Dutch director Paul Verhoven takes us to “Old Detroit,” which is so crime-riddled it needs to be “pacified.” The evil Omni Corporation, a military contractor, is hired to do the job. To subdue the populace, they create the Enforcement Droid 209 (ED-209) and the Robocop, a man-machine hybrid made from titanium metal and what was left of officer Alex J. Murphy after he is murdered by thugs. When I researched the reviews on my cellphone, I found that “Robocop” was going to play five times “tomorrow” (5/14). Like “Scarface,” this movie is probably playing somewhere every minute of the day. You will enjoy the 33-year-old movie’s predictions of what TV news and advertising would look like in the future. Valeta and I still talk about “Robocop News” today.
Michael Wilmington 80/100 (good reviewer for the Hollywood Reporter and Chicago Reader)
Despite a level of lurid violence that may offend many, this movie has a motor humming inside. It's been assembled with ferocious, gleeful expertise, crammed with humor, cynicism and jolts of energy. In many ways, it's the best action movie of the year.
Roger Ebert 80/100 (good reviewer whose name was licensed by the website RogerEbert.com, which has many bad reviewers (score - 32 total))
“There is a moment early in "RoboCop" when a robot runs amok. It has been programmed to warn a criminal to drop his gun, and then to shoot him if he does not comply. The robot, an ugly and ungainly machine...
Because the scene surprises us in a movie that seemed to be developing into a serious thriller, it puts us off guard. We're no longer quite sure where "RoboCop" is going, and that's one of the movie's best qualities.
The broad outline of the plot develops along more or less standard thriller lines. But this is not a standard thriller. The director is Paul Verhoeven, the gifted Dutch filmmaker whose earlier credits include "Soldier of Orange" and "The Fourth Man." His movies are not easily categorized. There is comedy in this movie, even slapstick comedy. There is romance. There is a certain amount of philosophy, centering on the question, What is a man? And there is pointed social satire, too, as the robocop takes on some of the attributes and some of the popular following of a Bernhard Goetz.
Oddly enough, a lot of the robocop's personality is expressed by his voice, which is a mechanical monotone. Machines and robots have spoken like this for years in the movies, and now life is beginning to copy them; I was in the Atlanta airport a few weeks ago, boarding the shuttle train to the terminal, and the train started talking just like robocop, in an uninflected monotone. ("Your-attention-please-the-doors-are-about-to-close.")
I laughed. No one else did. Since the recorded message obviously could have been recorded in a normal human voice, the purpose of the robotic audio style was clear: to make the commands seem to emanate from a pre-programmed authority that could not be appealed to. In "RoboCop," Verhoeven and Weller get a lot of mileage out of the conflict between that utterly assured voice and the increasingly confused being behind it.
The classic sci-fi flick got a user rating of 87%, but a critic rating of only 67% a target-rich environment for exposing bullshit critics.
Peter Stack 50/100 (retired poor reviewer in the San Francisco Chronicle, which has all poor reviewers (total score -15) except one good one, Mick LaSalle (score +16))
It's a violent yet occasionally funny film - thanks to some inventive gags that pop up - and it hits some of the same blood-splashed chords as ‘Terminator’.
Dave Kehr 50/100 (retired mediocre reviewer in the Chicago Tribune, which has always had mediocre reviewers, except Michael Phillips, who is a bad reviewer (score -14))
Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop is a stylish piece of work that leaves a sour aftertaste.