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Ultra HD : Recommended
Ranking:
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Release Date: June 18th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 2014

RoboCop (2014) - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Overview -

4K UHD Review by M. Enois Duarte
José Padilha's RoboCop (2014) is a surprisingly entertaining reimagining of Paul Verhoeven's 1987 cult action classic, emphasizing more character development and dialogue that centers on the human aspect, but although sleeker and more stylish with updated visuals, the remake-slash-reboot still feels a cold, distant, and largely humorless. Courtesy of Shout! Factory, the movie arrives on Ultra HD with a great-looking 4K HDR video, the same DTS-HD MA soundtrack but lacks any new supplements. Overall, the UHD package is Recommended
 

OVERALL:
Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Two-Disc UHD Collector's Edition Combo Pack, UHD-100 Triple-Layer Disc, BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc, Region Free (UHD only)
Video Resolution/Codec:
2160p HEVC/H.265, Dolby Vision HDR / HDR10
Length:
117
Aspect Ratio(s):
2.39:1
Audio Formats:
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 - English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo
Subtitles/Captions:
English SDH
Special Features:
Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Trailers, Blu-ray Copy
Release Date:
June 18th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

For the most part, RoboCop (2014) is a completely unnecessary, needless, and pretty much unwelcome remake, missing the subtle jabs, over-the-top gore, and darkly-satirical humor that has made Paul Verhoeven's 1987 original such a beloved favorite. However, to my shock and amazement, this mostly unwanted actioner is a surprisingly entertaining reimagining of an 80s cult classic, serving as a possible reboot of a long-dead franchise. In my estimation, this is in large part due to the talented and imaginative camerawork of Brazilian filmmaker José Padilha, deservedly known for his riveting actioner Elite Squad, who admittedly chucked Darren Aronofsky's plans for a look further into the future, supposedly with healthy input to Joshua Zetumer's script.

Making his English-language debut here, Padilha thankfully isn't afraid of pushing his modernized, CGI-aided vision of a not-too-distant future into some dark, gritty territory. Despite the PG-13 rating that will surely have Verhoeven fans skeptical and hesitant, the new movie at least remains loyal to the original's goals and ideas of an ominously impending dystopian society caught in the illusion of working towards a utopia. Only, this updated version fails to deliver Verhoeven's amazing dance between entertaining shock value and wryly subversive social commentary. In fact, Padilha's film offers a great deal more talking than action, dialogue and conversations that unabashedly remark on contemporary socio-politics. That's not to say the movie is without some shoot 'em-up and blow 'em-up fun because it definitely has its moments with Padilha's excellent design. 

It's interesting to see the narrative provide a bit more weight to people confronting, reacting to, and dealing with a future where drones safeguarding American streets are a reality. Whether it's from TV personalities feigning informational news (Samuel L. Jackson) or a well-intentioned scientist battling with the moral consequences of his creation (Gary Oldman), the plot emphasizes the human aspect of the story and uses it as the central conceit to Dt. Alex Murphy's (Joel Kinnaman) rehabilitation into RoboCop. Kinnaman is very robotic in the role, even before donning the metallic suit, but once he sports the tactical black armor, the performance works to the character's advantage. The emotional element is provided by his wife Clara (Abbie Cornish) and son David (John Paul Ruttan) grappling with the pain of their situation.

Ultimately, this is the major difference between the original and Padilha's updated vision, not only in the fact that Murphy's family plays a larger, more significant role, but also that everyone else continuously comments on the importance of the individual and base human emotions. As always, Oldman playing kind-hearted Dr. Dennett Norton, who specializes in the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers and cops, brings his A-game when constantly in verbal disagreements with OmniCorp CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton playing it cool and collected but also deliciously scheming). On the far end of the spectrum is Jackson's splendid portrayal of the media, a blend of cable news' fact-twisting, ultra-nationalist flash, and its graphic-happy hyperbole. Jackie Earle Haley is sadly a forgettable OmniCorp mercenary employee, Rick Mattox, seen mostly griping and grumbling until his final showdown.

While these may be praise-worthy qualities making RoboCop (2014) an amusing watch made by filmmakers that clearly love and respect the original, it's not enough to be its equal or even come close to the brilliance of Verhoeven's action classic. In spite of mostly following the same plotline — while solving his own attempted murder by crime boss Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow), Murphy uncovers city and business corruption — and emphasizing the human element, the film feels humorless and distant, never really hitting its emotional target. Padilha's camerawork and Lula Carvalho's photography, along with some stunning CGI visuals, keep the action moving and the tension high, but there's something dimly robotic and machinelike in the narrative as we patiently wait for the inevitable. (Movie Rating: 3/5)

Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Courtesy of Shout! Factory, José Padilha's RoboCop (2014) arrives on 4K Ultra HD as a "Collector's Edition." The Region Free, UHD100 disc is housed inside the usual black, eco-elite case with a cardboard slipcover and an accompanying Region A locked, BD50 copy on the opposing panel. At startup, the disc goes straight to an animated menu with full-motion clips and options along the bottom while music plays in the background.

