Arrow Video retools classic ‘RoboCop’ with deluxe upgrades

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Preston Barta // Features Editor

So many releases of the original 1987 RoboCop have been cast out into the world. However, as many times as critics have inserted the reference, “I’ll buy that for a dollar,” into their headlines to get readers to buy the latest editions, I have to say, Arrow Video has commissioned the ultimate, full-stop package.

ROBOCOP (1987)

Director: Paul Verhoeven
Cast: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O’Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer, Robert DoQui, Ray Wise, Felton Perry and Paul McCrane
Available Tuesday on Blu-ray through Arrow Video.

Headlining this week’s Blu-ray titles is Arrow Video’s two-disc special edition of RoboCop. It’s not just a simple repackaged disc with the same content in a new candy shell. No. This is an all-out Cold Cut Combo (or a gourmet dish rather for any Subway haters out there) of a release. The meat of the sandwich is finished with all-new flavors and seasonings. And the outside cover art is slickly designed for both the limited-edition issue and a polished-as-ever Steelbook.

Looking specifically at the limited-edition release, RoboCop is coated in an inch-and-a-half cardboard casing that holds the two-disc film and special features; an 80-page booklet featuring new writing on the film by U.K.-based scholar and author Omar Ahmed, documentary filmmaker Christopher Griffiths (RoboDoc: The Creation of RoboCop) and writer Henry Blyth; six collector’s postcards; a double-sided fold-out poster; and reversible sleeve art (new designs by Paul Shipper). For that alone, there’s so much to salivate over.

Within the discs is a laundry list of fun extras. For one, the film is a 4K restoration from the original camera negative by MGM, which was beautifully transferred in 2013 and approved by director Paul Verhoeven. There are a few different versions of the film to watch: the more violent and exciting director’s cut (re-edited in 2014), the theatrical cut and an edited-for-TV version (featuring funny and alternate dubs, takes and edits of several scenes). You can also watch side-by-side comparisons between the director and theatrical cuts, and the theatrical and TV cuts. It’s incredibly cool that Arrow Video did all the homework for you.

On top of all that, there are two new commentaries. One is by film historian Paul M. Sammon, and the other is by film fans and filmmakers Christopher Griffiths, Gary Smart and Eastwood Allen. Also, there’s an archive commentary with the original filmmakers, a slew of new interviews with the cast and crew (including star Nancy Allen, casting director Julie Selzer and second unit director Mark Goldbatt), deleted scenes — trust me, there’s a lot. Otherwise, I could be listing for this entire article.

Of the new features, the most interesting one is a sit-down with visual effects and animation artists Peter Kuran and Kevin Kutchaver. This featurette is an exploration of the analog age of filmmaking. The two talents discuss what it was like developing the look and stop-motion movement of the robotic characters. The discussion is so compelling and fresh that it warrants a beefier documentary dive.

For those unaware, large sections of RoboCop were shot in Dallas, where City Hall played a role as the headquarters of OCP (Omni Consumer Products), the company that makes RoboCop. Dallas is known for its architectural design, and RoboCop used these futuristic landmarks and buildings to paint a unique and advanced version of Detroit. Many of the filmmakers speak about shooting in Dallas. In fact, casting director Julie Selzer speaks about driving around downtown Dallas with the filmmakers to find talent and areas to shoot.

The special features are not just new stuff. There is plenty of archived content to go around and keep you busy. RoboCop star and University of North Texas alumnus Peter Weller is not included in any of the new behind-the-scenes items. (He has been very open about being tired of talking about it.) However, he’s in some previously recorded featurettes, including a 2012 panel discussion for the 25th anniversary.

Then there’s the immaculate Steelbook release of the film. It’s not as bulky as the limited edition, but you do have to take better care of it. Steelbooks are incredibly delicate and can be scratched and dented very easily. That’s what gives them value. The Steelbook version is for the hardcore collectors who like to show off their shelf jewelry. All the special features and film versions are the same. Only the metal casing, design (the original poster art on the front and an image of RoboCop holding a gun in fictional Delta City on the back) and booklet are different. The booklet is 44 pages, and it doesn’t include the 1987 interview with Rob Bottin, nor as many of the archive publicity materials.

I don’t throw this word around much at all (because I find it cheap), but I would certainly these two releases masterpieces. Both the limited edition and Steelbook are conversational works of art. It’s difficult to recommend one over the other. But if I had to pick, purely based on the bang for your buck, it’s the limited edition. Hanging up the folded poster and reading all the text gives it that extra push. But if you love the movie, as I do, preorder both through MVDshop.com. They are around $50.

Grade: A+

Complete list of extras for the LIMITED EDITION release:

  • 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative by MGM, transferred in 2013 and approved by director Paul Verhoeven
  • Newly commissioned artwork by Paul Shipper
  • Director’s Cut and Theatrical Cut of the film on two High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray™ discs
  • Original lossless stereo and four-channel mixes plus DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround sound option on both cuts
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on both cuts
  • Six collector’s postcards (Limited Edition exclusive)
  • Double-sided, fold-out poster (Limited Edition exclusive)
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork (Limited Edition exclusive)
  • 80-page Limited Edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Omar Ahmed, Christopher Griffiths and Henry Blyth, a 1987 Fangoria interview with Rob Bottin, and archive publicity materials (some contents exclusive to Limited Edition)

