Saturday, February 22, 2014

Stubs - Ferry Cross the Mersey


Ferry Cross the Mersey (1965) Starring: Gerry and the Pacemakers (Gerry Marsden, Freddie Marsden, Les Maguire, Les Chadwick), Cilla Black, Julie Samuel, The Fourmost, Jimmy Savile. Directed by Jeremy Summers. Screenplay by David Franden. Story by Tony Warren.  Produced by Michael Holden and Brian Epstein (Executive Producer). Run time 88 minutes. UK. Black and White. Comedy, Drama, Musical

Gerry and the Pacemakers were the seconds in almost everything related to Merseyside and music; the second group to be signed by manager Brian Epstein, the second Mersey group to be signed by a major label and the second Liverpool group to be have a number one hit in the UK*. Not bad to be number two, but when the number one you’re chasing is the best-selling group of all time, The Beatles, the gap is quite significant.

It is no surprise that Gerry and the Pacemakers would also make a movie, too. Following the success of The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night (1964), why wouldn’t Brian Epstein try to make magic a second time by highlighting his second biggest act? The problem is that lightning doesn’t strike twice very often.

The band was formed in 1959, with Gerry Marsden on guitar, his brother Fred on drums, Les Chadwick on bass and Arthur McMahon on piano; Les Maguire replaced McMahon in 1961. For a time, they were called Gerry Marsden and the Mars Bars, before the Mars candy company forced them to change it. Like The Beatles, the Pacemakers played the club scene in Liverpool, including the famous Cavern Club, and made virtually the same trip to Hamburg, Germany to work in the clubs there.

Gerry and The Pacemakers.

Signed in 1963 to Columbia Records, a sister label to Parlophone, The Beatles’ label. Produced by George Martin, their first three singles: How Do You Do it?; I Like It and You’ll Never Walk Alone all went number one in the U.K. (A feat that would not be matched until Frankie Goes to Hollywood did it in the 1980’s.) However, they would never have a number one hit in the U.K. again and never did have one in the U.S. for that matter. These singles had been covers, the first two written by Mitch Murray and the third from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical, Carousel. Gerry started to write their songs, which included It’s Gonna Be Alright; I’m The One; Ferry Cross the Mersey and their biggest U.S. hit, Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying, which peaked at number four in the Billboard charts.

The first of three consecutive number ones for Gerry and the Pacemakers in the UK.

By late 1965, the group’s popularity was already in decline. The group called it quits in October 1966, about the same time their version of Simon and Garfunkel’s The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine, failed to chart.

Like A Hard Day’s Night, Ferry Cross the Mersey tells a fictional version of the Pacemakers story. Beginning with a wild airport reception greeting the Pacemakers back from a successful U.S. tour. With It’s Gonna Be Alright playing, they group goes to the studio where producer George Martin is shown recording the song.

Reflecting back on their success, Gerry narrates a flashback telling how the group formed which ends with the group playing a concert at the Cavern Club in their native Liverpool. We hear them singing Slow Down, the same Larry Williams song the Beatles would also cover that same year on their Long Tall Sally EP in the UK. The Pacemakers version's not bad either.

Gerry is a happy go lucky art student living across the Mersey River from Liverpool with his Aunt Lil (Mona Washbourne) who has taken Gerry in after his mother died. With them live two boarders, Mr. Lumsden (George A. Cooper), an undertaker, and Miss Kneave (Patricia Lawrence), a librarian. Having been up late last night playing his music, Gerry has trouble getting up in the morning. But when push comes to shove, and in sped up pace, Gerry gets dressed and washes up before going to a breakfast of porridge.

Getting on his motor scooter with his guitar and art portfolio, Gerry heads down to the docks and rides onto the Ferry just as it’s pulling away. On board are the rest of the band, Fred (Freddie Marsden), Les (Les Chadwick) and Les (Les Maguire), who are also art students. While on board, they start to sing the title song, Ferry Cross the Mersey.

Singing Ferry Cross the Mersey on the ferry crossing the Mersey.

Once they’re done singing, they ride off straight to art school. Dodie Dawson (Julie Samuel), Gerry’s wealthy girlfriend, is also a student there as well. All the students hurry to their life drawing class under the instruction of Trasler (Deryck Guyler). [You might recognize Guyler from A Hard Day’s Night as the Police Inspector who had to deal with both Ringo and Paul’s Grandfather.] Once everyone is set up, Trasler leaves, which means a party breaks out. Gerry, prompted by Dodie’s asking him how he feels about her, sings her a song, Fall in Love, to explain his feelings. Trasler returns and everyone, including the nude model, Norah (Margaret Nolan) [Another bit player from a Hard Day's Night.], try to act like they’ve been working all the time.

