Ok first off, please excuse the crap title, I really couldn’t think of a better one.
I finally got to watch the new version of Robocop and I have to say it’s actually a pretty good film. I’m not going to go into depth about the film and hopefully there won’t be any severe spoilers. But if you haven’t seen the film yet then maybe you’ll want to watch it first.
Here’s the trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INmtQXUXez8
I have to say, when I first heard they were making a re-boot I was annoyed. Robocop is a classic and I felt it shouldn’t be touched. It’s like when I heard that they were going to re-make American Werewolf in London; luckily so far I think that one’s on hold.
So despite this I was pleasantly surprised. The people that made it obviously cared for the original and instead of going for a straight out copy they put a new spin on it and I think for the most part it works. They even kept the original music which I believe was a very wise move. But for me it still felt a little bland, especially towards the end. And I started to wonder why this was.
You could say it was because it wasn’t original but I don’t think this is a valid point. You only have to look at the Batman franchise to see that if it’s done well it can be re-booted even if the 1989 version was great.
So I started to just think about the script and why the original just felt so much more exciting. What I realised is that one of the problems with this new version is that there isn’t a clear and precise baddy. Add to this the fact that the baddies aren’t really that bad. I mean, yes they weren’t the sort of people you’d like to invite to a dinner party but their actions never really felt nasty, like really nasty.
I suddenly remembered a tip from Blake Snyder’s brilliant screenwriting book “Save the cat”.In it he mentions that when you have a hero you have to make the villain twice as nasty as the hero is good. Robocop re-boot didn’t do this. The villians were just your average baddies. For another example of how to do it right, look at the Rocky movies, specifically Rocky 4 and Ivan Drago.
Here we have an enemy that seems impossible to beat. In every way he seems better then Rocky. He’s taller, faster, stronger, he has no personality so it feels like Rocky really is up against a Robot. We see him kill Rocky’s friend Apollo Creed, so we know what he’s capable of. Making the baddy really, really bad makes us root for our hero more. We don’t know how he’s going to survive but he has to, it keeps us watching,.
If we look at the original baddy in Robocop, Clarence Boddicker we as an audience get to see how nasty this guy is within about the first twenty minutes of the movie. He kills Alex Murphey in the most horrific way and for no reason at all other than he hates cops. He could of injured him and walked away. But no he wants to kill him but not before torturing him first.
Here is some clips of Clarence doing what he does best, being nasty and bad
So within the first quarter of the film we have a villain that we hate, we really, really want him to die in the most painful way possible. But we also know it’s not going to be easy. This is such a simple tool in screenwriting but it was completely missed in the latest Robocop.
The new film has got essentially the same plot but because of this fundamental flaw I found that the film ended up a little bland.
So to sum up, if you’re going to make a film with a villain, make sure he/she is the most nasty piece of work you can imagine. Unless you’re making a deep and meaningful film, in which case the baddy has to have some background to why he/she is such a nasty piece of work.
Hope this was useful and if you have any thoughts on this please get in touch.
Till next time.