“RoboDoc: The Creation of RoboCop” Gives Us the Backstory on the Cult Classic – Review

Paul Verhoeven talks 'RoboCop'.
Paul Verhoeven talks ‘RoboCop’. Photo courtesy of Screambox

“Blood – I want more f***ing blood,” is what Paul Verhoeven wanted with RoboCop according to this documentary. The four-part television series, RoboDoc: The Creation of RoboCop, streams on Screambox on August 29, 2023.

I was provided with a free advanced digital screener for RoboDoc: The Creation of RoboCop for review. The opinions I have shared are my own.

In 1987, Reagan was president. Blade Runner had hit the screens, changing the world of science fiction films. Meanwhile, the comic book space was working with Judge Dredd and Iron Man. With all those ingredients, Michael Miner & Edward Neumeier wrote the screenplay for RoboCop, originally just a working title for the futuristic take on cops, corporations, and the future of the media.

RoboDoc: The Creation of RoboCop is a four-part documentary about the making of the iconic RoboCop movie that came out in 1987. While it touches very briefly on the sequels, television series, and animated series, the four hours are primarily about just the first film.

Directed by Chris Griffiths and Eastwood Allen, they previously worked on several other documentaries that are streaming on Screambox.

The current documentary is overall a good one. It covers the origins of the movie, as well as the casting process. It also discusses the selection of Verhoeven as a director, talking about how his growing up during World War II helped shape his attitude toward blood on the screen as well as his overall directorial style. Verhoeven is called a genius as well as manic, but everyone acknowledges his number one priority was always the movie.

There are a lot of details about how the first RoboCop was made. From the creation of the idea to its production, the documentary series does a great job talking about practical special effects, including the creation of the iconic RoboCop suit and weapons. It includes several interviews with the stunt performers, archival interviews about the music, and talks about the ‘computer’ design which wasn’t done on a computer.

It also doesn’t shy away from the bad stuff: it mentions (several times) that the filming process was not a good one for most of the people involved. It not only uses interviews of most of the cast and crew today, but excerpts from interviews done during the production itself.

There are also a few deleted scenes with explanations as to why they got deleted.

Peter Weller holds RoboCop's gun.
Peter Weller holds RoboCop’s gun. Photo courtesy of Screambox

However, watching all four episodes back-to-back led me to see one big flaw in the documentary. It feels fluffed to me, repetitive and bloated to fit the four hours, and needs a good editing.

There are several times the camera lingers on one head while someone else is talking – I guess for a reaction shot? Additionally, there are several repeating of scenes from the movie and commentaries – we hear no less than four times that Verhoeven is a ‘challenging’ director.

Finally, there are a couple of sequences that seemed put in just to make the length: did we really need ten to fifteen minutes about who was dating (and more) whom, and how star Peter Weller was a ‘pussy hound’? They could’ve easily cut an hour or so and still had an effective documentary. Releasing it weekly will no doubt help this issue.

The other issue I had with the editing is that despite the given episode titles, there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason for what went in each episode. It just seems to pick scenes to focus on, and there’s no real hook at the end to encourage you to tune in the next week. There’s also precious little discussion about the film’s impact. I was fully expecting some interviews with uberfans (maybe even show a RoboCop convention) as well as with critics and academics about the cultural impact.

But that is minimal concerns about a documentary about a movie where they compare the lead to Jesus, and where “it’s an action picture and a picture about the human soul.” It did the trick of making me want to see the movie again.

Episode one, “Destination Delta City,” debuts on August 29 on Screambox. Episode two, “Verhoeven’s Mantra,” streams on September 5. Episode three, “Blood, Sweat & Steel,” airs on September 12. And episode four, “Murphy & The Machine,” streams on September 19.

More information is available at the Cult Screenings website.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1SL8kwU9aY?si=o1uXFdl73pOCrTbT]

Author: Angie Fiedler Sutton

Angie Fiedler Sutton is a writer, podcaster, and all-round fangirl geek. She has been published in Den of Geek, Stage Directions, LA Weekly, The Mary Sue, and others.

She also produces her own podcast, Contents May Vary, where she interviews geeky people about geeky things. You can see all her work (and social media channels) at angiefsutton.com.

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