Padilha talks RoboCop remake
José Padilha directed Bus 174 (Ônibus 174) (Filmstalker review), Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite) (Filmstalker review) and Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within, and now he's leapt over to Hollywood and is set to direct the planned remake of RoboCop. To some it may sound a fair leap, but to others the connections are there and we look set to get something tougher, darker, more violent and perhaps even more political.
What does Padilha say though? Well he's been talking about the film of late as well as who he would like to play his RoboCop...or perhaps not.
"I love the sharpness and political tone of RoboCop , and I think that such a film is now urgently needed. But I will not repeat what [Paul] Verhoeven has done so clearly and strongly. Instead I try to make a film that will address topics that Verhoeven untreated. If you are a man changes into a robot, how do you do that? What is the difference between humans and robots developed? What is free will? What does it mean to lose your free will? Those are the issues that I think."
That's what he said through Variety and Latino Review about his version of RoboCop, and he went on to talk about why he would make something in Hollywood and his response was pretty good. He said that he'd make the films he wanted to make anywhere he could, and if that meant in Hollywood with all the means that Hollywood offers him, then why not? The key in his response though was where he said that:
"I try to make movies that I like, that I feel and I deal with social problems involved."
Which gives us another clue for the new RoboCop. It doesn't stop there though, speaking at a screening of Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within through The Playlist he had more to say about the direction of the film:
"I never approached ['RoboCop'] by looking at the first one, and asking myself what do I keep and what do I take away...I just looked at the concept of 'RoboCop,' and the concept of 'RoboCop' is very, very interesting. RoboCop is not a superhero - he is not a superhero. He is a man that's turned into something else, by technology, and by a certain political perspective that's being criticized in Verhoeven's film, and by the media, too. So that idea, of a man that's turned into something else for some purpose, appeals to me on its own regardless of the first film."
He went on to say:
"I'm like recreating the story based on that concept, that brilliant concept of changing a man with technology, automated systems, which is sort of a metaphor for what's going on in society anyways."
So we'll be looking into much more how people are being changed by technology around them and how the access to information and continuous media is changing all our lives and perceptions.
What's especially interesting though is that Padilha is not going to turn away from the media criticism that the first film featured, and indeed that quite a few Paul Verhoeven films have, and Padilha thinks that this could be even more relevant these days:
"I think the media needs a little criticizing now, as it did in the '80s, don't you? Just look at what happened in the Bush era with the lack of criticism we've seen from most of it at the beginning of the Iraq invasion, and the sort of patriotic approach of the media that you couldn't say anything against it. It's high time we got a little acid criticism of that in my film - in 'RoboCop'"
It's not just that it's how the media these days has now become the attention grabbing, twenty second turnaround, shock-horror headline that twists words and ignores facts in order to make for a more audience figure grabbing story than the other news channel. Anything for figures and to hell with fact and investigative journalism.
That's the kind of thing that will work well with the media angle of RoboCop and it sounds as though Padilha isn't forgetting that thread, even when he admits his version is going to be different from the original.
I do like this about remakes. If they are going to happen then take them in a different direction, give them to some creatives who aren't a "safe pair of hands" who would just deliver a Hollywood film of the same ilk conforming to those two mantras, "bigger" and "more". RoboCop doesn't need that, it needs a look at itself and the modern world and where it can fit, and from the sounds of what Padilha is saying, he's found that fit.