Familiar face #1. Deryck Guyler as he appeared in A Hard Day's Night (l) also
appeared in Ferry Cross the Mersey as Art Instructor Tasler (r).
Familiar face #2. Margaret Nolan was Grandfather's girlfriend at the Circle Club in
A Hard Day's Night (l) is the nude life art model, Norah, for Tasler's art class (r).

For lunch, Gerry and group drive to a nearby Chinese restaurant. Even though they come close to insulting their waitress (Dorothy Su), they break into song, This Thing Called Love, and amuse the other patrons to the point where the manager (Andy Ho) gives them their meal on the house.

Dodie wants to help her boyfriend’s band and to that end goes to see Jack Hanson (T.P. McKenna), a local promoter. She convinces him to give Gerry and the Pacemakers a listen. He agrees to give them a chance and attends one of their rehearsals at a local plumbing factory where some of them work. The band plays Think About Love. When girls outside hear them singing, they come screaming into the building. Hanson is impressed and offers to represent the band on the spot. They are signed up to perform at a local contest to pick the British representative for a Euro-beat contest. But they have to figure out which song to play.

Dodie Dawson (Julie Samuel), Gerry's wealthy girlfriend,
wants to help the Pacemakers and sees an agent on their behalf.

In the meantime, Gerry meets Dodie’s father, Col. Dawson (Eric Barker), after Gerry sings another song to Dodie, I'll Wait For You. The Colonel is impressed that Gerry is so well read on art and can talk intelligently on the topic. Having won the Colonel's approval, Gerry and the Pacemakers let their new manager take them to buy new instruments for the contest. Trying out the new equipment is a good excuse for another song, Baby You're So Good To Me.

The Pacemakers try out new instruments with the song Baby You're So Good to me.

Using Mr. Lumsden’s hearse, which they promise not to drive over 20 mph, the group transports their new gear to the contest, which Aunt Lil, Lumsden and Miss Kneave also attend. The group puts down their equipment and goes to watch their competition. The contest is being Emceed by Jimmy Savile, then the popular and flamboyant host of BBC TV’s Top of the Pop series. (After his death in 2011, allegations of sexual and child abuse would ruin Savile’s reputation.)

The contest is a showcase for more of the Epstein music stable, each performing what they hoped would become a well-known song The Fourmost: I Love You Too; The Black Knights: I Got a Woman; The Blackwells: Why Don't You Love Me?; and  Earl Royce & the Olympics: Shake a Tail Feather!

While they’re watching the other groups play, the Pacemakers' gear is inexplicably picked up and taken to the airport. Gerry, Dodie and group take the hearse and try to intercept the van with their equipment. The chase is sped up for comedic effect in an attempt to recreate a Keystone slapstick short, right down to the Liverpool version of the Keystone Cops. The group seems to be having more fun than we are watching them.

Since Gerry is not available, Hanson convinces Cilla Black (playing herself) who is supposed to close the show, to go on until they get back. Cilla sings something less than a signature song: Is it Love?, but of course everyone loves it.

Having retrieved their gear, Gerry and the Pacemakers return to the contest and play It’s Gonna Be Alright and, of course, win. We’re supposed to believe that they become famous because of winning the contest, which we know isn’t true. On the ferry ride back across the Mersey, the group celebrates their victory with family and friends and we hear Ferry Cross the Mersey play one more time.

To call this a poor man’s A Hard Day’s Night, would be doing that film an injustice. A Hard Day’s Night is one of my favorite movies of all time and presents an idealized version of a day in the life of The Beatles using a documentary filmmaking style. Ferry Cross the Mersey tries the same approach, even using the same Director of Photography, Gilbert Taylor. But that’s where similarities stop. A Hard Day’s Night was a glimpse of a group which was still on the rise. By the time Ferry Cross the Mersey came out, Gerry and the Pacemakers' best days were already behind them; just no one knew it yet.

