In 1987, director Paul Verhoeven introduced us to the police officer Alex Murphy and his eventual transformation into the cyborg RoboCop. The gory, R-rated action flick was a box office success, earning $53.4 million domestically on a $13 million budget and spawning multiple sequels. In 2014, director José Padilha signed on to revisit the franchise, rebooting the project with Joel Kinnaman as the titular cyborg. With a production budget pegged at almost 10 times the original, the new RoboCop was both a critical and popular dud, making only $58.6 million domestically.
Speaking to Collider about his new film Elle, Verhoeven revealed that yes, he does try to watch all of the sequels or remakes of his movies, and he has a few theories about what the RoboCop reboot could have done differently.
“Somehow they seem to think that the lightness of say Total Recall and RoboCop is a hindrance,” Verhoeven told Collider. “So they take these somewhat absurd stories and make them much too serious. I think that is a mistake.”
Verhoeven also called out one specific difference between the original and the reboot that, he says, made the new movie unnecessarily dark.
“Especially in [the new] RoboCop, when he awakens, they gave him the same brain,” Verhoeven said. “He’s a horribly injured and amputated victim, which is horrifying and tragic from the very beginning. So we didn’t do that in RoboCop. His brain is gone and he has only flashes of memory and needs to go to a computer to find out who he even is. I think by not having a robot brain, you make the movie much heavier and I don’t think that helps the movie in any way. It becomes more silly or absurd, but in the wrong way. Both those movies needed the distance of satire or comedy to situate it for audiences. Playing it straight without any humor is a problem and not an improvement.”
Read the full interview with Verhoeven at Collider.