ALL PAWS ON DECK – Cletus, a yellow lab, looks out from the deck of the F/V Jackpine this morning as ANB Harbor empties out. Today is the opening of the summer troll season and with good weather much of the Sitka fleet is now out on the fishing grounds. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

The Movie Review: Robocop

By Daniel Olbrych


In 1987 Paul Verhoeven slapped moviegoers in the face with the hyper-violent and satirical “Robocop.” It was well received both critically and commercially. It even somehow managed to spawn a Saturday morning cartoon despite its being based on such violent subject matter. “Robocop” is part of our weird culture whether you like it or not: Murphy (“Robocop”) will soon stand 10 feet tall and made of bronze in Detroit’s Victoria Park.

But, hey, it’s been a while (21 years) since “Robocop” has graced the silver screen so you know that means … REBOOT! Yeah!

The new “Robocop” starts off strong. Samuel L. Jackson does his best Bill O’Reilly impression and the near future is believable. The year is 2028 and drone technology is being implemented around the world but not the United States. The Dreyfus Act is in effect, an anti-robot policy based on popular opinion that says the American people do not want a “machine” pulling the trigger. As luck – or misfortune – would have it, police officer Alex Murphy is fatally wounded and the only way to save him is to blend what’s left with robotic parts. Yadda, yadda, yadda. You get it.

This is, unfortunately, where the movie takes a turn for the worse. The political content melts away and what remains is a blase action affair. Jackson pops up from time to time as if to remind us of the political implications of what’s been taking place between Murphy and Omnicorp, the drone manufacturing company. This is similar to the news broadcasts seen in the original “Robocop,” but these O’Reilly Factor-esque sequences do not come across as satire because the rest of the film takes itself pretty seriously.

In addition to Jackson, we get solid performances by Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton and Jackie Earle Haley. They bring some energy to an otherwise lifeless cast. I’ve been a Keaton fan since Tim Burton’s “Batman” and it’s good to see him back on the big screen. Suffice it to say, he hasn’t missed a beat.

The problem, though, with this lineup is the gray portrayal of villainy. The original had bad guys ripping lines off call girls and blasting Murhpy’s arms off at close range, to name but a few of the things on the dirty deeds list. These new bad guys don’t seem all that bad; they’re just corporate.

Joel Kinnaman, who plays Robocop, is a master at being unimpressive. He’s so typical I couldn’t care less. I can’t criticize him, but he’s certainly not Peter Weller, from the original. Although Kinnaman is remarkably average, he comes across like an Academy Award winner when sharing screen time with Abbie Cornish. Cornish, who plays Robocop’s wife, is someone who should probably just stop acting.

There are no real characters. There just isn’t time for them between action beats. The bad guys aren’t very bad. The precinct is full of nameless cops doing busy work. We don’t know anything about anyone. And to top it off, Detroit seems pretty nice. Like, I’d-consider-moving-there nice. What happened to the dirt and grime? “Robocop” (1987) depicted a city in decay and Robocop was its savior. But here, there is no sense that we need a super cop.

There was a lot of potential and the first 15 minutes really tapped into that, but what follows is merely passable. Director José Padilha has skill but he has yet to strike. He makes this film work the best it can but I’m sure there is a better one on the cutting room floor and I expect we will see more from him with his next outing.

The surprise use of the original Robocop theme music is nice, but so sporadic, that it’s only loosely connected to the rest of the film score. It’s like it was thrown in to please fanboys. And I’m sure it was. It’s too bad that this throw-back attitude lingers over the entire movie, thus preventing much originality. God forbid we have that.


So where does that leave “Robocop”? It’s a movie that struggles to find itself, but remains entertaining. The new take on the subject matter suggests at one point there were bigger ideas than what ended up being in the final cut. “Robocop” is better the farther it stands from the original. But face to face, ’87 “Robocop” could punch a hole right through this new model.



Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-1-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 11:15 a.m. Wednesday.

New cases as of Monday: 38

Total statewide – 978

Total (cumulative) deaths – 14

Active cases in Sitka – 8 (5 resident; 3 non-resident)

Recovered cases in Sitka – 11 (8 resident; 3 non-resident)

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 68.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.



Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020



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