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  • Rev Horror

RoboDoc: The Creation of Robocop

Eastwood Allen & Christopher Griffiths (2023)

A four hour documentary, broken into four parts, about the 1987 cult action/sci-fi classic Robocop.


CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS


RoboCop has long been lauded as a much deeper movie than it appears on the surface. As a commentary on Reagan's America, corporate greed, or violence in media, it's practically unparalleled. As the film's director, Paul Verhoeven says, it's not, after all, a science fiction movie: it's a movie about America as it existed in 1987. The man who would later go on to skewer the military industrial complex with Starship Troopers did the same with the overall American culture by way of a robotic peace officer who works for an evil business conglomerate that wants to take over private control of the city of Detroit's police force. RoboDoc, on the other hand, is a documetnary that seeks to tell the story of the making of that movie.


And what a fucking great documentary. It captures the entire spirit of the classic film while telling fascinating stories that cover every square inch of the filmmaking process. It's really impossible to explain exactly how broad this documentary is, and somehow it is completely exhaustive without being even a little exhausting. Directors Christopher Griffiths and Eastwood Allen (who directed and produced Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story respectively) do a phenomenal job with the film, interviewing even bit characters and seemingly every single member of the crew to deliver an astonishing and all-encompassing picture of an iconic American movie.


RoboDoc may be the most comprehensive documentary I've ever seen, managing to break down everything from the writing to the casting, the special effects to the score recording and sound editing. With hours of fascinating behind-the-scenes footage and dozens of fantastic interviews, the documentary is the ultimate love letter to what, for me, is a childhood classic. Ironic, I suppose, as the film itself is the quintessential parody of America and its cultural obsession with violence.


It's insane that there were no computers used to make the film at all. The sequence in the doc where they discuss "Robovision," or the robotic perspective of Robocop himself that was futuristic as hell in 1987, is amazing. Seeing how these special effects wizards were able to bring this to film despite having nothing that you would imagine that you would need to actually do it is incredible. And Rob Bottin and Phil Tippett, on the same movie? You've got to be fucking kidding me.


Perhaps the most impactful part of the film is the realization of just how easy movies are to make today compared to previous eras in the industry. Listening to modern directors talk about using Premiere or Final Cut sounds tedious and overwhelming, but doing it without any of the fancy modern gadgets? It's a task that it's hard to imagine was even possible with the technology of the era. And yet, RoboCop exists, despite the challenges and limitations. What would've cost millions to do in 1987 can be done on your iPhone today, as evidenced by CapCut and the rise of TikTok as an edited video social media platform. It's really an incredible change.


The creativity that went into all areas of Robocop is really unbelievable to watch. The contrast between everyone else trying to make a scifi flick with some great violence and the Dutch madman Paul Verhoeven making a Police Jesus movie is insane. Somehow, it all works, and every bit of every single cast member's intentions come across on-screen. RoboDoc dissects every aspect of the production of the film, and it's absolutely excellent.


Who this movie is for: Documentary fans, Classic Scifi lovers, Robot police officers (or "cops")


Bottom line: It says something about RoboDoc that I couldn't wait for it to end... so I could go watch RoboCop again with all of my new information! It's really an incredible documentary, possibly the best doc I've ever seen about a single movie. It's exhaustive and complete, and you really get the feeling that it would've been impossible to cover even a single second more about the production of Verhoeven's classic. This is an incredible watch for anyone who's a fan of documentaries in general. If you like RoboCop, it's an absolute must-see. Check out the first episode, streaming on Screambox on August 29th.

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