RoboCop [Limited Edition] – Blu-ray Review
Film Title: RoboCop
Release Date: 1987
Rating(s): R / NOT RATED (Director’s Cut)
Runtime: 103 minutes / 103 minutes
Region Coding: Region A
Distributor: Arrow Video
Audio Formats: DTS- HD MA 2.0, 4.0 & 5.1
Aspect Ratio(s): 1.85:1
Version Reviewed: 2019 Blu-ray Limited Edition
Blu-ray Release Date: 11/26/19
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Cast: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O’Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer, Robert DoQui, Ray Wise, Felton Perry, Paul McCrane
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Full Blu-ray Tech Specs at bottom
“RoboCop” was a 1987 action/crime film mixed with pure science fiction. It was directed by Paul Verhoeven, best known for directing films like The 4th Man (1983), Fresh+Blood (1985), Total Recall (1990), Basic Instinct (1992), Showgirls (1995) and Starship Troopers (1997).
The screenplay to the film was written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner. Neumeier is best known for also writing the screenplay to Starship Troopers (another Paul Verhoven film) as well. There’s a bit of an interesting story to how the original idea of a robotic police officer came to mind for one of the screenwriters (Neumeier) as he worked as an uncredited member of the art team on another sci-fi film. Let’s just say the basic premise of that story went on to roughly inspire the basic idea of what this would soon be collaborated on, revised numerous times, and eventually made into a full-length feature film.
It took a lot to get RoboCop able to get made as a film. However, one of it’s strongest struggles as a film, ultimately, was to receive an R rating during its theatrical run. The filmmakers had to go back and make numerous cuts, all because it was originally given an X rating by the MPAA. The reason for that was namely four specific scenes with (what apparently some may consider) excessive gore – all from make-up and special effects elements. That’s actually how the slightly lengthier “Director’s Cut” in a NOT RATED (or even referred to as UNRATED) form came to be. You on that cut (versus the theatrical) of the film get to see those scenes that the MPAA made them remove to meet an R rating. So, that’s the whole story behind that.
The film takes place in a futuristic Detriot where the crime has grown out of control. The city has actually made a contract with a private company called “OCP” (appropriately titled) that is running their police force, with plans to introduce robotic officers in addition to the already existing human police officers we all are accustomed to. The story here uses these “Media Break” news-style segments during the film to get you familiar with the world where things are happening in, as well as introduce you to some characters.
The main character in this story is a human police officer named “Murphy” (Peter Weller) that has just transferred to a new police division. He first meets some of the mouthy male officers and eventually is introduced to his tough female partner “Lewis” (Nancy Allen) and sent on his first day on patrol. Let’s just say, to avoid dishing out any spoilers, that our protagonist (Murphy) is murdered by a notorious cop-killer. His body is used by scientists at OCP to be put back together including his upper half (including face) in the form of a robotic police officer. Hence, the film’s title being RoboCop – as it’s about a robotic cop, made my a company (OCP) whose name spells that very word (cop).
The movie offers up some amazing characters and performances from the likes of Dan O’Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer, and Ray Wise. RoboCop as a film was a success, being reportedly made on a 13 million budget, it ended up grossing 53.4 million worldwide at the box office – according to Box Office Mojo. It spawned two sequels RoboCop 2 (1990) and RoboCop 3 (1993), as well as 1994 live-action TV series (of the same title) that lasted one season, and even received an animated TV series RoboCop: Alpha Commando (1998). Most recently, the film received a remake (of the same title) in 2014.
Movie Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)
“RoboCop” on this Limited Edition Blu-ray is presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, just as it was originally intended and shown during its theatrical run. The movie was shot on 35mm film using the Arriflex Bl camera.
Let me first start by explaining that this film has a troubled past on the Blu-ray Disc format, premiering in 2007 with a notoriously bad video quality presentation it was the one disc we all hated. Eventually, come 2013, MGM decides to do a 4K restoration of the film and even gets the approval of the film’s director Paul Verhoven, as well as the executive producer Jon Davison, and the co-writer/co-producer Edward Neumeier.
This video presentation is that of the 2013 4K restoration that was previously released by MGM (via Fox) back in 2014 on Blu-ray. This uses that same 4K restoration, so be aware of that. It visually should be pretty much identical to that release. This, however, includes not just the Director’s Cut but also the original theatrical cut.