Ferry Cross the Mersey concentrates on Gerry, the obvious leader, rather than taking an ensemble approach. The pace is surprisingly slow, the humor well-worn and much of the dialogue is indiscernible. While I have obviously heard Liverpudlian spoken before, I found that much of the speaking in this film is obfuscated by everyone’s thick scouse accents. The songs are very hit and miss as well. If they’re good, they’re memorable: Ferry Cross the Mersey and It’s Gonna Be Alright, when they’re not, they’re very forgettable: This Thing Called Love; and Why Oh Why.

The soundtrack showing the Pacemakers playing the Cavern Club.

Besides the sped up footage and the jokes drowned in scouse, comic relief is provided by a basset hound which Gerry befriends on the ferry on the way to art college. The basset hound continues to show up: on the steps of the school, under the table at the Chinese restaurant, chasing after the boys down the sidewalk, etc. At the end of the movie, it is in fact the basset hound that’s shown to be steering the boat. (Insert laugh here.)

Ferry Cross the Mersey is not a second coming of A Hard Day’s Night. Instead, it is a somewhat interesting novelty from the British musical invasion. An exploitation film trying to hit while the iron of the British Invasion was still hot, the film misses the mark. By the time of its release the Ferry had already sailed on Gerry and the Pacemakers. This is only for the hardcore amongst us, if you can even find it to watch. Otherwise, this is not a film for you, even in your most nostalgic of moods.

*Okay, officially Gerry and The Pacemakers’ How Do You Do It? (released March 1963) was a number one hit before the Beatles’ third single, From Me to You (April 1963) charted that high. However, Please Please Me (January 1963) was number one on the New Musical Express chart (the most recognized chart at the time) as well as Melody Maker’s, but failed to replicate that success on the Record Retailer chart, which was the official UK Singles chart, peaking at number two. In some circles, Please Please Me is considered to be the Beatles' first number one and it was out two months before How Do You Do It?

Monday, February 17, 2014

The LEGO Movie - Everything Is Awesome!!!


LEGO has been a big part of growing up for me, as I would play with various sets a lot, and I would even play some LEGO games on PC (and, later, other systems). While LEGO has become less a part of my life over time, I still like seeing well-crafted LEGO creations and certain available sets pique my interest. The closest I have come to actually playing with them again lately is through Hasbro’s Kre-O Transformers sets, but we’re not here to talk about the competition; we’re talking about LEGO here. With my history with LEGO in mind, I was surprised to learn about The LEGO Movie through a trailer. I wasn’t sure about seeing it at first, but after the movie’s premiere, I decided I needed to see it after hearing about its positive reception, in addition to it seeming like a movie people would be talking about. While my experience with the movie wasn’t exactly the best (I don’t think the theater I went to had the movie loud enough), I nevertheless ended up enjoying it.

The movie begins with Lord Business (Will Ferrell) attempting to get his hands on a weapon known as the Kragle as a wizard named Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) tries to stop him. Vitruvius is blinded by Lord Business in the process, allowing Business to get away with the weapon, but Vitruvius suddenly states a prophecy about the “Special” who will stop Business’ plans using an item called the Piece of Resistance. Not believing him, Lord Business kicks Vitruvius down a chasm. 8 ½ years later, in the city of Brickberg, ruled by President Business (Will Ferrell), an ordinary construction worker named Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) goes about his day by following instructions along with everyone else in the city, though while the instructions mention spending time with others who care about him, it becomes evident that he is, in fact, a rather lonely individual. After the construction site Emmet works at has closed for the day, he sees a hooded figure digging through the site. When he is about to report them according to instructions, Emmet sees the figure is a woman and hesitates; Emmet then chases after her as she begins to leave, causing him to fall into a pit. After he lands, he sees a strange red object and, not knowing what instructions say, gives into his temptation to touch it, causing him to see a strange vision. Soon afterwards, Emmet wakes up in a strange room where he is interrogated, causing him to find out more than he ever knew about President Business and what he has just gotten himself into.

I wish not to delve too much into the movie itself, especially in regards to the story, since doing so will create major spoilers about what happens, although I will say that the story is actually pretty well-written and was better than I expected it to be. The animation of the movie is very interesting, in that it is done in CG while still (rather realistically) styled as if it was in stop-motion. This is especially amazing since everything is made up of LEGO bricks and accessories, which leads to a lot of very impressive effects and some creative use of the LEGO setting (I am not spoiling how). The voice acting is also good, with every voice actor displaying a good range of emotion and helping their respective character stand out and become memorable (they are also really good at bringing out certain emotions in you at times). The music also helps with this and is really good in general, including the song “Everything Is Awesome!!!” by Tegan and Sara with The Lonely Island, which is a very catchy song and will not leave your head for a while after you hear it.