DISC ONE – DIRECTOR’S CUT

  • Archive commentary by director Paul Verhoeven, executive producer Jon Davison and co-writer Ed Neumeier (originally recorded for the Theatrical Cut and re-edited in 2014 for the Director’s Cut)
  • New commentary by film historian Paul M. Sammon
  • New commentary by fans Christopher Griffiths, Gary Smart and Eastwood Allen
  • The Future of Law Enforcement: Creating RoboCop, a newly filmed interview with co-writer Michael Miner
  • RoboTalk, a newly filmed conversation between co-writer Ed Neumeier and filmmakers David Birke (writer of Elle) and Nick McCarthy (director of Orion Pictures’ The Prodigy)
  • Truth of Character, a newly filmed interview with star Nancy Allen on her role as Lewis
  • Casting Old Detroit, a newly filmed interview with casting director Julie Selzer on how the film’s ensemble cast was assembled
  • Connecting the Shots, a newly filmed interview with second unit director and frequent Verhoeven collaborator Mark Goldblatt
  • Analog, a new featurette focusing on the special photographic effects, including new interviews with Peter Kuran and Kevin Kutchaver
  • More Man Than Machine: Composing Robocop, a new tribute to composer Basil Poledouris featuring film music experts Jeff Bond, Lukas Kendall, Daniel Schweiger and Robert Townson
  • RoboProps, a newly filmed tour of super-fan Julien Dumont’s collection of original props and memorabilia
  • 2012 Q&A with the Filmmakers, a panel discussion featuring Verhoeven, Davison, Neumeier, Miner, Allen, star Peter Weller and animator Phil Tippett
  • RoboCop: Creating a Legend, Villains of Old Detroit and Special Effects: Then & Now, three archive featurettes from 2007 featuring interviews with cast and crew
  • Paul Verhoeven Easter Egg
  • Four deleted scenes
  • The Boardroom: Storyboard with Commentary by Phil Tippett
  • Director’s Cut Production Footage, raw dailies from the filming of the unrated gore scenes
  • Two theatrical trailers and three TV spots
  • Extensive image galleries

DISC TWO – THEATRICAL CUT

  • Archive commentary by director Paul Verhoeven, executive producer Jon Davison and co-writer Ed Neumeier (originally recorded for Theatrical version of the film)
  • Two Isolated Score tracks (Composer’s Original Mix and Final Theatrical Mix) in lossless stereo
  • Edited-for-television version of the film, featuring alternate dubs, takes and edits of several scenes (95 mins, SD only)
  • Split screen comparisons between the Director’s Cut and Theatrical Cut, and the Theatrical Cut and edited-for-TV version
  • Robocop: Edited For Television, a compilation of alternate scenes from two edited-for-television versions, including outtakes newly transferred in HD from recently-unearthed 35mm elements

Complete list of extras for the STEELBOOK release:

  • 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative by MGM, transferred in 2013 and approved by director Paul Verhoeven
  • Director’s Cut and Theatrical Cut of the film on two High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray™ discs
  • Original lossless stereo and four-channel mixes plus DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround sound option on both cuts
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on both cuts
  • 44-page collectors’ booklet featuring new writing on the film by Omar Ahmed, Christopher Griffiths and Henry Blyth

DISC ONE – DIRECTOR’S CUT

  • Archive commentary by director Paul Verhoeven, executive producer Jon Davison and co-writer Ed Neumeier (originally recorded for the Theatrical Cut and re-edited in 2014 for the Director’s Cut)
  • New commentary by film historian Paul M. Sammon
  • New commentary by fans Christopher Griffiths, Gary Smart and Eastwood Allen
  • The Future of Law Enforcement: Creating RoboCop, a newly filmed interview with co-writer Michael Miner
  • RoboTalk, a newly filmed conversation between co-writer Ed Neumeier and filmmakers David Birke (writer of Elle) and Nick McCarthy (director of Orion Pictures’ The Prodigy)
  • Truth of Character, a newly filmed interview with star Nancy Allen on her role as Lewis
  • Casting Old Detroit, a newly filmed interview with casting director Julie Selzer on how the film’s ensemble cast was assembled
  • Connecting the Shots, a newly filmed interview with second unit director and frequent Verhoeven collaborator Mark Goldblatt
  • Analog, a new featurette focusing on the special photographic effects, including new interviews with Peter Kuran and Kevin Kutchaver
  • More Man Than Machine: Composing RoboCop, a new tribute to composer Basil Poledouris featuring film music experts Jeff Bond, Lukas Kendall, Daniel Schweiger and Robert Townson
  • RoboProps, a newly filmed tour of super-fan Julien Dumont’s collection of original props and memorabilia
  • 2012 Q&A with the Filmmakers, a panel discussion featuring Verhoeven, Davison, Neumeier, Miner, Allen, star Peter Weller and animator Phil Tippett
  • RoboCop: Creating a Legend, Villains of Old Detroit and Special Effects: Then & Now, three archive featurettes from 2007 featuring interviews with cast and crew
  • Paul Verhoeven Easter Egg
  • Four deleted scenes
  • The Boardroom: Storyboard with Commentary by Phil Tippett
  • Director’s Cut Production Footage, raw dailies from the filming of the unrated gore scenes
  • Two theatrical trailers and three TV spots
  • Extensive image galleries

DISC TWO – THEATRICAL CUT

  • Archive commentary by director Paul Verhoeven, executive producer Jon Davison and co-writer Ed Neumeier (originally recorded for Theatrical version of the film)
  • Two Isolated Score tracks (Composer’s Original Mix and Final Theatrical Mix) in lossless stereo
  • Edited-for-television version of the film, featuring alternate dubs, takes and edits of several scenes (95 mins, SD only)
  • Split screen comparisons between the Director’s Cut and Theatrical Cut, and the Theatrical Cut and edited-for-TV version
  • Robocop: Edited For Television, a compilation of alternate scenes from two edited-for-television versions, including outtakes, newly transferred in HD from recently-unearthed 35mm elements
About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.