Event Report: RoboCop: 25th Anniversary Screening
The mid-1980s and early 1990s were a big time for the film industry in Dallas, TX. I would say it was the most prosperous in the city’s history. The Studios at Las Colinas were booming with business from movie productions like Silkwood, Talk Radio, and more.
One of the biggest and most celebrated films to come out of the Dallas area during this period was Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop.
The Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF) used their 2012 event as the perfect time to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of RoboCop. The celebration took place at the historic Texas Theatre where police caught Lee Harvey Oswald after the JFK shooting. The establishment now features some first run screenings but focuses on independent projects, special events, and revivals of old movies.
A red carpet walk by members of the cast and crew of the movie kicked off the event. Actors Peter Weller, Angie Bolling, and Jesse Goins all greeted members of the press by answering questions and posing for photos. Executive producer Jon Davison, co-producer / writer Ed Neumeier, and writer Michael Miner were also in attendance.
I had the opportunity to speak with a few members of the cast and crew who walked the red carpet. I asked each of them why they thought RoboCop is considered a classic and became such an important part of film history.
“It’s an indelible story about resurrection,” Peter Weller, who played Murphy / RoboCop in the first and second films, simply remarked.
“It started the whole genre of this type of science fiction film. It was the first one with its black humor and the violence. That gave it staying power. [Also,] the special effects seem primitive [now,] but it’s still scary. There’s still that tension and fear,” stated Angie Bolling, who played wife Ellen Murphy in all three theatrical RoboCop movies.
"It set the standard for whatever came after. So many films that came after were big action films that actually had storylines. That rotoscope shot we did was one of the longest shots since Hitchcock. There were a lot of great cinematography and film elements that were done. I think it reflected for the first time the underlying feeling people were having about what was going on in the world. It was the sign of the times in a comic book setting," shared Jesse Goins, who starred as Joe P. Cox in the film.
"It was one of the first movies to capture the graphic novel sensibility of filmmaking. We got there first. What followed were 'Iron Man' and every other graphic novel that’s ever happened." commented writer Michael Miner.
"He's the character of a man who becomes this machine. You feel sorry for him but you also want to be him. Everybody wants to be a knight in shining armor and powerful. [Also,] some of the social satire has lasted over the years. I'm very pleased with that," writer / co-producer Ed Neumeier declared.
The floor seating in the auditorium was practically filled to capacity. The crowd of movie fans, film festival coordinators, and Dallas Film Society members was buzzing with excitement as Artistic Director James Faust took the stage to introduce the film while wearing a RoboCop helmet with visor. As the film began, the crowd exploded with applause.
People hooted and yelled enthusiastically as each member of the attending cast hit the screen. There was clapping and approving hollers as RoboCop took down the bad guys. It was the perfect atmosphere to see a classic genre film in.
After the credits rolled, Mark Walters of BigFanBoy.com and Dallas Comic-Con took the stage to bring cast and crew up for a question and answer session. Peter Weller, Jon Davison, Michael Miner, and Ed Neumeier talked amongst themselves and answered questions from the crowd for around 30 minutes. They addressed the themes, the shooting conditions, and the social commentary of the film. The subject of the remake of the movie came up and no one seemed to have a problem with it except Peter Weller. One thing they all agreed upon was how nice it would be to make money off of it if they stick close enough to the original film.
RoboCop withstands the test of time as a movie. The themes and social satire still hold up. Although some of the special effects were stop-motion, they didn’t distract from the still-relevant issues we deal with in regards to media, corruption, privatization, capitalism, and human nature. It’s a film with something to say to audiences even 25 years later.
Sony Pictures will be distributing MGM's RoboCop remake, directed by Jose Padilha, helmer of the two Elite Squad films. Strike Entertainment partners Eric Newman and Marc Abraham are producing. Josh Zetumer wrote the script.
Look for the flick in theatres on August 9th, 2013.
Eric Shirey is the founder and former editor of Rondo Award nominated movie news websites MovieGeekFeed.com and TheSpectralRealm.com. His work has been featured on Yahoo! , DC Comics, StarWars.com, and other entertainment websites. Eric has interviewed and worked with actors like Harrison Ford, Brooke Shields, Kenneth Branagh, Gerard Butler, Brendan Fraser, Selena Gomez, and many more. His current work can be found on ersink.comersink.com.
Photos courtesy of Cameron Warren
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