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Friday, July 19, 2024

RoboCop (Limited Edition) (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)


The Film
The Video (overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements


After being killed in the line of duty by a group of thugs a hero Detroit cop is resurrected as a cyborg crimefighter who practically rids the streets of crime in a matter of weeks, but memories of his past begin to torture him and he wants to get revenge on the men who killed him in this elevated B-movie classic from the 1980s that also served as director Paul Verhoeven's Hollywood debut.

Paul Verhoeven’s (Flesh + Blood) Hollywood debut was this now enduring sci-fi visual effects classic, RoboCop, from 1987 that has a place right next to other genre films of the era such as The Terminator and Aliens. Given this is a Verhoeven film, there is a bit more camp mixed into the action, but that only serves to make the film a little more entertaining as at no time does the dystopian vision of the near future ever feel overwhelming or like it takes itself too seriously.

The film takes place in Detroit in the near future. Heroic cop Alex Murphy (Peter Weller, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai) is gunned down in the line of duty and is rescued and resurrected as part of a top-secret new program that turns him into a cyborg crime-fighting machine. RoboCop is so effective that he practically wipes out crime from the streets of Detroit within weeks, but soon his human memories begin to return, and he finds himself tortured by his past and wanting revenge on the criminals who killed him.

The film is a glorified B-movie that is good despite that and the cheesy trappings that could have derailed it at any moment thanks to Verhoeven’s uncanny ability to wrangle a ridiculous film into something much better than it ought to be. He would do it again with films such as Total Recall and Basic Instinct.

The release reviewed here contains the director’s cut and theatrical cut of the film as a compilation of scenes from the edited-for-TV cut of the film. The difference between the theatrical and director’s cuts are small but seem mostly to be about more lingering frames on the gore shots and so forth, bringing it up to a grand total of about one minute longer than the theatrical cut.

The Video

This is edition of RoboCop comes from a 4K restoration from the original camera negative by MGM transferred in 2013 and approved by Paul Verhoeven. This new release ups the ante on Arrow’s 2019 Limited Edition Blu-ray release of this film. If you felt that was the definitive version, then you’ll need to reassess that. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, encoded in HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) with Dolby Vision HDR with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio has even more detail and exceptional grain structure. All through this there is a beautiful layer of organic grain and even in the darker scenes where the grain level rises a bit, it doesn’t overwhelm the image or become noisy. Look at chapter 3 where Murphy and Lewis enter the abandoned factory. The shadows are nuanced, the grain level rises, but it never gets murky or overwhelming, detail remains solid and extended. You can still make out the individual bricks on the walls in the background and so on. Then the wide color gamut of Dolby Vision adds an additional layer of dimensionality to the image, adding real ‘pop’ to the vermillion blood splatters while the specular highlights are good off the blood, Murphy’s armor when he becomes RoboCop, and in the lights in the ER, for example. This is a nice transfer and the best this film has ever looked.

The Audio

RoboCop gets a new Atmos mix for this release, and it brings a new level of realism to the sound. Again, in Chapter 3, you can hear dripping water coming from overhead, gunshots resonate nicely through the channels, and the score from Basil Poledouris sounds rich and airy.  In comparison, the lossless 5.1 loses something, but remains a solid choice for those who want to watch this with a surround mix engaged. The theatrical cut also comes with two isolated tracks, the original score and original theatrical mix. There are some differences, as has been pointed out to me by our very own Editor at Large Chris Chiarella, for example, on the theatrical mix you will hear the OCP music sounding like it is meant to be coming from the TV in the promotional video, compressed, distorted, but in the original score track none of those post-production remix tricks are applied. Original theatrical 4.0 mixes are also included, and all mixes (except the isolated tracks) are available for both cuts.

The Supplements

  • SteelBook packaging.
  • 44-page Limited Edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Omar Ahmed, Christopher Griffiths and Henry Blyth updated from the 2019 release.