SOURCES: 2007 Blu-ray (left), 2019 Blu-ray (right)
– click for more frame-by-frame comparisons –
As you can tell, there’s an exceptional amount of newfound detail here in some shots with the 4K restoration via this Blu-ray versus the original 2007 version. That older version was muddy or murky almost at times and the color timing was way off. Here, you get a correct approach to color with more accurate flesh tones, as well as a deep solid black level, and just enough visible film grain. There have been some obvious framing issues fixed here and even some shots on the new 4K restoration have been widened (see the bottom comparison shot above for reference).
This really proved back in 2014 on the Blu-ray, released then featuring this same restoration, to make for one hell of an improvement. This time around you get not only the Director’s Cut of the film (with a 1:43:18 runtime) and NOT RATED, but you also get the original Theatrical Cut of the film (with a 1:42:47 runtime) and R rated – on two separate discs with corresponding bonus materials and audio commentaries.
A lot of people have complained to me that this is no different than the 2014 release and that is entirely wrong, so that’s why I’m saying this up front. There are some slight visual quality changes during the Director’s Cut of the film when the four scenes that were added back in play. They have been correctly framed here (in my opinion) but they may seem a tad bit off in terms of the actual visual style or such. It’s nothing really at all that bothersome, but it is something you will notice when watching that cut of the film.
All that being said, this release proves to deliver one very impressive (near perfect) video presentation that is well-worthy of a 4.75 rating for overall video quality.
Video Quality Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)
Audio here on this new 2019 “Limited Edition” Blu-ray of the film from Arrow Video is presented in the options of DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo, DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 surround and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround configurations (mixes). Over the years on Blu-ray, in its numerous releases, this has always maintained the 5.1 surround sound configuration. The lossless audio mixes found on this release all sound terrific and I’ll discuss them a bit further in a moment.
First off, those who previously owned the 2014 Blu-ray will certainly notice that here you get those 2.0 and 4.0 configurations for sound, lacking from that release. Those who previously owned the 2007 release will notice both that the 4.0 configuration of surround sound is back (and this time is in a lossless format) and that we also get a lossless 2.0 Stereo mix of the film – never before available.
The 2.0 Stereo mix is very nice, as I sampled a good half of the film in that format on one of my viewings of this for review. I found it to be very crisp in terms of clarity, to contain an ample amount of bass. The stereo mix manages to deliver the dialogue distinctly, to give you the beautiful representation of the original music composed by the late Basil Poledouris, and to deliver the action-packed gunshots, blasts, and the explosions that the movie has its fair share of.
Now, the 4.0 and 5.1 lossless surround mixes here both do a great job of delivering the music mostly from the front left & right as well as with a nice bit of rear channel presence in both speakers there. The subwoofer is used quite often throughout the film in the 5.1 surround mix, especially for the music and sound effects. It’s pretty intense but nothing too over-the-top. Dialogue in the 5.1 mix gets properly mixed into the center channel speaker and requires no volume adjustments, as I listened to this actually on one viewing just slightly below my reference volume level. The 5.1 mix really is where it’s at, undeniably but the fact you get both the 2.0 Stereo and 4.0 surround mixes in a lossless format are great to have for those who might prefer those ways of hearing this film – to bring back memories.
All and all, the sound presentation found on both the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical cut of the film is very impressive and extremely close to being perfect. That said, this release earns a very respectable 4.75 rating for audio quality.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)
Physical bonus materials on this Limited Edition Collector’s Set include the following:
- A Double-Sided Poster is included which features newly commissioned artwork as well as the original theatrical poster for the film.
- A Limited Edition Collector’s Booklet is included (80 pages in length) that features writings from Omar Ahmed, Christopher Griffiths, and Henry Blyth. This also includes a 1987 Fangoria interview with Rob Botti.
- 6 Double-Sided Collector’s Postcards are included inside of the Blu-ray Disc case. These postcard-size lobby card reproductions are double-sided and all feature iconic stills from the film, as well as an older promotional poster and logo on the opposite side.
Bonus Materials are presented on both discs of this release.
