It is probably true to say that when Dutch director Paul Verhoeven made his first American film Hollywood did not know what hit them. His boundless enthusiasm, his disregard for playing by the rules and his propensity for extreme violence and openness in portrayal of sex would see his star shine bright for 12 years before he left and returned home to Europe. To quote, of all people, Austin Powers in Goldmember, ‘That crazy Dutch bastard’ was something of a breath of fresh air and yet Robocop would kick up a stink with its extreme violence in what was a gleeful satire and ‘Robodoc -The creation of Robocop’ is a documentary series that captures everything. Literally everything! This four part series is exhaustive going into the film almost on a scene by scene basis with contributions from pretty much everyone involved starting with Verhoeven and Peter Weller who is anything but the bombastic baddie blasting android instead looking so frail that he might not make it to the end of a sentence.
Robocop’s screenwriters were Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner who idea had started back in 1980 and took seven years to make it to the screen helped by the success of the first Terminator film. Their script went through several phases with a varying degree of studio interference but it was Verhoeven who embraced the script wholesale typically seeing the film as a warped parallel to the life of Christ – death and resurrection and there are a number of nods to the gospels (a shot where Robocop walks across a large puddle Verhoeven saw as Christ walking on water and so on – yes he really was a crazy Dutch bastard. But what is quite clear is that Robocop would not have been the film that we know and love without him.
This four part series is co-directed by Eastwood Allen and Christopher Griffiiths and are clearly huge fans of the film themselves and Robodoc is a labour of love and when we say everything is covered we mean EVERYTHING because the effects , the violence , production design et al is covered but the filmmakers have even interviewed those throwaway characters that includes those in the mock TV ads, the two street muggers shot by Robocop through the skirt of the victim they’re about to rape the gang members and the bit part actor seen on the mock TV show whose catch line is ‘I’ll buy that for a dollar’ There’s almost no one that doesn’t contribute to the film who wasn’t involved. We say ALMOST because the one obvious omission is the make up genius that is Rob Bottin the man who drew gasps with his astonishing work on The Thing for John Carpenter. We speak from personal knowledge that Bottin is elusive, extremely elusive even to those in the industry which includes Howard Berger the Oscar winning co-owner of FX shop KNB FX who has trouble getting hold of him having tried for a year when writing his excellent and award winning book Masters of Make Up so his absence here is an obvious but understandable hole.
But that doesn’t take away from what is an absolute must see series for fans of Robocop and expands the normal ‘making of’ documentary to great length and though in the second and third parts there is a little bit of dead wood and the title sequence for each show is too long, Robodoc – The creation of Robocop is one of the best behind the scenes documentaries ever made and if you’re a considering giving it a miss, well in the words of Robocop himself, #Think it over, creep!
related feature: Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct – COLLECTORS EDITION – 4K UHD / STEELBOOK / BLU-RAY / DVD & DIGITAL – disc review
Here’s the trailer for Robodoc – The creation of Robocop……