Robocop (1987): Limited Edition (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review + Screenshot Comparison + TV Spot
Studio: Arrow Video
Release Date: July 17th, 1987 (theatrical)
November 26th, 2019 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 103 mins (theatrical)
104 mins (director's cut)
95 mins (tv cut)
Region Code: FREE
Picture: 1080p (1.85:1 aspect ratio) (theatrical and director's cut)
480p (1.33:1 aspect ratio) (tv cut)
Sound: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0
English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH
Slipcover: Yes (hardbox)
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Kurtwood Smith, Ronny Cox, Miguel Ferrer, and Jesse D. Goins
Written by Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner
Directed by Paul Verhoeven
Rating: R (strong bloody violence and language) (theatrical)
Not Rated (strong graphic bloody violence and gore and language) (director's cut)
Detroit - in the future - is crime-ridden, and run by a massive company. The company have developed a huge crime-fighting robot, which unfortunately develops a rather dangerous glitch. The company sees a way to get back in favor with the public when a cop called Alex Murphy is killed by a violent robbers. Murphy's body is reconstructed within a steel shell and named RoboCop. Though RoboCop is very successful against criminals, soon he has to face the very gang who killed him. Detroit - in the future - is crime-ridden and run by a massive company. The company has developed a huge crime-fighting robot, which unfortunately develops a rather dangerous glitch. The company sees a way to get back in favor with the public when policeman Alex Murphy is killed by violent robbers. Murphy's body is reconstructed within a steel shell and called RoboCop. Though RoboCop is very successful against criminals, he soon has to face the very gang who killed him.
What can I say that hasn't already been said about Robocop. Everything from the casting to the writing to the effects are all perfect. There is never a misstep during the entirety of the film's run time and it is easily one of my favorite films of all time.
Instead of rehashing the film's plot and what I think of the film and its themes, I am going to tell you about the first time I saw the film.
My parents owned a pub in the town where we lived. Located inside of a strip mall, the pub was a moneymaker for the family for many years. I remember going there all the time while my parents worked the bar and the grill. I have very fond memories of this pub and wish that we still owned it.
Anyways, one day my mother got a call from the cook saying that he couldn't make in that day. At the time there was no one else to call, so my mother got me dressed (I have a younger brother but have no recollection of where he was during this time) and away we went. My mother set me up at a table where I could see the TV and told my uncle, who owned the bar with us, to stay clear of anything that would not be right for a child of my age (I was eight).
After my mother made me something to eat, she stayed in the kitchen because the place was kind of busy. My uncle decided to go to the video store that was in the same strip mall as the pub and grab some movies. When he got back, he popped a VHS into the tape player and pressed play.
For the next hour and forty-two minutes, my mind was blown by what I was seeing onscreen. I had never seen anything like this before. The cursing, the graphic violence, the comedy. I was confused but couldn't take my eyes off the screen. I had just witnessed Robocop for the first time and it definitely would not be the last.
After the rush stopped, my mother came out to check on me. She asked me what movie we watched as she knew my uncle was going to the video store. I told, with the excitement of someone experiencing something for the first time, Robocop. I could see the anger on my mother's face. "Did you say Robocop?", she asked. I nodded my head with glee. She told me to stay where I was and that she needed to talk to my uncle in the back.
A little while later my mother and my uncle come back out from the back and he is kind of giggling a bit. I knew she was mad at him but he didn't seem to care. He showed my eight-year-old self an extremely violent R-rated flick and he would do it again given the chance.
When we got home later that night, my mother and father had a talk and then they talked to me about what I had seen. I wasn't bothered by the violence. I had found it to be exciting and I really wanted to see the film again. Of course, I didn't get all the satire in the film, but I loved it all the same. My parents wanted to make sure that I was scarred by what I had seen and I wasn't. I asked them if I could see other R-rated films and every once in a while they would test the waters. They showed me films like Lethal Weapon, Commando, the Rambo films and none of them affected me in a bad way. I was free to rent R-rated films that they deemed ok and my love of film began to grow from the R-rated seed planted by my first viewing of Robocop.
Since then I have seen the film a ton of times and have bought almost every home video release that has been made available. I think that the film is still just as biting in its satire as it was in back when it was first released.