Disc 1 (aside from the Director’s Cut of the film) includes the following bonus materials which are in a variety of SD and HD video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound – unless otherwise noted below.
- Audio Commentaries include:
- Audio Commentary with Paul Verhoeven (director), Jon Davison (executive producer) and Ed Neumeier (co-writer). This was originally recorded for the Theatrical Cut and was then re-edited for the Director’s Cut in 2014. This is an archival audio commentary.
- NEW Audio Commentary with Paul M. Shannon (film historian)
- NEW Audio Commentary by fans Christopher Griffiths, Gary Smart and Eastwood Allen
- NEW “The Future of Law Enforcement: Creating RoboCop“ (16:51 – HD) is an interview with the film’s screenplay co-writer Michael Miner. This proves to be very informative and is a definite must-watch for fans.
- NEW “RoboTalk” (32:08 – HD) is a discussion between the film’s other screenplay co-writer Ed Neumeier and filmmakers/fans David Birke & Nicholas McCarthy. This is very informative and we learn that Neumeier was slightly inspired by working as an uncredited member of the art department on the Ridley Scott film Blade Runner (1982). There are lots of other extremely informative bits of info found here. This is yet another must-watch for the fans.
- NEW “Truth of Character with Nancy Allen” (18:26 – HD) is an interesting interview with the co-star who played Murphy’s police officer partner, Officer Anne Lewis. Fans will really enjoy this, as Allen goes into great detail about first reading the script, making the film, making the sequel, and reflects back on the film’s legacy.
- NEW “Casting Old Detroit with Julie Selzer” (8:20 – HD) is an interview with the film’s casting director.
- NEW “Connecting The Shots with Mark Goldblatt” (11:06 – HD) is an interview with the film’s second unit director. Goldblatt is a frequent collaborator with the film’s director, Paul Verhoven.
- NEW “Analog with Peter Kuran and Kevin Kutchaver” (13:10 – HD) is a featurette that puts focus on the special photographic effects by VCE, used in the film. Here, the visual effects artists Kuran and Kutchaver discuss working on the effects for this film.
- NEW “More Than Machine: Composing RoboCop“ (12:04 – HD) is a tribute to the late composer Basil Poledouris that worked on this film. This includes interviews with film music experts Jeff Bond, Lukas Kendall, Daniel Schweiger, and Robert Townson.
- NEW “RoboProps” (12:50 – HD) has a fan (Julien Dumont) giving us a tour of his massive collection of RoboCop original props from the film, as well as memorabilia and collectibles.
- “2012 Q&A with the Filmmakers” (42:37 – SD) took place at UCLA on May 31st, 2012. The panel here includes Paul Verhoven (director), Peter Weller (Murphy/RoboCop), Nancy Allen (Lewis), Ed Neumeier (screenplay co-writer), Michael Miner (screenplay co-writer), and Phil Tippett (associate producer).
- “RoboCop: Creating a Legend” (21:10 – SD) is an archival featurette from 2007.
- “Villains of Old Detroit” (17:00 – SD) is archival, from 2007, and plays obvious focus to the bad guys in the film.
- “Special Effects: Then & Now” (18:21 – SD) is archival, from 2007, and focuses on the stop-motion and matte effects in the film.
- “Paul Verhoven Easter Egg” (0:39 – SD) comes from a 2007 release and has the director discussing his cameo appearance in the film.
- Deleted Scenes (2:50 – HD)
- “The Boardroom: Storyboard with Phil Tippett Audio Commentary” (6:02 – SD) features storyboards as well.
- “Director’s Cut Production Footage” (11:34 – HD) is very raw footage and pretty gory.
- Trailers include:
- Theatrical Trailer 1 (1:38 – HD)
- Theatrical Trailer 2 (1:23 – HD) features Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound
- TV Spots (2:03 – HD) includes three total spots.
- “Image Galleries” include:
- Production Stills (1:48 – HD)
- Behind The Scenes (1:23 – HD)
- Poster & Video Art (0:55 – HD)
Disc 2 (aside from the Theatrical Cut of the film) includes the following bonus materials which are in a variety of SD and HD video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound – unless otherwise noted below.
- Audio Commentary with Director Paul Verhoven, executive producer Jon Davison and co-writer Ed Neumeier. This was originally recorded back in 2001 and has been featured on previous Blu-ray releases.
