It really is fascinating viewing, when a documentary breaks down a movie from an idea in someone’s head, to getting the idea picked up by a studio, the casting, the special effects right through to the reviews upon release and subsequent toy line and McDonalds toys. When that particular movie is Robocop, the Paul Verhoeven directed ultra-violent, social satire, piece of 80’s magic, then take my money and colour me excited.
The superbly titled RoboDoc is a four-part series, that’s currently available on the Icon Film Channel, but soon to be released on DVD, is how I wish all movie documentaries could be. The amount of detail is staggering, as blah hold your hand through the entire journey of the making of the sci-fi classic. It starts off with writers Edward Neumeier and Michael Milner, dreaming of creating an antihero influenced by Phillip K Dick and Judge Dredd. Before long they begin forming an idea for a robot cop whilst working on Blade Runner. With interviews with all the main players, the movie moved forward very quickly when Dutch director Paul Verhoeven jumped on board and casting began. We are offered a fascinating insight into what could have been, as casting could have been very different with household names such as Christopher Reeve, Nicholas Cage, Sam Jones and even Arnold Schwarzenegger being thrown around to play the title role. But it was Peter Weller who ultimately ended up in the role and the rest is history. RoboDoc dives headlong into every backstage story, incorporates every deleted scene and outtake as it breaks down the movie scene by scene. Weller recounts tales of hours spent putting on the suit, whilst Clarence Boddicker himself- Kurtwood Smith, recalls his difficult relationship with the man in the suit, who insisted on being called “Robo” on set. There’s also a host of poignant archive footage of the late Miguel Ferrer and Ray Wise with everybody involved recalling their time on set with the pair.
But aside from the weird and wonderful stories that come from behind the curtain, RoboDoc also offers an intriguing peak into 80’s filmmaking techniques, where practical effects and stunts were not always safe, authorised or even legal in some cases. This was also a time when studios weren’t particularly fond on dishing out too much cash, preferring quantity of quality, which results in a very bizarre situation where the yet to be iconic Terminator theme by Brad Fiedel accompanies the Robocop trailer. Once the movie was in the can however, they also had to battle the X rating they were initially given, forcing some drastic cuts, which are back on full display here for our pleasure.
RoboDoc is the most complete analysis of an absolute classic movie, perhaps the most complete analysis of any movie in fact and zips by in four very enjoyable parts, which are absolutely worth your time. From the words of Peter ‘Murphy’ Weller himself “There’s nothing like Robocop” and RoboDoc emphasises that fact in the best possible way….Chris Andrews
The four-part series RoboDoc – The Creation of Robocop will begin streaming weekly episodes exclusively on the Icon Film Channel from 2nd October. It will be followed by the Blu-ray Collector’s Edition on December 18th and TVOD/EST from January 1st 2024.