Part Man. Part Machine. All Classic 80s Sci-fi Action! Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop returns to home theaters with what can only be described as the definitive special Limited Edition release featuring the Unrated Director's Cut, Theatrical Cut, the silly neutered Television Cut and is loaded with hours of bonus features. Courtesy of Arrow Video, the 80s cult action classic transfers to 4K Ultra HD as a two-disc collector's package with an impressively beautiful Dolby Vision HDR presentation of both versions of the film and an awesome Dolby Atmos track. Loaded with the same excellent collection of bonus features as the previous release but also includes a poster and booklet, this UHD limited edition package makes for a Highly Recommended addition to the 4K library.
Here is Matthew Hartman's take from the 2019 Arrow Limited Edition:
"As a kid of the 80s, RoboCop hits close to home. Growing up within striking distance of Detroit, Robo was a local hero. Aside from some peak Tigers baseball, there wasn't a whole lot to cheer for in Detroit back then - but we had a futuristic cyborg! Watching this movie takes me back to that grand era where an intensely violent movie like this could be marketed down to kids thanks to a bad-ass NES game, a cool cartoon, a line of comics from Marvel, and an entire toy line that let you put rolls of caps in the figures' backs to simulate gunfire! I took my RoboCop figure to friggen' school as a six-year-old and popped off those caps on the playground! - There's no way kids could do something like that today. The 80s was a grand era indeed.
"Sadly the sequels couldn't maintain quality, but in their own ways, they still manage to entertain. I admittedly am a RoboCop 2 defender and RoboCop 3 is a hoot in a so-bad-it's-amazing sort of way. I have a lot of love for this franchise. I've always hoped for another proper entry but after the earnest but less than amazing remake and Neil Blomkamp's recent departure from what was reported as a proper sequel to this original - I fear we'll never get something with this level of amazing detail, humor, and ultra-violence. At least not anything that stands alongside this original's quality. But that's okay - nothing can take away from this film's imprint on popular culture - and my childhood!"
Here is M. Enois Duarte's take from the 2014 Mastered in 4K Edition:
"It's funny looking back at something like Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop and watching it in complete awe of the shockingly prophetic vision of the future being displayed. As is the common thread and theme in most of Verhoeven's movies, the sci-fi actioner was intended as a darkly subtle commentary on contemporary culture. [...]
"From an original script by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner, the film takes a cynical view of [...] a future so deeply commercialized and desensitized to violence that the public has turned into submissive, obedient subjects of corporations slowly overreaching their function and power. In this world, they transform civil services, like the police department, into disposable products or into literal machines that follow orders without question. Essentially, everyone is forgetting that they are toying with people's lives, unconsciously ignoring the human factor when placing more importance on the "bottom line." This is where RoboCop comes in. Part machine and part man, the cyborg cop is the literal representation of the story's theme, where human workers become expendable and are easily replaced. It's to Peter Weller's amazing credit and talent, providing the needed emotional gravitas, that the character feels genuine and reminds us of the human element involved.
"Amazing still, the real genius behind this 1987 box-office hit is Verhoeven's ability to sell the plot's satirical view of Regan-era American culture as a strait-laced, shoot-'em-up action spectacle. As he did years later with Starship Troopers, the Dutch filmmaker wonderfully balances camp and vulgarity for the blackest of comedic effect with the excessive displays of ultra-violence. It could be said his approach is the product of 80s "more is better" mentality, but that would also ignore how his style is meant as commentary, not simple imitation. Besides, times have sadly not changed much with the advent of superhero movies. If anything, we indulge in the excess of consumer products more than ever, and with "Reality" television, the internet and social media being the norm, we seem to be experiencing a dumbing down. Verhoeven's RoboCop is a thoughtfully penetrating glimpse at the worst traits of modern society, making it an excellently enjoyable satire that remains as relevant today as ever before."
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop cleans up the streets of Detroit courtesy of Arrow Video as a two-disc 4K Ultra HD Limited Edition box set. Inside an attractive cardboard box featuring new cover art, a pair of triple-layered UHD100 discs are housed in a black keepcase with a center spindle holding the Director's Cut disc while the opposing panel comfortably holds the Theatrical Cut disc, and both are joined by six collector's postcards and a sticker. The box also comes with a double-sided poster of the newly commissioned artwork, and an 80-page softcover book featuring two analytical essays, exhaustive production notes and various color photos. The wealth of special features is spread between the two UHD discs, which go straight to the menu screen with full-motion clips and music playing in the background.