- Isolated Scores, each presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 lossless Stereo sound, include:
- Composer’s Original Score
- Final Theatrical Mix
- “Edited-for-TV Version” (1:33:16 – HD) features optional English subtitles. This is presented in the 1.33:1 (4×3) aspect ratio, with black pillar bars on the sides. It features DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo sound. What you get here is the entire Edited for Television version of the film. This is very cool for fans who remember seeing it this way. It’s certainly worth noting that this TV version has been newly transferred to HD from some recently-discovered 35mm film elements.
- “RoboCop: Edited For Television” (18:35 – HD) isn’t the entire film but instead is the edited sections of the film for when it is shown on television.
- “Split Screen Comparisons” include:
- Theatrical vs Director’s Cut (4:02 – HD) shows the differences between the two cuts of the film. Four scenes total were altered.
- Theatrical vs TV Cut (20:16 – HD) shows the differences between those two cuts of the film as well.
Overall, the bonus materials here are extremely impressive and, well quite frankly, they are perfect. In terms of physical extras on the Limited Edition Collector’s Set (only), you get a double-sided poster, six collector’s postcards replicas of the original lobby cards, and a very cool 80-page collectible booklet.
Then, in terms of extras on the discs, you get two new audio commentary tracks for the Director’s Cut, lots of new interviews, an Edited-for-TV version, as well as split-screen comparisons between the different versions of the film, and some previously unreleased material as well. It all roughly totals up to around 299 minutes (almost five hours) in length. Plus, on the Theatrical version of the film, you get two different versions of the isolated Music Score in lossless Stereo 2.0 sound.
Lastly, you even get the full HD restored Edited for TV version of the film included. For those fans who remember seeing it that way. It’s just an amazing set of supplemental material. This is just enough RoboCop for the fans to be pleased with the number of extras included – in the limited set especially.
NOTE: The SteelBook Limited Edition lacks these physical bonus materials.
Bonus Materials Rating: 5 (out of 5)
“RoboCop” was one of the more unique and memorable science fiction/action films of the 1980s and proves to hold up to the test of time and still be a great film all these years later. It was a film that really didn’t take itself too seriously, in a good way at times being purposely comedic, that managed to still deliver a story and a creepy glimpse at what a future of law enforcement could be like. The film has some heart to it, admittedly, as well as even some undertones were thrown in amongst the story and such.
In terms of video quality for this Limited Edition Blu-ray release of the film (from Arrow Video), we get the 4K restoration of the film. This looks really great, especially in comparison to the original 2007 Blu-ray release of the film. However, one should be aware that this is the very same 4K restoration used on the 2014 Blu-ray that MGM (Fox) released of just the Director’s Cut of the film. That said this visually impressive 4K restoration is enough to earn itself a near-perfect rating for video quality here.
Next, in terms of audio quality for this Limited Edition Blu-ray release, we get the options of being able to hear both the Director’s Cut and Theatrical cut of the film in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo, 4.0 surround, and 5.1 surround sound configurations. These mixes all sound damn good, almost doing the film complete justice.
Lastly, the bonus materials here on this Limited Edition Blu-ray release, on the Collector’s Set, come with some excellent physical extras as well as loads of digital extras spread across both discs (versions) of the film, that total up to almost five hours in length. The Limited Edition on Blu-ray makes for one very highly recommended set for fans. This is a set that I would certainly buy for a (lot more than) a dollar.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
4.75 (out of 5) for video quality
4.75 (out of 5) for audio quality
5 (out of 5) for bonus materials
Very Highly Recommended
Blu-ray Technical Specifications:
Title: RoboCop [Limited Edition]
Release Year: 2019
Studio/Distributor: Arrow Video
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Exact Runtimes: 1:43:18 (Director’s Cut), 1:42:47 (Theatrical Cut)
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo (with a DTS 2.0 Stereo core), English DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 (with a DTS 4.0 core), English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio (with a DTS 5.1 core),
Disc Sizes: BD-50 (x2)
Disc 1 uses 43.73GB total / 29.1GB for the Director’s Cut of the film.
Disc 2 uses 42.23GB total / 31.0GB for the Theatrical Cut of the film.