Joel Kinnaman in 'RoboCop' (Photo: Columbia Pictures)
One thing's for sure about the upgraded Crime Prevention Unit on display in the rebooted "RoboCop": the guy can move.
If you were a kid who grew up in the '80s, chances are you physically imitated Peter Weller as RoboCop at least once. Weller's movements as the resurrected Officer Alex J. Murphy were stiff and specific — he moved like, well, a robot, due to the restrictions of the extremely cumbersome costume he had to endure day in and day out. Jack Black even made a bit out of it in Michel Gondry's valentine to the VHS era, "Be Kind Rewind."
Well, the wardrobe limitations of 1987 are long gone as the new "RoboCop" showcases a suit that simultaneously gives homage to Weller's classic get-up and improves upon it, specifically in the freedom of movement it allows. The new trailer for the film shows our Robo for the 21st century (Joel Kinnaman) engaging in a training exercise that has him running, jumping, twisting and turning about as he makes short work of his targets.
It's a far cry from the bulky nightmare donned by Peter Weller, who recently spoke about his experience with the suit to Ain't It Cool News guy Harry Knowles.
"It took three hours to put on the inner suit, and another seven hours to put on the outer suit," said Weller about his first time putting on his Robo costume. "I lost my mind."
Weller soon discovered that he could barely move at all in the get-up, which effectively destroyed all the "serpentine, liquid sort of movement" that he and mime Moni Yakim had developed together before the suit had been completed.
The extreme limitations of the suit caused a lot of tension between Weller, director Paul Verhoeven, effects supervisor Rob Bottin, and screenwriter Ed Neumeier, which caused Orion exec Mike Medavoy to consider shutting down production. Luckily, Yakim was called back in, and after the suit was stripped down some, he and Weller developed a new way of moving: very slow and big, which Weller admits at first felt "phony" and "like bad opera."
Cut to 26 years later and Joel Kinnaman is allowed all sorts of movement in his Robo-suit, which starts off with a blocky, silver look that resembles the original before getting a slick, trimmed-down, and all-black upgrade. This RoboCop costume allows for speed and agility ... even though it's apparently a little stuffy in there, as revealed in an interview with the cast at Moviepilot.
"The suit is hot," admits director Jose Padilha. "That's the only thing. [Kinnaman] wants to get in and out quickly."
Kinnaman himself refers to the suit as a "torture device," but old-school costume actor Michael Keaton tells the young whippersnapper to buck up.
"Bulls---. I've seen that suit. You try wearing my Bat suit," said Keaton in reference to his turns as the Caped Crusader in "Batman" (1989) and "Batman Returns" (1992). "You've got it easy."
Keaton himself gets some nice screen time in the new "RoboCop" trailer — it's fun to watch him as OmniCorp bigwig Raymond Sellars as he sits in a conference room and brainstorms what will become the new RoboCop, created as a "product with a conscience" that America can get behind — a "robo-phobic" America, as described by outspoken TV personality Pat Novak (played by — who else? — Samuel L. Jackson).
The trailer also reveals the film's global scope as the action is put in the context of what's going on in the rest of the world and not just in Old Detroit. The opening plays like a Neill Blomkamp film as ominous images of foreign countries being patrolled by robots (including the upgraded ED-209) have an "Elysium" and "District 9" kind of vibe.
Of course, Kinnaman has one other thing that Weller lacked back in the '80s: CGI. So some of the most active shots of RoboCop in the trailer are really digital doubles that couldn't even be imagined three decades ago. And while nothing will ever replace the original "RoboCop," this newfangled model definitely looks like it has some interesting tricks up its sleeve — and in its still-cool internal leg holster contraption.
"RoboCop" opens Feb. 12, 2014.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Peter Weller
- Joel Kinnaman