The LEGO Movie is not only a good LEGO movie, it is also a great movie in general. The visuals are very interesting to look at, the story and characters are written well, and the movie gets really creative with its setting, which can lead to a great deal of hilarity at times. LEGO fans will definitely have a good time with this, no matter their age or reason for watching it. Even if you’re not a big fan of LEGO, just watching the movie may make you want to play with a set or two afterwards. My experience with the movie probably wasn’t the best, so I will likely be trying to watch it again on home video to make sure I catch everything, but despite that I had a really good time with it and I wouldn’t mind wanting to see it again. In short, as the movie says, everything is awesome.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Stubs - RoboCop (1987)


RoboCop (1987) Starring: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O’Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer. Directed by Paul Verhoeven. Screenplay by Edward Neumeier, Michael Miner. Produced by Arne Schmidt. Run time 102 minutes. US. Color. Science Fiction, Drama, Action

Inspired by a poster for Blade Runner and the British comic book hero Judge Dredd, Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner dreamed up an idea which became RoboCop. Perhaps one of the most violent films made up to that point, the film originally received an X-rating, then reserved only for strong sexual content, the equivalent of an NC-17 rating today.

Director, Paul Verhoeven, up until then strictly a Dutch director, best known for Soldier of Orange (1977) and Spetters (1980), wanted the violence to be so over the top that the more the merrier. However, an X rating was then considered a box office death sentence, as no mall cinema would show one and no newspaper would accept advertisement. This is in the days before the all-powerful internet.

It took 11 revisions, but with some editing, the film managed to snag an R rating. And while the uncut version is available as a special feature, we will be looking at the original theatrical version.

In a dystopian future, Detroit, Michigan is on the verge of collapse due to financial ruin and being overrun by crime. To escape mass collapse, the city mayor has signed a deal with the mega-corporation Omni Consumer Products (OCP), run by The Old Man (Dan O’Herlihy), giving them ultimate control over the police force, talk about privatization gone awry. In exchange, OCP is allowed to demolish the run-down section of the city, called Old Detroit, and construct a high-end utopia called "Delta City" to be managed by OCP, of course.

The police rank and file is not happy about being forced to work for OCP, which puts profits over the safety of their officers. Policemen are being killed at an alarming rate. In the locker room there is talk of a strike.

Enter Officer Alex Murphy (Peter Weller), a transfer into the precinct. He is paired with Officer Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen), whose partner has recently died. Alex is about to have the worst first day ever. Lewis and Murphy follow a van carrying Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) and his gang: Leon C. Nash (Ray Wise); Steve Minh (Calvin Jung); Emil M. Antonowsky (Paul McCrane) and Joe P. Cox (Jesse Goins). They’ve just robbed a bank, but the money has been burned. Lewis and Murphy follow them to an abandoned steel mill. The officers split up and Lewis is subdued by Cox, who knocks her over a railing and assumes she’s dead.

Officer Murphy (Peter Weller) reporting for duty after his transfer to a new precinct.

Murphy meanwhile comes across two members of the gang. While he kills one, the others overwhelm him. Boddicker shoots off his right hand and the gang opens fire, severing his right arm in a steady volley of bullets. Boddicker supplies the “kill” shot, putting a round into Murphy’s head. All the while Lewis watches, though she makes no effort to stop the slaughter of her partner.

Murphy about to meet the business end of Boddicker's (Kurtwood Smith) gun.

Meanwhile, in the boardroom at OCP law enforcement. OCP senior president Dick Jones (Ronny Cox) demos a new droid, the ED-209, which is designed to replace human officers, who need time off to sleep and eat and stuff like that. If you’ve ever demoed something, you know things rarely work out as planned. In this case, one of the junior executives, who is volunteered by Jones to help with the demonstration, is laid to waste by the ED-209 despite complying with its orders. Oh, those software errors.

ED-209 dispatching an unarmed junior executive in the OCP boardroom.

To say the least, The Old Man is not enthused by this and Jones is called out. Step in Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer), a junior executive who has been working on a contingency program, Robocop, which calls for the combination of a robot’s mechanics and a human’s knowledge and savvy.

The OCP brain trust: The Old Man (Dan O'Herilhy) and Jones (Ronny Cox) listen to
upstart Bob Morton's (Miguel Ferrer) idea about RoboCop.