The Verhoeven classic relocates to the crime-ridden streets of Ultra HD, equipped with a fresh and outstanding HEVC H.265 encode. According to the liner notes, it was struck from the same director-approved 4K restoration of the OCN used for Arrow's 2019 Blu-ray release. But back and forth comparisons undoubtedly give this UHD edition the win, looking cleaner and sharper overall with a more refined grain structure that's largely consistent throughout. Granted, this is noticeably more pronounced and thicker during the optical effects with the ED-209 droid, and those same sequences have not aged well, looking comparably soft and poorly resolved. Nevertheless, this is to be expected and easily forgiven as inherent to the source. The rest of the native 4K transfer is in tip-top shape, exposing better-defined lines and sharper details in the buildings, furniture and clothing, especially the minute, tiny features of RoboCop's body armor.
Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the Dolby Vision HDR presentation also arrives with excellent contrast and brightness balance, bathing the action in accurate, inky blacks and dark midnight shadows. Nighttime exteriors offer arguably some of the most impressive moments by maintaining strong visibility within the darkest corners while specular highlights provide a crisp, radiant pop in the various light fixtures, a realistic sheen along metallic surfaces and a tight, fiery glow in the explosions, allowing for better detailing with the hottest spots of the frame. Likewise, primaries appear more full-bodied and animated, bathing the visuals in that classic gaudy 80s energy, and secondary hues are bolder with improved variation, furnishing the action with a good deal of warmth. Facial complexions are highly revealing with healthy, accurate tones in the entire cast, making this 4K video a marked improvement boasting a lovely cinematic appeal.
The theatrical cut of the film is in relatively the same shape as the director's cut, and I did not detect any significantly discernable differences between the two versions. It could be argued that the theatrical cut shows a slightly more refined grain structure, but any such dissimilarities are minute and trivial enough to ultimately moot. On the other hand, the edited-for-television cut definitely looks its age despite being an HD presentation, showing blown-out highlights, flat black levels and poorly resolved while bathed in distracting chroma noise. If for nothing else, it is almost like enjoying a VHS copy of the film. (Dolby Vision HDR Video Rating: 86/100)
Further enticing fans, the fine folks at Arrow not only port over the same great selection of audio options from their previous release, but they also supply the cult actioner with a surprisingly excellent Dolby Atmos soundtrack that impressively and effectively widens the soundfield without ever feeling forced or artificial. In fact, the echoing effect of gunfire, explosions, and debris lightly ringing throughout the room and above amazingly sounds natural, especially in the scenes at the steel mill. Aside from those moments, the ceiling channels are relatively quiet, preserving the action across the fronts where it really belongs. However, the surrounds are occasionally employed for a few minor atmospherics, generating a satisfying soundfield, but Basil Poledouris's score benefits most with some light bleeding into the rears while the front soundstage exhibits excellent balance, directionality and acoustical detailing in the upper ranges. Dialogue reproduction is pristine and precise at all times, and the low-end provides a welcomed oomph and mild impact that nicely and appropriately complements the visuals, making for an awesome object-based mix for an 80s cult action classic. (Dolby Atmos Audio Rating: 82/100)
For this UHD edition, Arrow Video ports over the same outstanding collection of supplements as their 2019 Blu-ray release and spread across both UHD discs.
Disc One - Director's Cut
Disc Two - Theatrical Cut
"With a cynical, satirical eye on Reagan-era American culture, Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop imagines a dystopian future where a corporation owns and controls a police department. With a memorable performance by Peter Weller as the titular character, the thoughtfully penetrating film remains a wildly entertaining actioner."
Courtesy of Arrow Video, the 80s cult action classic relocates to the crime-ridden streets of Ultra HD equipped with a beautiful 4K Dolby Vision HDR presentation and an awesome Dolby Atmos audio option, delivering a notable upgrade over its HD SDR predecessors. Loaded with the same excellent collection of bonus features as Arrow's Blu-ray release but also includes a poster and booklet, this two-disc UHD limited edition package makes for a highly recommended addition to every collector's 4K library.
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