point of view it has a lot of material that is new and interesting.

Reviewed on: 07 Oct 2023
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RoboDoc: The Creation Of RoboCop packshot
A journey into the making of the seminal sci-fi movie RoboCop (1987).

Director: Eastwood Allen, Christopher Griffiths

Starring: Edward Neumeier, Michael Miner, Jon Davison, Paul Verhoeven, Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Ray Wise, Kurtwood Smith, Ronny Cox, Miguel Ferrer

Year: 2023

Runtime: 298 minutes

Country: UK


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