The recently deceased Murphy provides the human they need for their experiment. (Apparently Murphy signed away his rights to rest in peace or to be treated as a human being when he joined the OCP-run police force. Note: Always read the fine print on the job application.) Even though doctors could save Murphy’s left arm, Morton is adamant about him having a robot body and the arm is cut off. There is a little bit of QA, but it is not too long before RoboCop is ready for deployment. His memory is supposedly wiped clean, like his brain is a hard drive, and he is given three primary directives: 1. serve the public trust; 2. protect the innocent; and 3. uphold the law. There is a fourth, classified directive that apparently no one in development is aware of.

RoboCop, still working out the kinks, takes target practice.

When sent out to the streets, RoboCop proves to be an efficient, though bloody crime fighter. He seems impervious to bullets and tries to wound and not kill the criminal he confronts. RoboCop’s success pleases The Old Man, but draws Jones’ ire, especially when Morton is so disrespectful of his older superiors. Morton is visited one night by Boddicker, who, working for Jones, not only kills Morton, he blows him up.

Robocop disarms a would be robber/

Lewis observes that the Robocop displays some of Murphy’s mannerisms, including some trick shooting Murphy had told her he learned from a TV show his son watches. When she has a moment alone with RoboCop, she asks if he’s Murphy. This starts to spark repressed memories of his past life with wife, Ellen (Angie Bolling), and son, Jimmy (Jason Levine). He goes to his old home, but his wife, believing he’s dead, has moved away to start over.

Officer Lewis (Nancy Allen) asks RoboCop if he's really her old partner Murphy.

RoboCop considers Boddicker to be the most evil man and, with the help of Nash, manages to track down Boddicker to a cocaine factory. There is a firefight and, of course, RoboCop is triumphant. The only one left unscathed is Boddicker. RoboCop threatens to kill Boddicker when he catches him, but Boddicker confesses to be working for Jones, and reminds RoboCop that he is a cop.

Since RoboCop can’t kill Boddicker, he arrests him instead and goes after Jones at OCP headquarters. But Jones is one step ahead of him. When RoboCop tries to arrest Jones he triggers the secret fourth directive, which prevents him from taking action against any executive at OCP. Thinking RoboCop is debilitated, Jones admits to ordering his murder. He then unleashes ED-209 on the outmatched RoboCop. When RoboCop flees down a stairwell, the ED-209 cannot follow. Even though he escapes the larger robot, who tumbles onto its back and cannot get up, like a helpless baby, an ambush of policemen are waiting for RoboCop. Lewis saves RoboCop and takes him, where else, but the abandoned steel mill where Murphy was killed.

Meanwhile, the police force finally goes on strike, in protest of such things as losing their jobs to robots like RoboCop and crime runs rampant. Jones offers Boddicker the underworld spoils of the Delta City construction crew, which they estimate will employ two millions workers. Boddicker regroups his gang and, armed with high-powered guns and a tracking device provided by Jones, they converge on the steel mill.

In a running gun battle, in which one of Boddicker’s gang gets mutated when he crashes into a vat of industrial toxic waste and RoboCop gets a load of scrap metal dumped on him, Murphy and Lewis are triumphant, even though in the end Lewis is critically wounded.

The vat was labelled Toxic Waste when he crashed into it.

RoboCop then heads to OCP, where he very easily takes out the ED-209 Jones has deployed at the entrance. Jones is in the midst of offering the ED-209 as a replacement for what he calls a failed RoboCop program, when RoboCop uses recorded footage of Jones’ confession to show his duplicity to the board.

Jones takes The Old Man hostage and threatens to kill him if his demands aren’t met. RoboCop is powerless to stop him as long as he’s an OCP employee, but the President fires Jones on the spot, freeing RoboCop to take Jones out, shooting him back through a plate glass window and falling to his death. The Old Man thanks RoboCop for his help and asks for his name; RoboCop answers, "Murphy".

Jones fought the law and the law won.

I’m pretty sure I haven’t been able to express just how violent this movie is.(There's also an unrated Director's cut, one of the X-rated versions, that promises to be even more violent.) People aren’t just shot when they can be mutilated. Why use one bullet when ten is overkill? Everything is so over the top that it becomes almost funny at times to watch. This is cartoon violence to the extreme. And to go with the violence, the characters are cartoon-ish, too. They are not just bad guys, they’re crazy bad guys. It’s as if they commit crime just for the sake of breaking the law, regardless of any monetary gain. One of Boddicker’s gang, Cox, laughs like a hyena with joy while he shoots and kills. These are almost like Batman villains without the costumes.