Director’s Cut

  • Commentary with Paul Verhoeven, Jon Davison, and Ed Neumeier
  • Commentary with Paul M. Sammon
  • Commentary with Christopher Griffiths, Gary Smart, and Eastwood Allen
  • The Future of Law Enforcement: Creating RoboCop (1080p; DV; 00:16:51) – A newly filmed interview with co-writer Michael Miner, where he discusses the genesis of the project and the film’s enduring legacy
  • RoboTalk (1080p; DV; 00:32:08) – A newly filmed rountable conversation between Robocop co-writer Ed Neumeier and filmmakers David Birke (writer of Elle) and Nicholas McCarthy (director of Orion Pictures’ The Prodigy).
  • Truth of Character with Nancy Allen (1080p; DV; 00:18:26) – A newly filmed interview with star Nancy Allen on her role as Officer Anne Lewis.
  • Casting Old Detroit with Julie Selzer (1080p; DV; 00:08:20) – A newly filmed interview with casting director Julie Selzer on how the film’s ensemble cast was assembled.
  • Connecting the Shots with Mark Goldblatt (1080p; DV; 00:11:06) – A newly filmed interview with RoboCop’s second unit director and frequent Paul Verhoeven collaborator Mark Goldblatt.
  • Analog with Peter Kuran and Kevin Kutchaver (1080p; DV; 00:13:10) – An all-new featurette on the special photographic effects by VCE Inc., including new interviews with Peter Kuran and Kevin Kutchaver.
  • More than Machine: Composing RoboCop (1080p; DV; 00:12:04) – A newly filmed tribute to composer Basil Poledouris, featuring film music experts Jeff Bond, Lukas Kendall, Daniel Schweiger, and Robert Townson.
  • RoboProps (1080p; DV; 00:12:50) – A Newly filmed tour of super-fan Julien Dumont’s collection of original RoboCop props and memorabilia.
  • 2012 Q&A with the Filmmakers (1080p; DV; 00:42:37) – This Q&A features director Paul Verhoeven, stars Peter Weller and Nancy Allen, writers Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner, and associate producer Phil Tippett. It was shot at UCLA in 2012.
  • RoboCop: Creating a Legend (1080p; DV; 00:21:12) – An archive featurette from 2007 exploring the creation of the RoboCop suit including interviews with Paul Verhoeven, Peter Weller, Ed Neumeier, Jon Davison, and others.
  • Villains of Old Detroit (1080p; DV; 00:17:01) — An archive featurette from 2007 profiling the bad guys in the film, including interviews with Paul Verhoeven, actors Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, Ray Wise, Miguel Ferrer, and others.
  • Special Effects: Then & Now (1080p; DV; 00:18:23) — An archive featurette from 2007 exploring the stop motion and matte effects in the film, including interviews with Paul Verhoeven, Phil Tippett, matte painter Rocco Gioffre, ED-209 designer Craig Hayes, and others.
  • Paul Verhoeven Easter Egg (1080p; DV; 00:00:38) – In this brief extra from 2007, Paul Verhoeven explains his cameo appearance in the film.
  • Deleted Scenes (1080p; DV; 00:02:52):
    • OCP news Conference
    • Nun in the Street Interview
    • Topless Pizza
    • Final Media Break
  • The Boardroom: Storyboard with Phil Tippett Commentary (1080p; DV; 00:06:04) – In this archive extra from 2001, Phil Tippett goes into detail on how the scene where ED-209 malfunctions in the boardroom was executed.
  • Director’s Cut Production Footage (4K; DV; 00:11:38) – Raw footage from the filming of the gore scenes exclusive to the Director’s Cut, including original production audio of Paul Verhoeven directing action from offscreen.
  • Trailers (1080p; DV):
    • Theatrical Trailer 1
    • Theatrical Trailer 2
  • TV Spots (1080p; DV):
    • TV Spot 1
    • TV Spot 2
    • TV Spot 3
  • Image Galleries (1080p; DV):
    • Production Stills
    • Behind the Scenes
    • Poster & Video Art

Theatrical Cut

  • Audio commentary recorded in 2001 featuring director Paul Verhoeven, executive producer Jon Davison, and co-writer Ed Neumeier.
  • Isolated Scores:
    • Composer’s Original Score
    • Final Theatrical Mix
  • Edited-for-TV Version w/optional English SDH subtitles (1080p; DV; 00:18:35) – A brand new compilation of alternate scenes from two edited-for-television versions, including outtakes newly transferred in high definition from recently unearthed 35mm elements.
  • Split Screen Comparisons:
    • Theatrical vs Director’s Cut
    • Theatrical vs TV Cut

The Final Assessment

This is the definitive home video release of RoboCop. Arrow have provided a release on 4K that looks and sounds great, has beautiful 4K artwork, and a boatload of bonus features. Highly recommended.

RoboCop 2-disc limited edition is out on 4K Ultra HD on April 12, 2022 from Arrow Video

  • Rating Certificate: R (Theatrical Cut) | Unrated (Director’s Cut)
  • Studios & Distributors: Orion Pictures | MGM Home Entertainment | Arrow Video
  • Director: Paul Verhoeven
  • Written By: Edward Neumeier | Michael Miner
  • Run Time: 103 Mins. (Director’s Cut) | 102 Mins. (Theatrical Cut)
  • Street Date: 12 April 2022
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (HDR10 Compatible)
  • Primary Audio: English Dolby Atmos
  • Secondary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 | English DTS-HD MA 4.0 | English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH

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After being killed in the line of duty by a group of thugs a hero Detroit cop is resurrected as a cyborg crimefighter who practically rids the streets of crime in a matter of weeks, but memories of his past begin to torture him and he wants to get revenge on the men who killed him in this elevated B-movie classic from the 1980s that also served as director Paul Verhoeven's Hollywood debut. RoboCop (Limited Edition) (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)