Paul Verhoeven is responsible for two of the greatest science fiction films of all time: Total Recall and Robocop. In the 1980s and 1990s, Verhoeven embraced the satirical aspects of these two stories, and turned the two films into giants. Unfortunately, both films have gotten reboots in the past few years, both of which failed miserably.
What caused the two films to fail? This is a situation that has plagued many recent franchise reboots. All of the elements exist in the rebooted films that was presence in the originals, but still audiences fail to embrace them. According to Verhoeven, although they seem to be rehashes of the same film, they are drastically different. In a recent interview with Collider, Verhoeven says that the thing that the reboots are missing is a question of style and tone. Basically, they took themselves entirely too serious:
“Somehow they seem to think that the lightness of say Total Recall and Robocop is a hindrance. So they take these somewhat absurd stories and make them much too serious. I think that is a mistake. Especially in Robocop when he awakens they gave him the same brain.
He’s a horribly injured and amputated victim, which is horrifying and tragic from the very beginning. So we didn’t do that in Robocop. His brain is gone and he has only flashes of memory and needs to go to a computer to find out who he even is.
I think by not having a robot brain, you make the movie much heavier and I don’t think that helps the movie in anyway. It becomes more silly or absurd, but in the wrong way. Both those movies needed the distance of satire or comedy to situate it for audiences. Playing it straight without any humour is a problem and not an improvement.”
There isn’t any word on sequels for Robocop or Total Recall in the foreseeable future.
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