When it was announced that a remake of one of Hollywood’s sci-fi masterpieces was in the pipeline, 27 years after the original, many people quite rightly asked: “Why?”
The answer is that ROBOCOP (12: Studio Canal) is a slick reboot of the 1987 film, with updated CGI and video game-style visuals making it a must for action fans.
Brazilian director Jose Padilha brings grit and punch to proceedings and Joel Kinnaman confidently steps into Peter Weller’s formidable shoes as the Detroit cop-turned-cyborg. Once he’s been customised by scientist Gary Oldman, he targets both the villains responsible for his murder and the corrupt corporation that created him.
The movie is less satirical and subversive than the first outing, but the set-pieces are impressive. The raw intensity is only lost during the scenes with Kinnaman’s wife (Abbie Cornish) and young son, which provide the human element.
> The true story of the lengthy affair between author Charles Dickens and actress Ellen Ternan, some 27 years his junior, is depicted in THE INVISIBLE WOMAN (12: Lionsgate).
The Dickens we meet here, played by Ralph Fiennes, who also directs, is a hugely popular writer and avuncular soul who’s unfulfilled because his wife, who has given birth to ten children, doesn’t really understand his work.
Enter 18-year-old “Nelly” Ternan (Felicity Jones), a jobbing actress besottedby Dickens’ literary output, who soon realises the man himself is strongly attracted to her.
The screenplay frames the illicit consequences within the context of Ternan’s later life as a married teacher, with the strain of keeping her liaison a secret starting to take its toll.
Also starring Kristin Scott Thomas (Mrs Ternan) and Tom Hollander (Wilkie Collins), Fiennes’ confident direction captures every nuance in a subtle, accomplished and intelligent piece of film-making.
> Belly laughs are in short supply in comedy drama DELIVERY MAN (12: Entertainment One), in which Vince Vaughn plays David, a butcher’s van driver whose past catches up with him.
This is director Ken Scott’s Hollywood remake of his own Canadian offering, Starbuck. That was the nickname David used during his frequent visits to a sperm bank in his cash-strapped youth, but now he finds he’s the biological father of 533 children, 142 of whom have joined in a lawsuit to reveal his identity.
Unsure he’s actually parent material, David conspires with his lawyer (Chris Pratt) to track down some of these grown-up kids who’ve never known their “dad”.
The emotional complications that escalate from there are only mildly diverting as the eternal man-child stumbles out of his comfort zone.
> Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project have a lot to answer for. DEVIL’S DUE (15: Twentieth Century Fox) is a modest addition to the spawn-of-Satan genre and the tired found-footage format does it few favours.
A newlywed couple are surprised to discover they are expecting their first child soon after their honeymoonin the Dominican Republic. The husband documents the pregnancy on film, but witnesses a transformation in his wife that has him wondering if there’s something supernatural about the unborn baby.
It’s less a question of who’s the daddy than what’s the daddy as things get weirder and weirder.