RoboCop [1987]

When it arrived on the big screen in 1987, Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop was like a high-voltage jolt of electricity, blending satire, thrills, and abundant violence with such energized gusto that audiences couldn't help feeling stunned and amazed. The movie was a huge hit, and has since earned enduring cult status as one of the seminal science fiction films of the 1980s. Followed by two sequels, a TV series, and countless novels and comic books, this original RoboCop is still the best by far, largely due to the audacity and unbridled bloodlust of director Verhoeven. However, the reasons many enjoyed the film are also the reasons some will surely wish to avoid it. Critic Pauline Kael called the movie a dubious example of "gallows pulp," and there's no denying that its view of mankind is bleak, depraved, and graphically violent. In the Detroit of the near future, a policeman (Peter Weller) is brutally gunned down by drug-dealing thugs and left for dead, but he survives (half of him, at least) and is integrated with state-of-the-art technology to become a half-robotic cop of the future, designed to revolutionize law enforcement. As RoboCop holds tight to his last remaining shred of humanity, he relentlessly pursues the criminals who "killed" him. All the while, Verhoeven (from a script by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner) injects this high-intensity tale with wickedly pointed humor and satire aimed at the men and media who cover a city out of control. --Jeff Shannon

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