On the face of it, RoboCop (1987) has a lot in common with Total Recall (1990). Not only are both films directed by Paul Verhoeven, but the same actor, Ronny Cox, plays the evil corporate mastermind. In fact, the characters Cox plays in both films, Jones in RoboCop and Cohaagen in Total Recall, seem very similar. They both even have an evil minion who does the dirty work for them. In RoboCop it's Boddicker and in Total Recall it's Richter (Michael Ironside). Both films present a less than glowing future, filled with gadgets, corruption and violence. The films might be even more similar; I’ve read that Arnold Schwarzenegger, the star of Total Recall, was even considered for the Murphy character in RoboCop.

When RoboCop was released, the film did good business, about $53.5 million, received some positive reviews and went on to spawn two more sequels: RoboCop 2 (1990), RoboCop 3 (1993); two animated TV Series: RoboCop: The Animated Series and RoboCop: Alpha Commando; two live action series: RoboCop: The Series and RoboCop: Prime Directives, not to mention video games and comic books. And just when you think they’ve wrung the concept dry, it’s time for the inevitable reboot: RoboCop (2014). Not having seen the new film, I won’t pass judgment other than to say it would be nice to see Hollywood find new stories to tell rather than relying on trying to better past ones, since it so rarely works.

RoboCop (1987) is far from a perfect movie. This is a film in which the future looks remarkably like the 1980’s or at least the least flattering images of that decade with the big hair, big framed glasses and otherwise horrible fashion sense. The special effects are somewhat uneven. While the stop action filming of ED-209 looks good, the shot of Jones falling to his death reeks of green screen techniques that have only gotten better since. The RoboCop outfit looks maybe a little too unwieldy to be practical, but he seems to have a lot of gadgets, including an R2D2-like computer interface, which can also be used as a weapon.

The characters are pretty much one-dimensional, even Murphy. With him we see that he has a past, but it really has little or no bearing on his RoboCop persona. It would take more of a crossover between Murphy’s life and RoboCop’s than this movie permits for there to be any real depth. Murphy was one-dimensional and so is RoboCop.

Nancy Allen, whose career had already hit a peak with movies like Dressed to Kill (1980) and Blow Out (1981), both directed by her then husband Brian DePalma, had a resurgence of sorts with the RoboCop trilogy. But there really isn’t all that much for Officer Lewis to do in most of this movie. She barely has a chance to build any rapport with Murphy so her concern for RoboCop seems a little forced. She stands there and watches her new partner get slaughtered and sort of avenges herself at the end of the film, but I don't think she's a very strong character.

Peter Weller’s Murphy/RoboCop role made the actor a movie star and while he has worked steadily over the years, last appearing in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), he primarily appear on television: 11 episodes of 24 (2006) and 8 episodes of Dexter (2010). Most interesting to me is his hosting of The History Channel’s series Engineering an Empire (2005-2007) where he is credited, not as an actor, but as a lecturer at Syracuse University.

Paul Verhoeven, who would go on to score box office success following RoboCop with Total Recall (1990), Basic Instinct (1992) would also have less success with subsequent films like Showgirls (1995), Starship Troopers (1997) and Hollow Man (2000) before returning to the Netherlands to make films in 2006. There is one scene in RoboCop that also seemed reminiscent with a much longer scene in Starship Troopers. In RoboCop there is a brief locker room scene, where women are seen dressing and undressing with their male counterparts on the force, which reminded me of the shower scene in Starship Troopers, where men and women openly shower together. I don’t know if Verhoeven is trying to make a point about men and women doing the same job being treated equally or if he’s just looking for a way to work in female nudity into stories where you wouldn't expect it.


Murphy walks through the co-ed locker room at left in RoboCop
and troopers take co-ed showers in Starship Troopers at right.

All of his Hollywood films feature nudity in some amount. Basic Instinct is perhaps best remembered for Sharon Stone’s panty-less up skirt shots, and Showgirls is full of it, even when it’s not sexy or needed. In Hollow Man, Sebastian (Kevin Bacon) uses his invisibility to rape his hot neighbor (Rhona Mitra), so there’s not always a message of equality behind Verhoeven's naked ambitions. I digress.

While I would recommend the original RoboCop, I would caution that it is definitely not for everyone. Violent, this film does make a point about the relationship between man and machine.