THE PICTURE AND THE SOUND
Back in 2014, MGM releases a blu-ray of Robocop with a brand new 4K remaster. This thing looked great. Detail and clarity were extremely high and the whole thing looked like something that was shot on film (which it was).
Now, here comes the 2019 Arrow Video release and it turns out they have used the same master but they have used better encoding to make the picture pop just a bit better than the 2014 disc. Grain is more refined and detail is a bit better. At the end of the day it is going to be up to the person buying the set. If they have the 2014 disc and don't really care about the extras, then stay with that disc. I would give the Arrow release a slight edge because of the encoding but most people don't care one way or the other when it comes to that.
The sound, however, is another beast altogether. Every release of Robocop on home media, with the exception of the analog releases (VHS and Laserdisc), have had a 5.1 surround sound mix. While this mix doesn’t sound bad, it is not how the film was released in theaters in 1987. The film was released in stereo and that is how the film is presented here on the disc as the default choice to boot. The track sounds great. Dialogue is crisp and clear and the film's score by the late Basil Poledouris sounds so good. I had a lot of fun listening to the film for the first time this way.
THE SCREENSHOT COMPARISONS
These comparisons are between the 2019 Arrow Video Blu-ray (TOP) and the 2014 MGM Blu-ray (BOTTOM)
THE PACKAGING (UPDATED: 12/5/2019)
I was sent a check disc for this review and can not review the packaging. I can say that this is one of Arrow Video's Limited Editions so it comes with all the goodies we have become accustomed to over the years.
There is also a SteelBook edition being released the same day. Disc based content will be the exact same, but the goodies will be different. There will be a booklet and nothing else.
UPDATE (12/5/2019) Below I have added packaging shots from his awesome set!
|Front of slipbox and blu-ray case|
|Back of slipbox and blu-ray case|
|Front of booklet|
|Back of booklet|
|1st three postcards|
|2nd three postcards|
Both discs are REGION FREE
DISC ONE: DIRECTOR’S CUT (1h 43m, HD)
Paul Verhoeven, Jon Davison, and Ed Neumeier
Paul M. Sammon
Christopher Griffiths, Gary Smart, Eastwood Allen
The Future of Law Enforcement: Creating Robocop (16m 51s, HD) A newly filmed
interview with co-writer Michael Miner, where he discusses the genesis of the project
and the film’s enduring legacy.
RoboTalk (32m 8s, HD) A newly filmed roundtable conversation between Robocop
co-writer Ed Neumeier and filmmakers David Birke (writer of Elle) and Nicholas
McCarthy (director of The Prodigy).
Truth of Character with Nancy Allen (18m 26s, HD) A newly filmed interview with
star Nancy Allen on her role as officer Anne Lewis.
Casting Old Detroit with Julie Selzer (8m 20s, HD) A newly filmed interview with
casting director Julie Selzer on how the film’s ensemble cast was assembled.
Connecting Shots with Mark Goldblatt (11m 6s, HD) A newly filmed interview
with Robocop’s second unit director and frequent Paul Verhoeven collaborator Mark
Analog with Peter Kuran and Kevin Kutchaver (13m 10s, HD) An all-new featurette
focusing on the special photographic effects by VCE, Inc, including new interviews with
Peter Kuran and Kevin Kutchaver.
More Man Than Machine: Composing Robocop (12m 4s, HD) A newly filmed
tribute to composer Basil Poledouris, featuring film music experts Jeff Bond,
Lukas Kendall, Daniel Schweiger, and Robert Townson.
Roboprops (12m 50s, HD) A newly filmed tour of superfan Julien Dumont’s
collection of original Robocop props and memorabilia.
2012 Q&A With The Filmmakers (42m 37s, SD) This Q&A features director
Paul Verhoeven, stars Peter Weller and Nancy Allen, writers Ed Neumeier and
Michael Miner, and associate producer Phil Tippett. This Q&A was shot in 2012 at UCLA.
Robocop: Creating a Legend (21m 10s, SD) An archival featurette from 2007
exploring the creation of the Robocop suit including interviews with
Paul Verhoeven, Peter Weller, Ed Neumeier, Jon Davison, and others
Villains of Old Detroit (17m, SD) Archival featurette from 2007 profiling
the bad guys of the film, including interviews with Paul Verhoeven, Ronny Cox,
Kurtwood Smith, Ray Wise, Miguel Ferrer, and others.