Video Review

Ranking:

OmniCorp proudly introduces its latest in mechanized crime prevention to the tough streets of Ultra HD armed with a great-looking HEVC H.265 encode that offers a satisfying upgrade over the previous HD version although it's not a substantial night-and-day difference. 

Coming from a new remaster of the original digital intermediate, which was itself mastered at 2K, this upscaled 4K transfer displays a welcomed uptick in overall definition and resolution with razor-fine lines along buildings and the city streets for a majority of the runtime. We can better make out the small objects decorating the background and the lettering on screens while the stitching of clothing and the tiny details of the armored suit are more distinct and discrete. However, some of the sharpest edges, particularly during extreme wide shots, show a bit of very mild aliasing while a few other sequences reveal a weird, albeit very faint, aberration, something that looks like a moiré pattern or posterization. This is mainly seen in Sellars's office with the rock wall as the camera moves, and it is most egregious and distracting around the 90-minute mark as Dr. Norton confronts Sellars.

Outside of that, the Dolby Vision HDR presentation is in fantastic shape, boasting a spot-on contrast and balance that showers the action crisp, brilliant whites, and vividly radiant specular highlights add a sharp, tight sparkle to the armored suit and a realistic metallic sheen. Black levels are also inkier and more accurate, revealing outstanding gradational differences between the various shades and excellent delineation within the darkest, blackest areas. The teal-orange cinematography of Lula Carvalho benefits the most in this upgrade, bathing the visuals in sumptuously rich primaries, particularly the variety of reds, and a vibrant, full-bodied array of secondary hues, from the fiery oranges of explosions and gunfire to various browns and tans throughout the city and costumes. With natural, healthy facial complexions in the entire cast, the 2.39:1 image is a strong and satisfying improvement over its HD SDR predecessor. (Dolby Vision HDR Video Rating: 88/100 or 4.5/5)

Audio Review

Ranking:

After some back-and-forth comparisons, it appears that this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is the same one from the previous Blu-ray release, which is not bad and remains an outstanding track. 

Imaging feels broad and expansive throughout as various effects move between three fronts with ease while exhibiting a clean and dynamic midrange with detailed clarity and excellent room penetration. Rear activity, particularly when the screen explodes into action mode, is satisfying and immersive with outstanding directionality and flawless panning, and a few moments of subtle ambient effects further enhance the soundfield during the quieter, more character-driven segments. Dialogue is very well-prioritized and distinct in the center even during the louder, more heightened action sequences. The more enjoyable aspect of the sound design is a weighty, robust low-end that really packs a thrilling wallop to the visuals, providing a gratifying, couch-shaking impact to scenes of Murphy battling the drones and whenever he fires his trademark gun (bass chart).

Overall, this lossless mix makes for a fun and surprising feature to a remake of an 80s action classic. (Audio Rating: 94/100 or 4.5/5)

Special Features

Ranking:

For this UHD edition, the folks at Shout! Factory have ported over the same set of supplements as the previous release, and they are all housed in the accompanying Blu-ray disc.

  • Engineered for the 21st Century (HD)
    • The Illusion of Free Will: A New Vision (8 min)
    • To Serve and Protect (6 min)
    • The RoboCop Suit: Form and Function (15 min)
  • Omnicorp Product Announcement (HD, 3 min)
  • Deleted Scenes (HD)
  • Trailers (HD)

Brazilian filmmaker José Padilha made his American debut in RoboCop (2014), a surprisingly entertaining remake of an 80s cult favorite. Sleeker and more stylish with updated visuals, the reimagining of Paul Verhoeven's 1987 action classic works on its own merits by emphasizing more character development and dialogue that centers on the human aspect, but in the end, the remake-slash-reboot still feels a cold, distant, and largely humorless. Courtesy of Shout! Factory, the movie continues to uphold the law on 4K Ultra HD with a great-looking Dolby Vision HDR presentation that offers a welcomed uptick over its Blu-ray release but appears to port over the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack as before. Although lacking some new and more extensive supplements, the overall UHD package is nonetheless Recommended for fans of the remake. 

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