BOOK REVIEW: ROBOCOP: THE DEFINITIVE HISTORY / AUTHOR: CALUM WADDELL / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
It’s hard to believe that twenty seven years have passed since the cyborg supercop of Old Detroit stomped on to cinema screens and made an indelible dent on our genre. In the span of those twenty seven years, RoboCop has made his way to a film trilogy, animation, computer games, direct-to-DVD movies, a full season of a TV series, novels, comic books, action figures, clothing and a cinematic reboot, if you’ll pardon the pun.
What started as a socio-political satire on mass consumerism, political and corporate corruption, and social breakdown in a bleak and dystopian world complimented by the tragedy of the existentialist angst of the hero is worthy of an in-depth study.
So, given a rich tapestry of history involving genre heavyweights, such as directors Paul Verhoeven, and Irwin Kershner, with comic book writer and artist Frank Miller, the backdrop of a production company forever fighting for their financial lives and gambling everything on a long shot, one could easily be forgiven for expecting a book calling itself The Definitive History to be bursting at the seams with detailed stories and analysis about its subject matter from a range of different angles.
Though it is without question a handsome volume, the book essentially falls short of its lofty goal. Most of its 224 glossy pages are filled to the brim with backstage photos, production art, and publicity shots. The pages containing actual text are about one in four. The bare bones of the events that led to the character’s many screen incarnations are here, but the reader is left hungry for more meat at the end of what is a very quick read as the author breezes through the history with a brief quote here and there but no real insight. The TV series is barely touched, same for the comics, DVDs and other merchandising. The emphasis is firmly on the original film and the remake with everything else reduced to little more than a mention in passing.
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