Special Effects: Then and Now (18m 21s, SD) Archival featurette from 2007
exploring the stop motion animation and matte effects in the film, including
interviews with Paul Verhoeven, Phil Tippett, matte painter Rocco Gioffre,
ED-209 designer Craig Hayes, and more.
Paul Verhoeven Easter Egg (39s, SD) In this brief archival extra from 2007,
Paul Verhoeven explains his cameo appearance in the film.
Deleted Scenes (2m 50s, SD, 1.33:1) These scenes can be viewed separately or
all at once with the PLAY ALL feature.
OCP News Conference
Nun in the Street Interview
Final Media Break
The Boardroom Storyboard with Phil Tippett Commentary (6m 2s, SD, 1.33:1)
In this archival extra from 2007, Phil Tippett goes into detail on how the
scene where the ED-209 malfunctions in the boardroom was executed.
Director’s Cut Production Footage (11m 34s, HD) Raw footage from the filming
of the gore scenes exclusive to the Director’s Cut including
production audio of Paul Verhoeven directing the action offscreen.
Theatrical Trailer #1 (1m 38s, HD, 1.78:1)
Theatrical Trailer #2 (1m 23s, HD, 1.78:1)
TV Spots: (Can be viewed separately or all at once with PLAY ALL feature)
TV Spot 1 (31s, SD, 1.33:1)
TV Spot 2 (1m 2s, SD, 1.33:1)
TV Spot 3 (31s, SD, 1.33:1)
Production Stills (108 images)
Behind the Scenes (84 images)
Poster and Video Art (55 images)
DISC TWO: THEATRICAL VERSION (1h 42m, HD)
Audio Commentary: Recorded in 2001, this track features director Paul Verhoeven,
executive producer Jon Davison, and co-writer Ed Neumeier.
Composer’s Original Score: Watch the film while listening to
Basil Poledouris’ score as it was originally recorded before being mixed and edited
for the final film, including alternate and extended cues.
Final Theatrical Mix
Play (1h 35m, SD, 1.33:1)
Play with English SDH
Robocop: Edited for Television (18m 35s, HD) Brand new compilation of
alternate scenes from the two edited-for-television versions, including
outtakes newly transferred in HD from recently unearthed 35mm elements
Split Screen Comparisons:
Theatrical vs Director’s Cut (4m 2s, HD) Side by side comparisons of four scenes.
Theatrical vs TV Cut (20m 16s, HD) Side by side comparison showing
how the theatrical cut was edited for television including
alternate takes and edits as well as dubs for profanity.
This edition is packed with so many goodies that it is hard to pick which are my favorites, but I have to so…
I love the two interviews that Ballyhoo Motion Pictures and Daniel Griffiths have done for this set. Both interviews are very well done and offer a wealth of information.
I also love everything that is on Disc Two. Seeing the theatrical cut for the first time in HD was a real treat as that was the first version of the film that I saw. The two isolated scores are priceless with the original score winning out based on the alternate cues. But…
If I were forced to pick my favorite feature on this set it would Robocop: Edited for Television. This compilation is just packed with alternate scenes, multiple dubs done for the TV versions, and weird ways to censor the violence that I ended up watching this thing twice. Ever since I was a kid, edited-for-tv versions of films have always intrigued me. I have always loved watching R-rated films on TV while growing up just to see how the film would change. I think that edited-for-tv versions of films should be included on every release. If you grew up in the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s then you will have seen at least a few of these versions of some of our favorite films. I think that editing a film for tv is a lost art and the time and effort that was put into these versions should be praised.
MISSING FROM THIS EDITION:
As thorough as this edition is, there are a few omissions of special features that were found on the 2014 blu-ray that are not included in this edition of the film.
-Flesh and Steel: The Making of Robocop (36m 55s, SD)
-1987 Featurette: Shooting Robocop (7m 59s, SD, 1.33:1)
-1987 Featurette: Making Robocop (8m 1s, SD, 1.33:1)
SummaryRobocop is one of my favorite films of all time and this edition of the film is worth the asking price. You get three versions of the film, two isolated tracks for the score, and a wealth of new and old features that cover just about everything a Robocop fan could ever want. This is another Arrow Video Limited Edition that just might make my Best of list at the end of the year.