Review by Sean Boelman
These days, it seems like any film or franchise that was at one point a part of the cultural zeitgeist will get its own hyper-nostalgic, uber-nerdy, several-hour-long documentary detailing its production and impact. Thankfully, this trend has not yet outworn its welcome. RoboDoc: The Creation of RoboCop is as extensive as one would hope, with it being almost five hours long, but it will be absolute catnip for cinephiles.
The documentary tells the story of the making of the 1987 sci-fi classic RoboCop. It starts from the moment the idea for the movie was born and traces it all the way through the film’s release and cultural impact (although it doesn’t discuss the 2014 remake — but we don’t want to talk about that much either).
RoboDoc goes into detail on every little thing you could possibly want to know about RoboCop — and some things you didn’t even know you wanted to know. The documentary breaks down the movie not just on a scene-by-scene level, but even a line-by-line level at times. That these people remember so much of this film 35 years later is a testament to how special it was (and still is).
As is often the case with these nostalgia-fueled behind-the-scenes documentaries, there’s no denying that RoboDoc is a bit fluffy at times. However, there are quite a few portions that discuss the social context and relevance of the cult masterpiece. Everyone involved discusses RoboCop’s sharp political commentary that still rings eerily true today.
Of course, the documentary’s success will largely depend on how much the viewer appreciates the movie in question. The documentary does a damn good job of arguing that RoboCop is a masterpiece. If you like it, it’ll give you a new level of appreciation; if you don’t, it might give you cause to rethink your position.
The level of access that documentarians Eastwood Allen and Christopher Griffiths got in terms of interviewees is absolutely exceptional. They talk to everyone from director Paul Verhoeven to writers Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner to star Peter Weller and the rest of the cast and crew. Everyone involved has such a clear passion for this project that it’s infectious.
Allen and Griffiths blend together the talking head interviews with footage from the film, BTS archive materials, concept art, new animation, and more. The result is a documentary that is entirely engaging and just as kinetic as one could possibly hope for from a documentary about one of the most gleefully over-the-top action movies ever made.
RoboDoc: The Creation of RoboCop is for a niche audience of cinephiles, but it knows exactly who it’s for. If you go into this documentary with a deep love and respect for ‘80s camp masterpieces, RoboDoc is sure to be some of the most enjoyable five hours you’ll have watching a documentary this year.
RoboDoc: The Creation of RoboCop premieres on SCREAMBOX August 29. All four episodes reviewed.